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How UX Research brings value to product development

Wwhen we talk about user experience, we quite often end up discussing UX Design. Some may even refer to UX and UX Design as the same thing, which they are not.

Today I would like to draw your attention to the “pre-story” of amazing and usable design — user experience research.

Before diving any deeper into this topic, let’s first make sure we are all on the same page, and to do so I want to refer to the basic understanding of user experience. I would like to quote Jacob Nielsen and Don Norman, people who can rightfully be named the “founding fathers” of user experience discipline. According to their definition:

User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

So, when we talk about a user’s experience with a product, we mean the quality of user interaction not only with the product itself, but everything, including the design and copy of your ad, the look and feel of your website UI, the main features and functionality of your product, its usability, post-purchase experiences and even the button label in your newsletter!

Creating a satisfying user experience is not that easy, but it is certainly possible when you know what your users need and you have the skills to build it.

To cut a long story short, with user experience research you get the knowledge and with design skills you build the product.

Let’s have a look at this illustration by Dan Willis that brilliantly highlights how exactly UX solves user problems.

Dan Willis' - UX umbrella

According to Willis UX includes all the above components. This confirms the idea that user experience is a combination of many components, and if you want to create a cool product, these components must work together in perfect harmony. With this in mind, let’s try to answer the follwing question:

What is the value of UX research?

User experience research, user needs, or just user research— are a bridge between the businessman and the final consumer.

This does not mean that businessmen don’t care about users, because many successful business projects exactly solve the problem. But how well are they being addressed? How these solutions satisfy the user?

UX research tries to put the user at the center of the product development process.

User Experience research is a process of understanding the g habits, needs, and attitudes of the user. To achieve these purposes, various methods of observation and data collection can be used.


Thus, these UX studies based on objective data feedback. These studies cannot influence someone’s individual opinion or someone’s credibility. That’s just what thoughts and actions of users are saying.

And this is the first and main argument in favor of the importance of UX research. How the study fit into the development process?

Research experience provides important data, but how to integrate the process into the general scheme of development? They should be carried out before or after you create the design? And maybe, during the development process?

There is no universal answer to this question. It all depends on the type of product and its life cycle. But if you look at research as a dynamic, ongoing process that continues after product launch, we can distinguish two roles of UX research:

  • Initial studies of the user experience
  • Regular case studies.

Initial studies of UX conduct in the early stages of product development. They help the team to understand the target audience of the product, when and how users will use it, and what tasks or problems can be solved with its help.

Usually, such studies are made to identify the potential user behavior, behavior, and usage of the product. This information is critically important for the design and decision-making.

A case study in UX can be made at any time during development when there is a specific question or problem that needs to be solved.

UX Research

For example, you notice that the percentage of completed purchase transactions at your online store is very low. You want to find out why. One of the ways to figure it out can become research conducted with the help of the target group, which will test the buying process to identify the main difficulties and problems.

The purpose of the study is to identify these problems with the help of real user reviews. Particularly useful such monitoring in the middle of the development process, when you have a lot of options for the design solutions from which you need to choose one. Depending on the type of task, UX case study can use the following methods: sorting cards — for example, if you need to optimize the information architecture, heuristic evaluation — if you are trying to identify serious problems in usability; usability testing, which involves the use of various techniques.

UX Research works best if it`s carried out at all stages of product development. Thus, we can check, confirm and try different solutions, based on your feedback.

Conclusion

Interface design and interaction play an important role in creating the user experience, but they will not be effective without data from real users. In the end, how can you create a working design without knowing what your users’ needs? UX Research solves this problem and creates a connection between the attractive design and usability of the product. If you know how and at what time to apply the study of user experience, you will be able to make the right, evidence-based design decision.