User Experience Research: Definition, types, steps, uses, and benefits

What is User Experience research?

User Experience research or UX research is defined as users’ systematic study to discover behaviors, needs, motivations, and trends by observations, analysis, and other user feedback. UX researchers use different methods to understand problems and draw opportunities to stand out amongst their competition. Organizations conduct User Experience research to precisely understand how real customers react to the products or services in the real world. 

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Types of UX research methods

We can divide UX research into two dimensions depending on the product type, its environment, the research size, and your timelines. Let’s look at both dimensions. 

  1. Quantitative vs. qualitative research: 

Quantitative research is the study of a population through the use of surveys and questionnaires. Quantitative research helps to generalize findings and understand what a specific population likes and dislikes. This data collection technique is generally mathematical in nature.  

Qualitative research helps researchers gather information by observing users in field studies or focus groups. Qualitative research brings sense to the motivations and reasons for consumer behavior. The users are generally in small numbers belonging to diverse backgrounds and help answer the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about consumer behavior. 

  1. Attitudinal vs. behavioral research:

“Attitudinal research” applies to what users say, while “behavioral” applies to what they really do. What users and customers usually say and what they do are sometimes pretty different. Researchers often conduct attitudinal research to measure customer’s needs and beliefs. However, researchers lean towards behavioral research for insights as data on what users tend to do is more relevant. Website A/B testing is an excellent example of behavioral research because it gives researchers critical insights into how users perceive and act to different versions of the same site. 

Steps to conduct User Experience research:

Here are the five steps to conducting User Experience research:

  1. Define objectives: Always define the goals of your research before you act. Understand what you want to discover about your customers and their requirements.
  2. Set hypothesis: Set a hypothesis on what you feel you know about the users.
  3. Choose a suitable method(s): Choose the best research approach based on factors like project type, research team size, and deadline.
  4. Apply the research method(s): Conduct research using the research method(s) you chose and start collecting user data about their preferences, likes, dislikes, and needs.
  5. Synthesize feedback: Collect and analyze the user-feedback data to fill in your knowledge gaps. Use this knowledge to improve and enhance your offering.

Uses of User Experience research 

Researchers use UX research for the following:

  • Discovery: Discovery means understanding what the users find relevant. Researchers either interview the user in their environment or ask them to maintain a record of their daily interaction with a design.
  • Exploring: During this phase, researchers look at possibilities to address the needs of all users. Card sorting is an interactive research technique to understand precisely what people like and dislike. 
  • Testing: Testing helps you evaluate the design thoroughly. Companies test products to ensure they’re easy to use and accessible by everyone.
  • Listening: Listening assists researchers to put issues in perspective. It helps them find unseen problems to fix quickly. Surveys and Questionnaires are useful tools that help researchers track user feelings.

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Benefits of UX research

Here are the benefits of UX research:

  1. Better products: Involving your potential customers directly helps you gain a lot of knowledge on what the customers prefer, what their pain points are, and what will help the overall improvement of the product.
  2. Happy users: UX research helps you collect unbiased feedback directly from your customers – your most reliable feedback source. Because it is not influenced by company leaders, investors, or other outsiders, it is the best actionable feedback source.
  3. Business growth: Understanding what your customers seek help organizations spend less money and time correcting flawed designs. It helps to speed up product development and boosts customer satisfaction.