Abstract: UXR is an acronym for User Experience Research. It is the process of studying the behaviors, needs, and emotions of end users; and leveraging those insights to enhance the experiences of physical and digital products, services, and applications.
People interact with a variety of apps, websites, and web apps almost every day, but how many of them are easy to use and lead to positive experiences? Although design plays a vital role in crafting user-friendly applications, user experience research is equally important and often gets overlooked.
User experience research (UXR) helps craft the user experience in general and provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of both users and products.
What is User Experience Research (UXR)?
UXR or User Experience Research is the process of observing and studying the behaviors, needs, and emotions of users and leveraging those insights to enhance the experiences of real-world and digital products, services, and applications. UXR helps define user experiences and then, in turn, helps create engaging and satisfying solutions.
It takes a broad look at the entire user experience, including all the different ways people interact with products. In addition, it is an approach in which researchers consider the user’s needs and goals at every step of the product design process, from conception to delivery.
UXR is essential for two main reasons:
- It enables researchers to understand what the customers or end-users want and need. Understanding what customers want is the very first step in making the best possible product or service.
- It helps researchers make critical product decisions, like the type of logo, the language of a website, the features of a mobile app, or the type of device on which it will be available.
Benefits of UXR
The benefits of UXR are endless, and five of the most important are outlined below. With these five benefits, researchers can see how UXR can help the company focus on the journey and leave the results up to the users.
Improve customer experience
UXR allows researchers to design an interface, in other words, an application or website, that is enjoyable and useful to users. Many products leave users in the dark and assume the user knows the entire process or complete picture. UXR can help researchers find out how the end-user feels about the company’s product or service. It can provide them with the information they need to improve the product so that the customer is happy with it and gets the best results.
UXR can also provide companies with information about what customers want. For example, if users tell researchers that a particular feature isn’t needed or isn’t working, they can make an educated guess about what they’re trying to achieve. All in all, UXR helps researchers clarify, refine and validate their hypotheses, which eliminates assumptions and improves the customer experience.
Increase customer loyalty
Researchers and designers need to create amazing experiences to increase customer loyalty and engagement. How can companies increase customer loyalty if they don’t understand their customers and their needs? User experiences need to be seamless, reliable, and consistent.
First, UXR allows researchers to test their assumptions. For example, if researchers believe the homepage is not clear and easy to use, they can conduct user testing and compare their beliefs to the users’ comments. They can then follow up with a redesign.
Second, UXR can help them find out if they should develop a mobile app. In addition to getting customer feedback on the company’s website, they can also look for an opportunity to test their mobile app.
Third, UXR can help researchers make a testable hypothesis. They can then run A/B tests or similar experiments to find out whether their assumptions are valid or not.
Finally, UXR helps researchers resolve issues and find answers to the customers’ feedback. They can then ensure their company’s presence and improve the brand image.
Enhance your brand
It enables researchers to understand what the customers or end-users want and need. Understanding what customers want is the very first step in making the best possible product or service.
It helps researchers make critical product decisions, like the type of logo, the language of a website, the features of a mobile app, or the type of device on which it will be available.
Create a revenue-generating product
Often, companies will design a product around users but will then forget the company’s business needs, such as in cases where the product doesn’t generate enough revenue, which is terrible for the company.
UXR will help researchers identify where their business is falling short. For example, there will be times when they will need to redesign a product or improve the flow of a website, or they might find out that the company’s target audience isn’t finding what they need on the website. In these cases, researchers may want to look into doing A/B testing.
Understand customer engagement and spend money efficiently
UXR can be used to find out which features website visitors are leveraging on the company’s website. Then, they can explore the how and the why and then when the visitors are using these features. The researchers can then work with the designers and web developers to initiate any needed redesigns accordingly. For example, if visitors seem lost in a specific layout, researchers can explore how they might improve the navigation of that layout.
Types of UXR
UXR is divided into two major types:
1. Qualitative Research
Qualitative research includes more personal interactions that allow researchers to get feedback on a particular area or idea—qualitative research results in improvements in the design and usability of a solution.
