"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." - Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Computers
Design is everywhere, from the gadgets we use to the mobile applications we interact with but there's something interesting happening in parallel which most of us don't realize until we come across a bad product.
It could be a slow-loading website, or a mobile application full of bugs and we are instantly turned off. We just had a bad user experience.
This isn't the kind of user experience any brand would want you to have. In this article, we show you on how UX Research can boost your product's impact while ensuring that your users have the best experience on the planet.
In simple words, it is the process of conducting research to understand how potential users would interact with your product.
A product built after proper UX Research would far more likely be in sync with customers and lead to a good user experience. Skipping or rushing this step during the product development cycle can prove disastrous to a business.
For instance, Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person shooter role-playing video game released in December 2020 but it failed to live up to user expectations. The game was released prematurely and had multiple bugs, users also faced compatibility issues with current generation gaming consoles. All of this led to millions of disappointed players and the company received a ton of bad press.
Before deciding on a UX research method, one needs to have clarity on the type of data they want to collect. Do they need quantitative data which can be measured in numerical values or are they looking at identifying qualitative parameters like user behavior?
While deciding on one is dependent on the specific situation, most businesses use both qualitative and quantitative methods to gain insights into their customers.
Let's go over these UX Research methods one by one starting with competitive intelligence:
Competitive intelligence is used to gain insights into a competitor's strategy so that one can model it in their own business.
It involves identifying similar products like for e.g. a website or mobile application and analyzing their strength, weaknesses, and improvement areas. This information serves as an inspiration for design teams during building new products.
Surveys have been used to collect user data for decades. They are highly customizable for the type and amount of data to be collected and can be held online, or in person.
While formulating a survey questionnaire, following a neutral approach will result in honest feedback. You can include both open-ended and close-ended questions.
For instance, if we are developing an OTT application, we can survey to find out which OTT apps our potential customers are already using, their likes and dislikes with current apps, and any new features they look forward to.
People interact with multiple websites and mobile applications daily and based on these interactions, they form a judgment on what an ideal web/app should look and function like.
With the help of card sorting, we label cards with our web/app information and ask participants to organize them based on their understanding and preference. This helps a business gain valuable insights on the customer journey and design information architecture for their product that would meet customer expectations.
A/B testing is one of the most widely used UX research methods. It helps businesses make data-driven decisions based on the performance of two different web/app versions.
To conduct A/B Testing, a business comes up with two different versions of the same web/app, and an equal number of customers are directed to test out each version of the web/app. The data is then collected and analyzed and the version with the most favorable results is finalized.
Usability testing is a UX Research method used to evaluate the ease of use of a product by testing it on users to identify any issues and improvement areas.
Input is received on how real users use the system, and if problems identified at this stage are fully resolved, the product would far more likely succeed as it would be in sync with customers.
Usability testing is not to be confused with market research or other qualitative research methods. Usability testing typically involves a systematic observation of how easy it is for users to use a product. Oftentimes, qualitative research methods are used in combination with usability testing to better understand users.
If conducting surveys, competitive intelligence, or any other research method isn't feasible, design teams create an imaginary user and define several data points such as potential problems the user might face.
User Personas are commonly used when timelines are tight, but it's not as effective as other research methods. The reason is that a designer or developer who creates the user persona may have a different point of view than that of a potential customer.
Conducting UX Research is paramount to the success of an end product. It helps a business deliver what truly matters to its customers.
The UX Research methods outlined in this article have their advantages and help achieve a specific goal. While deciding on which method to implement, one should evaluate the product's scope, timelines, audiences, etc.
Quality Assurance (QA) Manager
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