The secret behind every successful business is customer-centric UX design. Each element of your business should be designed keeping the needs of our customers in mind. That’s why brands these days are investing millions in curating the perfect user experience. But before we get to that, you need to have a crystal-clear picture of your target audience.
One of the first steps of creating a successful brand is extensive user research. Today, we will talk about the most popular evaluative research methods and how you can leverage them to know your users’ persona Inside out.
UX research is the process of studying customer interactions with a particular product of the brand. This includes how they perceive the brand, engage with their brand’s user interface, what makes them stay, what drives them away, and many more factors.
These results are then used to curate a seamless user experience for the customers with the aim to maximize conversion rate.
There are four types of user research depending on the nature of the study and what type of results you are expecting to extract from the user experience research.
The first set of user research types includes qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Here is a brief overview.
Qualitative research methods are more behavior-based and aim to find subjective answers to certain questions with logical reasoning. For example, a qualitative research approach will try to understand why a customer leaves a website without scrolling down.
Research tools like detailed user interviews, case studies, ethnographic studies, and reports are often used to conduct qualitative research.
Quantitative research focuses more on numbers and figures than subjective reasons behind events and customer actions.
For example, if qualitative research focuses on why customers are leaving a website without scrolling down, quantitative research will focus on the number of customers leaving, the number of customers who stay, and the amount of time they are spending on the website on average.
Generally, this type of research is conducted by tools like surveys, statistics, online polls, and probability sampling.
The second set of research methods includes attitudinal and behavioral approaches. Here is a brief overview of these two methods:
The attitudinal research approach focuses on the preconceived notions and ideas a customer has regarding a particular brand or industry. For example, a lot of people find it hard to trust automated services and AI-powered tools.
Attitudinal research will study the opinion these people have about AI even before they actually interact with a similar service and the reason behind it.
Just like qualitative research methods, attitudinal research requires in-depth interviews, case studies, and other forms of personal interaction to understand what actually goes on in a customer’s mind when they think about a particular business.
Behavioral research studies the actions a user takes when directly interacting with a company through their website or product. If you draw a parallel between qualitative and quantitative research and attitudinal and behavior research, you will find a similarity between quantitative and behavior studies.
While the attitudinal approach gives you reasons and subjective answers, the behavioral approach merely states what’s happening.
For example, if you want to run behavioral research on your customers, you can use website tracking tools like Mouseflow.
It gives you the recorded version of your customer’s interaction with your website so that you can see how they respond to the different elements of the site, what keeps them hooked and what drives them away.
Each of the above research approaches consists of several user research methods. Here are some common methods to help you research your target user base.
Under first click testing, we study the first element that a person would click on to complete the task at hand. These tests are usually conducted on a running website or wireframe. You can use tools like Learning Loop to conduct a first-click test.
It is used to study the ease of navigation and simplicity of the interface for the customer’s convenience.
Prototyping is an experiment where the design team creates variations of the final product to see how the customers interact. For better results, a lot of brands create mockup sites based on their ideas and see how the customers respond to them. Depending on their feedback, they choose and release the final version of the product.
This is another form of user testing where participating users are asked to complete specific tasks on the website interface to check their usability and simplicity. Generally, the test is assessed on efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction.
Ethnographic studies aim to observe the test objects in their natural environment instead of a controlled test environment. It can be conducted either by passive observation or by direct interaction. It’s a type of qualitative research that aims to discover how users would interact with a brand’s products under natural circumstances.
There is no better way to design a customer-friendly interface than inviting customers to chip in their opinion. In a participatory design, all brand stakeholders, including the consumers, are invited in the early stages of the customer experience design process to provide a user’s actions valuable input in building the interface.
Focus groups are a qualitative research method that observes the interaction between a group of carefully selected people on a given topic. These people are usually existing or potential users of a brand. The hosting organization usually studies their opinion, thoughts, and response to a specific topic regarding the brand or its products.
Another popular qualitative research tool, interviews, offers in-depth insight into how a customer feels about a particular product. Unlike other research methods, you can use interviews for follow-up questions and a comprehensive analysis of users’ opinions.
This is usually used to discover a scope of improvisation in a product and identify current issues troubling the existing customer base.
