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How does UX research work?

  • UX & CRO

We recently highlighted how your search rankings are affected by the experiences people have on your pages.

It raises questions like:

  • Who knows what good UX is?
  • Who decides how a page looks, feels and works?

The answer is simple (though the process isn’t) – a lot of research.

What is UX research?

User experience (UX) research collects data on your website performance that you can use to make the right improvements to increase conversion rates.

The main consideration is the U in UX – your users, their motivations and goals, and how your website can best help them. No matter how aesthetically pleasing a page design is, if the interface doesn’t help real world users, it’s useless.

Using a range of different methods like heat maps and user testing, researchers build a picture of what’s required. By gathering the best quality data, they use insights to inform the design and development of more effective pages.

Quantitative and qualitative research

There are two main types of research that help UX consultants gain useful insights. Each has its limitations if used in isolation.

A common maxim is that quantitative research gives the ‘what’, while qualitative gives the ‘why’.

And while this is a little simplistic, both approaches are valuable in forming theories, then putting flesh on the bones.

What is quantitative UX research? – the ‘what’

Quantitative research is driven by numerical data and focuses on statistical findings to form testable theories and results.

For example, how long users take to complete a task, what percentage do it a certain way and the regularity of obstacles encountered.

Because of this, it relies on large numbers of subjects to generate sufficient data and drive reliable conclusions.

Much of this may be drawn from analytics platforms like Google Analytics, as well as other specialist applications.

Benefits of quantitative UX research
  • Quick and easy to gather in large amounts
  • More objective (harder to influence subjects)
  • Better representation of majority behaviour

What is qualitative UX research? – the ‘why’

In contrast, qualitative research incorporates more ‘human’ elements, to better understand the motivations of the people behind the numbers.

Tactics like interviews, surveys and real time observations of individual behaviour can give insights that data doesn’t fully explain.

Benefits of qualitative UX research
  • Can highlight specific issues data can only hint at
  • Gives richer, more nuanced reasons for behaviour
  • Reveals identity and emotion of users that the page is hoping to attract and convert

Common UX research tactics

UX research has no definitive end, or checklist – but there are certain steps that should always be taken.

Beyond that, it’s about how much time, budget and resource you want to devote to it.

But some of the most common and effective ways to build a platform to work from include:

  • A/B testing
  • Web analytics
  • Usability testing (Moderated & unmoderated)
  • Interviews (Stakeholder and user)
  • Surveys & questionnaires
  • Persona development
  • Journey mapping
  • Heuristic analysis
  • Card sorting
  • Focus groups
  • Wireframe & prototype testing
  • Heat map & click mapping

Plus many more specialist actions that form a comprehensive UX research strategy that delivers against stakeholder targets.

Goals and measurement

With the amount of work, time and potential spend that deep dive UX research can demand, just getting started is not an option.

Return on investment and agreeing which needles need moving (and by how much) are key priorities in building an effective plan.

Once the goals have been established, it makes reporting against them more efficient and straightforward.

And when precision and clarity are applied at every stage of user experience research, this is reflected in the results and ultimately, the ROI.

Can UX research help you?

If you’re wondering how a UX strategy and testing could result in happier customers that convert more easily, speak to one of our specialists.

Get in touch today, or if you know someone who might be interested, share this content and spread the love.


Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

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