What is User Experience (UX) research?
User Experience (UX) research focuses on understanding user expectations, behaviours, needs and wants. Like market research, UX research can employ a variety of techniques, tools, and methodologies to reach conclusions and uncover existing or potential problems. These different approaches help reveal valuable information and insights which can be fed into a product design process.
Ultimately, the goal of UX research is to have a useful and enjoyable end product that will be used by the target user. This end product can be a website, application, marketing page, or video game, and there is always an opportunity to do more research, as I strongly believe you can’t build a good product if you don’t know who you’re designing for.
When should you do UX research?
There are many opportunities to conduct UX research throughout a product’s lifecycle. Research activities typically start at the generative (ideation) stage and move into the evaluative (validation) stage.
Generative research, the beginning stage, will typically be conducted to validate or inform an idea before the idea gets too far along in the design process. Often referred to as foundational research, generative research identifies an opportunity to solve an existing issue. This research is typically conducted when little is known about a particular area, with the intention to introduce a solution to a user issue – ultimately to provide the user with something they need (even if they don’t know it yet). Similar to Lux’s process with foundational research, this research can be conducted through exercises such as ideation sessions or concept testing to see if a solution might be “too out there”, or “just right” for the target market. Case in point, the first drafts of the product design are completed based on initial generative research. These drafts are typically tested early on as a pen and paper sketch or a preliminary digital prototype format. The researcher will typically sit with the subject, the “user”, in a generative exercise session and walk them through different tasks to see if the sketches are intuitive and if the design idea is sensible.
Evaluative research, also known as ongoing research, can be done at any time during a product lifecycle after the generative research is completed. If there is an opportunity to test a product at the beginning stage of the design process, once the product has launched, or even after a few years into the product being utilized, evaluative research can be conducted to ensure the product continues to be useful and enjoyable. Evaluative research is the type of research that is ongoing and should happen often, as it is employed when trying to assess the success of a solution that has already been addressed in some way. Evaluative methodologies play a pivotal part in the iterative development of a solution by ensuring the continual evaluation of a product’s design are being considered at different stages during a product’s development and lifecycle.
There is always time in a product’s lifecycle when you should be researching – start with research and launch with research. Test early and test often!
More about our in-house UX Expert!
I’m very much a people-oriented person. Every client has a different set of information and a different degree of understanding their user and their users’ experiences.
My first step in UX research is to collect everything I can from the client through a series of in-person (now virtual) exercises and conversations. Usually that ends up being mostly qualitative work but sometimes I’ll have quantitative data from their app/website or previous research work that they’ve done. This process also mirrors what we do at Lux. Lux is well-versed in both conducting qualitative studies, for example in-depth interviews and focus groups, and collecting secondary research relevant to the client’s industry.
Based on the questions the client is trying to answer and the problem they’re trying to solve with their product, the team will come up with a research plan which outlines the methodology, timeline, recruitment approach and high-level research objectives.
I’ll then usually conduct user interviews or contextual inquiries with existing users or potential users, or a mix of both. I also do usability testing with any existing software or website the client has, to try to validate our own assumptions. If there’s time and a need for it, then the team will solicit quantitative data through surveys or app analytics to further inform assumptions and insights.
Interested in learning how Lux can help you with your UX needs? Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.