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Essential UX Research Methods and How They Are Used

Essential UX Research Methods and How They Are Used

Design Process
5 min

Preparing a digital product is a long and sophisticated process. It’s hard to predict whether users will like and adopt your service without good UX research. Indeed, using UX research methods can be extremely helpful in your quest to create the best user experience possible. Still, it’s easy to lose track of them or feel overwhelmed by the different types of methods available. 

That’s why using and understanding the differences between key types of UX research helps to meet your target audience—ultimately, you create a truly helpful product for them. With the accurately picked methodology at hand, you’ll get valuable insight into how users interact with your product or service and how you can improve it to fit their needs and wants better. 

"UX research is the must-have stage during the design process to ensure the product solves business tasks, meets clients' expectations, and contains competitive features to stand out on the market."

This guide covers all the essential UX research methods and shows you how to use them in the design process to improve usability.

The article provides the UX research methods list to assist top executives in guiding their digital products towards greater usability and better business results. By relying on our vast experience in UX design, Arounda specialists will determine the need for UX research, the key considerations and reasons for its importance, and the practical results the designers can expect from this methodology. 

In the overview of the exact UX research methods, we’ll discuss the top working techniques relevant for different business tasks:

  • usability testing, 
  • user interview, 
  • focus groups, 
  • A/B testing.

As a result, you’ll get a practical guide to conduct your own UX research to help you make the best digital product that accurately meets users’ needs and overcomes the competitors. 

What is UX Research and What Are the Reasons for Doing It?

Before even contemplating doing UX research, you need to understand what it is and why it’s necessary. In a nutshell, UX research is a systematic approach to information gathering that helps you collect as much as possible about your target users and their needs. Normally, researchers take data from different sources so that their findings are more reliable and representative of your target audience.

UX research is the must-have stage during the design process to ensure the product solves business tasks, meets clients' expectations, and contains competitive features to stand out on the market. At this stage, designers:

  • detect the pain points of users, 
  • understand their real needs, 
  • collect the relevant information they will use to create the product.

Even more, UX research goes beyond just how users interact with your product. But it also helps to figure out how they feel about it. That may sound abstract and theoretical, but such a research benefit is highly practical. It will help shape every decision you make related to design, development, marketing, and pricing. 

Simply put, UX research is an invaluable tool in designing successful products or services, be they on the ideation stage or already developed.

Top 4 UX Methods

In general, there are numerous UX research techniques. The right pick depends on the aims of a product and the final result expected. Before choosing a particular tool in the list of research methods, it’s essential to understand the segmentation of the target audience and the range of solutions already present on the market better. 

These activities contribute to clearer positioning and aim articulation, and the result ensures that the UX research methodology chosen is relevant.

Generally, UX professionals use various techniques to learn about users, determine their motivations, and define a target persona. While giving a definitive list of UX research methods may be confusing, we wanted to highlight some of our favorites and most popular ones and show the use cases relevant to each.

Usability Testing (To Find Killer Features)

Being among the most popular user research techniques, usability testing is relevant for developing products as the existing solution with its interface, metrics, realized pain points, and customers’ feedback. For such products, UX research will improve the existing functionality and logic and help in redesigning and making the solution more client-oriented.

After conducting a UX audit of a digital product, the best results are possible, meaning critical evaluation of interface usability, content, actions, and UX patterns for making enhancement-related hypotheses. Due to this, we highly recommend combining usability testing with UX competitive analysis. Thus, the strengths and weaknesses of other services empower your hypotheses with real-life examples and arguments.

Considering the great number of factors you should include in the research, conducting a successful usability test might seem difficult at first. But once you get started with some quick preparation or ask the professional help, it’ll be easier. And after all — the advantages you'll gain from working with user-centered design methods will certainly make all of your efforts worthwhile.

User Interview (To Understand How They Interact with the Product)

The most hands-on UX research method is conducting in-person user interviews. These allow you to ask direct questions about user habits and expectations. At its best, an interview with a single user can be an in-depth conversation in which you learn not only what they do but why they do it that way. It is tremendously valuable when it comes to designing products or features with specific use cases in mind.

This UX methodology is relevant with target audience data available. Researchers can apply this method before the design to get feedback on the visualization idea elaborated. In this case, it’s possible to create a sample, build hypotheses, and create a list of relevant questions to get the needed answers to proceed. This way, user interviews will validate that the interface is understandable and the UX patterns chosen are obvious. 

