Hybrid research is gaining momentum as researchers glean more profound insights in record time through more holistic approaches comprised of foundational, generative, and evaluative methods through an all-in-one project. By integrating multiple methods, researchers experience enhanced project efficiency while simultaneously optimizing the utilization of participants and sample resources. Researchers gain a more rounded and comprehensive exploration of user behavior and needs through hybrid approaches.
Foundational research is the bedrock of UXR as it is the cornerstone upon which all future insights are built. Foundational methods are strategic, and used to explore users’ behaviors, motivations, needs, and objectives.
Fundamental User Behaviors
Understanding user behaviors is the first step of foundational research. It involves closely observing interactions between users and products, services, or systems. By observing user actions, patterns, and habits, researchers gain a greater understanding of what drives user behavior — this will ultimately give way to user-centered products, services, and solutions.
Motivations, Needs, and Objectives
Foundational research goes beyond behavior to delve deeply into underlying motivations, needs, and objectives steering user actions. When researchers identify motivations and core needs, they can prescribe design implications for experiences that resonate and fulfill user expectations.
Data Collection Methods
Unmoderated User Interviews
User interviews are a vital tool in foundational research. Interviews offer researchers the opportunity to engage directly with users. This allows researchers to probe with further questions and gain feedback without needing a live moderator. Unmoderated sessions can gain candid and unfiltered insights, which leads to a greater understanding of users and their perspectives.
Generative research seeks to explain why users do, say, think, and feel the way they do. This is a crucial phase in the research process that explores and gains an understanding of the complex factors and motivations that drive user behavior.
User Needs and Desires
Through generative research, researchers pinpoint the unmet needs and wants of users. By examining the daily lives of users, researchers get firsthand insights and context into what users value most in products and services. This allows researchers to explore goals, expectations, and motivations that drive their preferences.
By observing and analyzing actions in various contexts, researchers can identify common routines, trends, and recurring behaviors. Researchers gain essential information on the types of experiences and products that align most naturally with users. Through careful observation of interactions, they can prescribe designs that account for behaviors that deviate from a design’s initial expectations.
Motivations and Drivers
Motivations and drivers are a core focus of generative research. Researchers gain insight into emotional and psychological factors that impact how users make decisions. Going beyond surface-level observations, generative research reveals the “why” behind user actions, which leads to products and services that resonate on a deeper level by tapping into these drivers.
Pain Points and Friction
This approach highlights challenges and frictions that users experience during their daily lives. Through identification, researchers can pinpoint sources of frustration and prescribe enhanced design implications that ease or entirely remove the burdens identified during research.
Data Collection Methods & Techniques
User Journey Mapping
This technique allows organizations a unique opportunity to map the user’s journey from start to end. These maps identify touchpoints, emotions, and pain points that arise throughout the user journey. UX teams can use findings from generative research to produce insights that help them identify bottlenecks and opportunities. This method fosters empathy for the user and provides guides to help organizations deliver user-centric solutions.
Persona Development and Refinement
Personas are a fundamental component of generative research. With findings, teams can construct semi-fictional representations of user segments. Each persona encapsulates a subset of unique goals, motivations, characteristics, and challenges. Through the humanization of data, organizations gain a more empathic lens into what would resonate with users — this leads to informed decisions that align with the diverse needs of their audience.
This approach seeks to validate the solutions that an organization has designed and developed. This is a pivotal phase as it is key to assessing the design, functionality, and likelihood of adoption of both physical and digital products and services. The focus is on validating and improving designs to meet and, hopefully, exceed user expectations.
Assessing Design and Prototypes
Evaluative research scrutinizes the aesthetics and functionality of products and services. Researchers assess layout, aesthetics, and UI elements to identify possible issues or areas for refinement.
Determining Effectiveness and Usability
Data Collection Method
Remote Usability Testing
This is a cornerstone of validation research. Through remote observations, researchers gain insight into how users interact with a physical or digital product or service. During the sessions, researchers locate pain points and assess overall satisfaction. Insights gained from this type of testing are actionable as they often provide concrete and direct implications for a design.
Hybrid Methods Use Case
A consumer packaged goods company might combine both mobile ethnography and usability in one project to both observe and capture the context and behaviors of users at home cleaning their kitchen (why, when, how, where, what etc.) along with the usability around a certain physical product as well as any associated digital products/technology. By combining the observational richness of mobile ethnography with the precision and insights of usability testing, researchers can delve into the intricate details of user behavior, motivations, and needs when it comes to their physical and digital products. It enables them to not only witness users’ actions but also grasp the underlying motivations and decision-making processes that influence their choices. This in-depth understanding is invaluable for refining product design, enhancing user experiences, and tailoring marketing strategies to better meet consumer demands.
As the UX research field continues to evolve, embracing these innovative approaches and data collection methods will be essential to staying ahead of the curve. Researchers today are artists. By mixing a palette of mobile ethnography, unmoderated user interviews, diary studies, journey mapping, and persona development in hybrid studies, UX teams have more control over their research and can more efficiently collect data that meets research goals.