Eye-tracking tests are performed with the help of a specially designed eye-tracking device that tracks where the participant looks first on the test object. You can also use software like iMotions to conduct the test.
It is used to identify the most eye-catching element of a product or website and understand how the navigation flow on the website will happen.
Usability benchmarking is the process of evaluating an interface’s current usability status so that it can be used in the future as a benchmark to compare improvement and growth. It generally includes the performance of the product as well as the satisfaction it delivers to the customers.
Remote usability testing studies a customer’s interaction with a given website in their natural environment. It is usually conducted through screen-sharing tools. Depending on the test object, it can be moderated to achieve the desired result.
Brands often invite a group of subject experts for a virtual panel discussion. In these tests, the participants are asked to interact with the brand’s interface and immediately share their opinion as they proceed. This gives user experience designers real-time, honest feedback on their interface design.
Concept testing research gives an overview of upcoming products and their features to respective participants and evaluates if it meets their target audience’s expectations. It is usually done before the product is launched so that there is still scope to make improvisations.
This research method is usually used for long-term tests that can last for a few days to a few months. Participants are requested to keep track of their opinions, thoughts, and emotions in a diary or a camera throughout the test period.
The customer feedback research method is usually implemented once the product has been launched. It takes honest feedback from consumers who have already used the product on the experience, satisfaction level, and recommendations.
Desirability studies are used to understand how customers perceive your product interface independently. Participants are given various alternatives of the same user interface along with a closed list of attributes they relate it with to understand what they think of the interface.
Card sorting is a crucial tool for analyzing the product design or the information architecture of a site. In this test, participants are given a few topics and asked to categorize them into groups. Once the participants label these groups, you can understand their expectations from a particular section of your interface and all the topics they want you to cover in it.
This research method directly observes and tracks a user’s interaction and the brand’s interface. It is usually done through data collection tools or screen recording software like Mouseflow that records the entire session.
This research method is used to analyze if your customers can smoothly navigate through your interface without any hiccups.
A/B Testing is used to identify the most compelling version of the same interface. You can hand over this responsibility to tools like User Testing.
Under this, a group of participants is requested to interact with different variations of a website and state which one they like the best in terms of usability, simplicity, effectiveness, and satisfaction.
Unmoderated user experience studies encompass a variety of tests, both qualitative and quantitative, where the subjects perform the tasks in their natural environment and without a host UX designer or UX researcher. It is used to take honest feedback in an uncontrolled environment without imposing any rules or time restrictions on the participant.
True-intent studies include a researcher interacting with a live customer and inquiring into their experience with the website and if they were successful in performing tasks they intended to. This helps the brand catch real users in action and check the real-time performance of their interfaces.
Intercept surveys are a lot like true intent studies. With tools like Survey Labs you can intercept a live customer browsing your website.
Use this opportunity to ask them relevant questions about their experience and request feedback.
Email surveys are just like any regular survey, with the only difference being the research medium. These participants are invited and surveyed only through email. This helps them target users who are uncomfortable with long, direct interaction or cannot take a time-bound study.
There is no such thing as a perfect UX research method. Every brand needs a combination of different sets of approaches and methods depending on their business domain, vision, and target audience. Just make sure you take both qualitative and quantitative data into account to get the best results.
How do you choose the right UX research method?
The best way to choose the right UX research method for your brand is to understand your research goals.
For example, suppose you want to know whether your customers find it easy to navigate your website. In that case, you can use a combination of email surveys, interception surveys, clickstream analysis, and usability lab studies. You will obviously not need all of them. The final set of research methods will depend on your target audience, mode of business, and research limitations, if any.
UX research methods are the tactics that will help you run research on your customers and their interaction with your brand. Each of these methods caters to a particular aspect of your business and should be used accordingly. For example, if you want to get feedback on your design thinking or product development, go for prototyping or participatory design.
Customers are the ones who can build or break your brand. Hence, every aspect of your business should be developed by prioritizing their needs. These user research methods help you know them better and understand the solutions they are looking for.
After all, the easiest way to help a customer and win over is by catering to their needs better than everyone else. And effective brand-to-consumer communication is the key to curating effective solutions.
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