This is the stage where many questions will arise, and conducting thorough research will help answer most of them early as well as bring benefits in the later stages. Not only will research save your time, but it will also give a deep insight into and a better understanding of the product’s specifics. The client, on the other hand, will benefit from the research too, because challenging the client with the right questions helps them crystallize their vision and may lead to some substantial changes.
Research takes time and can cost money, but in the grand scheme of things it will save time and money by helping to focus on the direction of the design process. It also helps you justify to your client the communication solutions you put forward. Remember that all research must be carefully documented and information sources need to be saved and made available for future reference.
When to run research
When the product is new. When there is a lack of understanding of the business model, product value, market and users in the existing product. After gathering as many insights as possible from the client during the first Strategy Stage during which you asked specific questions. The sample questions are listed in Chapter 1. When you want to verify if your solution meets the user’s needs.
How to run research
At this stage you run through the research methods on which you agreed with the client.
|A/B testing is an experiment where a researcher test two variants of the project, A and B, to see which one performs or converts better. It's widely used as a marketing tool to test a number of variations of a campaign on a split audience. Version A is shown to one half of the audience and version B to another. You can also use this technique while conducting usability tests to check which of your designs suits your users better.
|Benchmarking is the practice of comparing competition and industry standards to know all the best practices from other companies. It can be also an inspiring collection of interfaces, websites, mobile apps, products, and software that will be helpful when creating your own solution.
|In marketing and strategic management, competitor analysis is the process of finding strength and weaknesses of present and future competitors.
|Concept testing is the process of using surveys (and sometimes qualitative methods) to evaluate consumer acceptance of a new product idea before it is introduced to the market. It's important not to confuse this type of testing with advertising or brand testing. This methodology focuses on the basic product idea and allows researchers to gather all necessary insights to evaluate and ideate the business concept.
|Customer feedback is a research process of gathering all the information provided by your company's clients. Whether they are satisfied or not with your product or service, their opinion could improve the overall customer experience and help you adjust your solution to their needs.
|Or “secondary research” (as opposed to primary research) is all about gathering useful information from studies that have already been done by others.
|Diary study relies on a so-called diary, or a set of more or less structured questions related to the subject of the study which the respondent responds regularly for quite a long time (about a week or more). They enable you to learn about the users’ habits and everyday activities. Respondents can write down their behaviours, activities, motivators, reflexes, emotions, dreams, frustrations or failures. Thanks to this, it is possible to become more familiar with a selected research problem.
|Email surveys are one of the most popular methods of gathering all customer feedback. It's usually achieved by inserting a survey link into an email and distributing it to your respondents' database. Respondents can then simply complete the survey at their own pace.
|Ethnographic Research, or Contextual Inquiry is a qualitative method of user research which is performed by observing users in their natural environment while they perform activities that the researcher is interested in. The observation is followed up by a semi-structured user interview.
|Eyetracking examines the visual perception of interfaces using the registration of eye movements of respondents. Thanks to eyetracking, you can learn not only where the user is looking, but also in what order and for how long his eyesight focuses on individual elements of the interface, as well as to which screen elements the user does not pay attention.
|Focus groups (FGI)
|Focus Group Interviews are characterized by the group nature of the conversation. Several people take part in the interview, not one, as in ordinary in-depth interviews (IDI). There is an element of group dynamics that significantly affects research conclusions, both in a positive and a negative sense. The second important element is to focus these studies on one issue, as the name itself suggests.
|Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimisation, marketing, and research purposes.
|Hotjar is a new powerful tool that reveals the online behaviour and voice of your users.
|In Depth Interview (IDI)
|IDI is an individual in-depth interview, that is an interview between a researcher and a respondent. IDI is one of the types of qualitative research.
|Intercept surveys are surveys that are handled in-person, generally in a public place. For instance, interviewers might approach clients leaving a restaurant and ask to interview them about their experiences. Interviewers might ask questions or simply explain the project and give the questionnaire to the respondent to fill out.
|Mouse Tracking & click tracking
|This method is used to learn patterns of users' behaviour on the site or to discover places on the screen that are unnecessarily clickable or even the opposite, ignored by users. Users’ movements are represented on many visualizations, such as heat maps showing the aggregation of all user mouse movements or clicks, or a heat map showing the percentage of people who scrolled the page to the very end. Additional video recordings of mouse movements are a substitute for tests with users, but they might not be enough to get a full picture.
|A Product Review is a comprehensive analysis carried out based on selected User Experience and Usability research methods.
|It can be defined as the quantitative version of an In-Depth Interview. Surveys count results: how many people do this vs. that. Surveys follow standard methods for randomly selecting a large number of participants (from a target group) and use statistical analysis to ensure that the results are statistically significant and representative for the whole population. As surveys have numerical outcomes, it’s necessary to use close-ended questions.
|Tree testing is a usability technique for evaluating the information architecture of your site or app. It's the follow-up methodology after creating a card-based classification of the site map. Tree testing is usually done on a simplified text version of the site structure. Through tasks prepared for users, this technique allows you to improve the information architecture and get insights about properly placing elements.
|Intent studies should answer questions such as: who's visiting your site, why your users come, what do they like or dislike, etc. Gathering all answers can be a powerful insight to help empathize with users and understand their needs.
|User testing happens in front of a focus group which provides serious feedback on what they clicked on, and why. So in order to perform real user testing you need to recruit potential users that belong to a specific target and reflect personas. Usability testing checks the usability of the interface itself.
Questions to ask yourself at this stage
- Has all the necessary research been conducted?
- Have the assumptions been defined well enough?
- Have the assumptions been verified with end users?
- Do I understand the business?
- Do I understand the business goals?
- Do I understand the users?
- Do I understand the users’ goals?
- Do I understand the market?
- Do I understand the product, product value, and its features?