Based on the information collected during the user interview, it becomes possible to proceed with the design, improve the product, and create KPIs.

Focus Groups (To Discover User Needs and Feelings)

This UX research process of collecting customer feedback is deeper, as one solution is checked with several user groups. The users themselves are carefully selected based on the criteria as persona models with the key characteristics of a particular target audience segment.

Conducting a well-run focus group is a real art, and many companies have full-time staff dedicated solely to running them. If you’re strapped for time and resources, consider hiring a research agency with professional moderators who conduct focus groups for dozens of companies every week. If you’re conducting your own focus groups, make sure to prepare as much as possible beforehand to gain really valuable insights and get all the benefits this UX method can bring potentially.

In this method, real users test the interface and share their insights in a group discussion. Considering the number and the depth of insights you can get, focus groups are an excellent way to learn about a specific segment of users.     

A/B Testing (To Choose among Several Ideas)

As an abbreviation for split testing, A/B testing involves running two variations of a site against each other to determine which one gets better results. For example, if you’re redesigning your website, you might create two different versions of your home page—each with unique graphics, links, and text. Then, direct half of your traffic to one version and half to another over some time.

In terms of UX design specifically, this user research methodology works great when you have a prototype and several interesting design solutions. Among them, A/B testing helps to determine the most working solutions, meaning those generating greater conversion, being more obvious for users, and establishing clearer communication with users.

There can be different goals for A/B testing. Still, the methods work under the same technique pattern: you should develop two different prototypes, select users who will participate, elaborate on the assessment, and evaluate the results obtained. 

What Results Can UX Research Give?

Neither product owner nor related specialist can create a high-quality product based on subjective understanding. Meeting all the needs and expectations of the target audience is simply impossible without researching it and fitting its expectations with your communication goals, business aims, and usability requirements. 

Because of that, user research methods provide essential and valuable information for the designer that lets this specialist rely on valid metrics, patterns, and trends while building a successful product layout.

The designer gains profound and expert-like knowledge of the business niche during the UX research process — like a product owner or a stakeholder. In particular, the investigation of best solutions and practices makes the user portrait clearer for the company, along with user difficulties and problems it’s possible to solve and conversions it’s possible to get in a new design solution. 

This way, all the data is grouped according to the chosen UX research and becomes the background of building informational architecture, creating in-app connections, understanding page hierarchy, and working on user scenarios further. 

In practice, UX research can provide a variety of results, depending on how it is used. First and foremost, it helps improve user experience and user-centric design by creating a better product or service that meets users’ needs and achieves business goals. Also, UX research serves to define your target audience. It helps to learn about current pain points, validate ideas, and verify assumptions regarding who your customers are, what they need, and why they choose one product over another. 

The data you gather from UX research provides valuable insights for understanding customer behavior patterns. Thus, you can create high-quality experiences at every touchpoint within your digital ecosystem. Be it a website or a mobile app, UX research improves its future usability.

Arounda Experience: Dojimatech Project and UX Research

In our portfolio, one of the most illustrative cases of highly efficient user experience research is Dojimatech, the SaaS product we’ve assisted with branding and UX/UI design for a web app.

Dojimatech, a multi-currency bank account for startups and medium-sized businesses, requested our assistance in adapting the standard UX with greater usability. When the UX research stage came, we showed the client all the methods we generally apply with detailed explanations and expected results, including qualitative and quantitative UX research methods. Given the high competitiveness and the solution's existence, we’ve picked usability testing as the main UX research method.

For Dojimatech, we collected the links of their competitors in the brief, categorized direct and indirect competitors in this list, and created the competitor matrix. Then, we analyzed the best practices and solutions in the matrix to select features that will address user pain points but be unique to the Dojimatech product and establish mutually beneficial communication with clients.   

After UX research, we’ve sent the client the guidebook with the competitive analysis for each company reviewed and negotiated the next steps in the design process based on this information.

Reach Out to Us for Assistance with UX Research

This article demonstrated the importance of UX research for the design process and described the concrete methods and tools you can apply to complete this stage effectively. Now, it’s time to start the research itself! If you’re new to this and cannot pick among the types of user research, Arounda can help.

We're a team that’s ready to give you a hand at UX research. Our approach is comprehensive: it's not just about considering details like website and app UX and UI but also about working on brand and marketing elements and app-building processes. Our advisors refer only to the best practices to deliver a valuable solution for you.

By referring to our experts, you’ll get valid UX research results that will increase the usability and effectiveness of your digital solution. Let’s talk and meet your users together!


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