There are several types of qualitative research, and each has different strengths and weaknesses when compared to quantitative research. Qualitative research focuses on the personal reactions and insights that the researcher gains. It is a review of collected, often observed, information, ideally based on personal experiences.
Qualitative research techniques include:
- 1 on 1 Interviews: These allow researchers to capture spontaneous reactions to the product or service, which can be a valuable way to discover common themes and stories between users.
- Digital Ethnography: This method helps researchers develop a rich, contextual understanding of who their customers are and identifies their needs, challenges, and motivations.
- Diary Studies: A longitudinal method that allows researchers to analyze the current behavior of users and their relationship with a company’s products over time.
2. Quantitative Research
Quantitative research involves collecting data, performing tests, and gathering insight. Quantitative research results in long-term improvements in how well a solution solves problems. It focuses on the numbers (e.g. conversions, click-through rates, page views, etc.) and includes quantitative research techniques like analytics tools and surveys.
In a quantitative study, researchers will be looking for:
- Response rate: How many people will complete the study?
- Segmentation: How do researchers segment their users?
- Meaningful identification: How do researchers identify specific user behaviors and perceptions?
- Reporting: How can researchers present their findings to the world?
While UX research uses qualitative and quantitative methods throughout the UX process, qualitative research helps provide a deeper insight that can change the product’s core purpose, shape the design of the company’s product(s) or service(s), and influence the product launch strategy.
Common Methods in UXR
An increasing number of industries are using UXR more now than ever before. Take a look at some of the most common UXR methods.
An observational research method employed to study users in their natural environment to gain a contextual understanding of their needs. Ethnography is rooted in anthropology and has progressed from traditional in-person methods to more modern digital techniques. Digital ethnography allows researchers to leverage devices like smartphones to capture ethnographic data remotely so they can better understand real-world interactions. The way someone interacts with a product in a lab is often different than how they interact with a product in their everyday life. Capturing this context is critical to unearthing insights that lead to practical design.
This method involves having end users record their thoughts and experiences over time through text, video, pictures, and screen recordings. Diary studies are often leveraged early on in the UX process during the discovery and exploratory stages to take deeper dives into themes, pain points, and opportunities unearthed during digital ethnographies.
Diary studies provide a longitudinal view of a user’s behaviors, habits, and routines as they relate to a company’s products, brands, and services. This helps designers and researchers gain a better understanding of user habits, attitudes, and journeys.
1 on 1 Interviews
A UXR interview involves conducting a real-time, interactive interview with an individual user. Researchers use this method when they want to understand and explore who their customers are and find ways to include them in the design process. The more questions researchers ask in a UXR interview, the more data they will gather about the users’ goals and needs. Then, researchers can combine these insights with demographic information to further understand who is using the product, what their goals are, and why they want to use the product in the first place. Once researchers understand what users are thinking and feeling, they can move forward with developing a better product.
A/B testing determines which version of a website or mobile app is more likely to engage users, convert more customers, and drive more revenue. A/B testing involves creating two versions of the website or application and allowing users to access the “A” version for a fixed amount of time and then switch to the “B” version. Then, researchers can compare the results to get insights and feedback on each version.
There are many ways researchers can conduct A/B testing in UXR.
- They can test simple design changes or experiments to test their hypothesis in one small group.
- They can conduct A/B testing on each product feature (interactions) to improve them.
- They can even conduct A/B testing across a website or app.
Usability testing is a testing approach that determines how easy the website or application is to use. It aims to predict user experience for real-world situations and helps researchers choose the best design, interface, and user interface.
Usability testing includes:
- Learning how to use a product
- Learning how to find and use features
- Measuring usage in user-testing sessions
- Measuring the value the product provides to customers and why they use it
When it comes to UX research, usability testing is critical. It allows researchers to learn about the pain points, frustrations, and misunderstandings that users face when using the product.
All in all, UXR enables researchers to find out what users want from the product and consequently can help them with any changes they need to make for the best user experience. Without it, companies will have a hard time finding where their customers are making mistakes and how to solve them. In today’s rapidly changing world, researchers need to constantly monitor, understand emphatically what and how customers feel, think, and use their product(s) and service(s). And then, researchers can apply the resulting insights from UXR to shape better products and services.