Conducting User Experience Research

One of the key steps to building an experience design strategy is conducting research to learn about the current user experience across your website or entire digital platform. Significant insights can be gained about user interaction through robust web analytics, however, analytics do not tell the whole story. For a more clear view of user experience, we often design a research method to answer some key questions.

The first step to conducting user experience research is forming your research goals by creating a few top-level questions that need to be answered. We can help you determine the most import questions as they align with your particular brand, product, and industry. Here are some generic questions that you might use as a base for your top-level questions:

  • Identify the status quo - What are the current conditions?
  • How would the conditions change if there were no technological limits?
  • What are the most valuable opportunities in the industry?

The next step is establishing the more targeted questions that you might ask someone in order to extract the necessary data to answer your top-level questions. These questions should be tested and might need to be adjusted if you find they do not prompt adequate responses. While your targeted questions will align with your particular top-level questions, your brand, product, and industry, below are some generic examples of targed questions that you might use as inspiration:

  • What features or situations allow for the most customer control?
  • What features or situations would benefit most from more customer control?
  • How much time do users spend with each particular feature?
  • How does this time vary by demographic, age, total spend, etc?
  • What features or situations do users access most?
  • What features or situations do each user segment access most?
  • Which user segments require the most customer service support or intervention?

Once we have established all of the research questions we continue adapting our research method around the context that will produce the most authentic, useful results. We determine the type of data capture tools most likely to produce answers to the research questions and design those data-capture tools - such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups. We also support our partners while they work to recruit participants or coordinate with a third-party to supply participants. Before any research is conducted, remember that your participants should sign a release or agreee to your terms and conditions before continuing. 

Once we have conducted the research we need to organize and prepare it for analysis. The first step is to reduce the data captured to the most significant findings and codifying the data according to themes and sub-themes that present themselves on the surface of the findings. These patterns help inform our in-depth reporting.

If the data is complex, and especially if the data is already digital, we convert it to a database and use the power of SQL tools to run queries, build charts, and establish our research findings. In the end, the data will inform real recommendations for improving user experience across your website or digital platform. The research will back up your recommendations with real-world data, more valuable than a web analytics tool alone. 

Research might also require ongoing work. When we analyze data gathered from user experience research we often come up with more questions than we were able to answer! Thats ok - and these new questions should be investigated through further qualitative research or quantitative studies.

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