Top 7 Techniques for Effective UX Research

March 13, 2019

Athar Majeed

Just like the living, the marketplace has evolved over the years and through the aid of digital and tech world, what were deemed as the norm are shifting and adjusting to the new reality to avoid being left behind. Previously, businesses were centered on the sellers and their ability to sell a service or a product. Now, the customer is royalty, with the success of a business revolving around their experiences and impressions on what and how you offer.

In the current market, user experience (UX) has found its jigsaw fit in the digital product design process, fostering customer-centeredness, which when well-executed separates the wheat from the chaff and provides an upper hand in the already petrifying and arduous competition.

So to earn some relief and gain points, companies ought to lean on user experience when creating apps, websites and other customer services. How can they pull this off? By integrating UX in the design process and by assessing it through effective UX research. We will provide you top seven techniques for effective UX research going forward whilst giving insights on how they can best work for you.

UX Research: The Highlights

  • User experience (UX) is the internal experience generally felt when one is interacting with a product and services provided by a company. These products are usually websites or applications, with the UX being determined by the easiness and the enjoyment a user has when maneuvering through a product.
  • On the other hand, user research is the study of user interaction while testing concepts and design ideas hence validating the product created.
  • User research delves into the people using provided products, applications and services hence elevating a customer-centered culture relating a product directly to the user’s problem.
  • Many companies usually conduct UX research after coming up with a product’s prototype. However, since UX research is all about problem-solving mindset where insights of ideas and concepts can be added or discarded depending on the desires of the user, it is advisable to begin and end with this strategy.  
  • Techniques for effective UX research include: online questionnaires and survey, Interviews, Card sorting, A/B Testing, Focus Groups, Tree Testing and Usability Testing.

7 Tried & Tested Techniques for UX Research

1 – Online Questionnaires and Surveys

This method serves user research by preparing a set of open-ended or closed-ended questions and mixed questions that will help in gathering information once filled. These questions are usually given to a targeted audience over the internet. The method is not only cost-effective but also a faster way of getting user feedback.

Short, precise and easy to understand questions to explore reasons of visiting a website or app and assess the experience around it. They can also be used to evaluate usability while gathering feedback on an added feature or a product.

Online surveys are great at mitigating risk of developing the wrong feature that doesn’t meet the wishes of the user or provides poor solutions, if not any. Through this user research, information provided by the end user can be better understood creating an opportunity to design a product that is befitting.

Read Also: 5 Important Things to Know About Product Design

However, this method is prone to bias and thus caution should be practiced when conducting it. One can also opt to pair this study with another to get the best out of the expounded data. 

2 – Interviews

This approach of user research puts the opinion and emotions of the user to test. The targeted audience are understood better especially when it is their first experience with a product and are new to the developing team.

Interviews involve asking users what they think rather than just plainly watching their behavior towards a product. Both of these lines are different with the former providing a more valid data and hence making interview an effective UX research method.

Interviews perfectly portray users’ general attitudes towards a prototype or feature design and how they solve their problems. By asking questions, you will be able to also learn a lot about your users from their statements.

But since it involves asking users to recall experiences, this method may fall prey to inaccurate data as human memory is imperfect.

3 – Card Sorting

Card sorting is a user research method used in determining the accuracy of Information Architecture (IA) of a product or sites. The method involves writing up phrases or terms on cards and allowing your users to categorize them into topics. This way, the user understanding of topics will be brought to light. Also, users’ expectations will be clarified through the process.

This method is not only cheap, but also very easy in terms of preparation of the study and execution as well. Ideas and concepts can also be validated as early as possible in the design process thus encouraging a well-established flow, organization and hierarchy of a web or app architecture.

4 – A/B Testing

This is another technique that helps in learning user behavior especially when two competing elements are involved such as an old version vs the new, two styles of features, two layout of a homepage design. It can also be used in clarifying as assumption. The actions taken by the participants are recorded reviewed and later analyzed. 

This easy to analyze experiment helps in reducing risk, avoiding mistakes that would have been costly and in the long run improve content, user engagement thus potentially increasing the sales volume.

5 – Focus Groups

Going by the name, this technique involves bringing together five to ten participants into a closed discussion guided by a moderator. The usually two-hour long meeting provides a platform for future and current users to put across their ideas and desires of the product and service discussed. User attitude towards the product or service are then best understood.

However, to gain the most out of the UX research technique, a diverse demography should be maintained in your focus group allowing a variety of needs to be touched on.

6 – Tree Testing

Tree testing is an effective UX research technique which confirms the architecture of a website or application, just like the card sorting approach. In this method, users are provided with a tree-like sitemap, and asked to suggest where they would wish to go, from the top level, when accomplishing a task or when finding something.

This approach quickly rates the extent of how information is categorized and also the order of the section site.

7 – Usability Testing

Usability testing is all about following the behavior of a user. The study involves inviting participant to test product prototypes. Being the most common qualitative UX research, many companies like to use it because it provides evidences of user behavior that cannot be refuted. Increasing the credibility of the data produced.

Why is UX Research Important?

It reduces the risk of designing low or even high end product that doesn’t work for anyone. Saving you the time and money lost just because you didn’t pay attention to the users’ thoughts in the design process. Notably, the lesser the assumptions, the more superior the design.

Should UX Research be Done Once? The Designer’s Point of View

To UX designers, user research is a bridge that links the customer and the brand and the above are techniques for effective UX research which provide valuable inputs and promote a customer-centered culture. Remember, UX research is key in finding new and loyal customers for your product and you should consider doing it regularly since the market evolves with new technologies sprouting every now and then. You can pick an effective UX research technique described above, or even combine them depending on your liking, and gain a competitive advantage from the practice.    


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