The following is a guest post by Vivek Bhaskaran, cofounder of Chisel Labs
Product managers and product teams are constantly looking to conduct user research to increase the stickiness among their customer base, bring in new customers and reduce churn. An inefficient way of knowing how effective your product is to rely on assumptions about the usability of your product.
Conducting user research or UX research provides a good insight into the customer’s mind and can transform your product enhancements and upgrades from speculation to reality.
We have compiled a comprehensive list of UX research methods that can help you deliver optimum value in UX projects and provide the correct data for the highest possible ROI.
The top 9 UX research methods that efficient product teams use
There are multiple techniques to conduct UX research, and they all stem from pertinent research methodologies that involve observation and understanding. While it is inefficient and expensive to use numerous research techniques on each UX study, generally speaking, a mixed methodology research process has the most benefit.
But when do you know what research method or technique to use? Often, these trade-offs will be between attitudinal vs. behavioral research and quantitative vs. qualitative research. Using a UX research repository can bring data and learnings from multiple studies and sources into a consolidated platform and democratize insights.
The nine methods enlisted below (in no particular order) are the most widely used UX research techniques to help you cover all bases as a product manager and product team and deliver more significant insights and ROI.
While card sorting was primarily used in psychological research, this model is now a mainstay of user research. You can use a simple model of handwritten cards or an online survey tool to get users to categorize information into various categories with closed card sorting and let users categorize information into buckets of choice.
Using card sorting for your user research can help you understand if your information architecture flow is headed in the right direction or not. Another good use case for this technique is while designing a website and for consumer research.
This technique is advantageous since it is easy for users to understand, and researchers easily interpret the data. Using this method at the initial stage of products offers the highest value.
User personas are a fictitious creation of a user that most accurately represents the optimal end-user. This technique involves putting together a user that maps to the end goal objectives of the product, characteristics that they have, and the attitudes that are displayed. Putting together this persona stems from past research and past experiences and is most easily created when using a research repository that eliminates tribal information.
Using this research technique in usability studies allows the focus to remain on the user, reducing the time to create products that resonate with the right target audience. The model is now widely used by product teams because it is easier to relate with user personas than just a user profile that can be very arbitrary.
Surveys & questionnaires
Using surveys and questionnaires is a very quick but effective method to conduct UX research as it offers in-depth quantitative data and supporting, structured qualitative data. With the proper setup and end goal in mind, surveys help collect data at scale and from a diverse, geographically unlimited audience.
It is easy to deploy studies and collect and analyze data instantly from the audience that matters the most for your product teams with the right online tools.
A/B testing or multi-variate testing is another powerful and widely used technique in UX research, where multiple concepts undergo tests to check what resonates better with users of a product. Whether the use case in question is the flow of a website or button performance or anything else, with the help of A/B testing, you can determine the performance of the product behavior and tweak it to see what works best for you.
Moderated discussions in the form of focus groups are a vital technique of UX research that now forms a core component of the qualitative research angle. With the penetration of online focus groups, it is now easy to get access to a core set of users and customers where important feedback is expected. Focus groups can help you grasp how users perceive your product, co-create with a core set of users, and capture emotions while interacting with the product with the help of visual cues. This tool is widely used in research as the moderator can coerce a discussion to gather the most relevant feedback by eliminating bias from the insights collection.
Usability testing involves asking users to complete a set of activities or tasks while interacting with your product to monitor performance and behavior at every stage of these interactions. Monitoring these interactions and final outputs help in testing hypothesis and aid in product enhancements and upgrades.
This testing method is conducted in two formats, moderated usability testing, and unmoderated usability testing. In the former model, in-depth instructions are provided to a user, and behaviors and performance are tracked. This step aids in granular feedback at every stage that you determine to be essential. While this user research technique is more thorough, it can also be time-consuming. You can use some top moderated usability testing tools to achieve your objectives while deriving the most high-value data and insights.
On the other hand, unmoderated usability testing is done asynchronously. The tasks to be performed are outlined in complete detail, and there is no intervention from the insights collection and management teams during the activity.
Guerilla usability testing is the new modern, lightweight take on traditional tests but is more adhoc. Participants are recruited to perform user research testing in random environments like an intercept study and are given quick rewards. This method works best when there is a shortage of resources and outcomes are expected instantaneously.
This testing model involves asking users to complete everyday navigation tasks to monitor steps and patterns to get from task to objective quickly and efficiently. This testing model works very well with the card sorting method. While card sorting helps to classify information, tree testing helps to evaluate the hierarchy of information. This model is most effective in understanding the website or app’s performance and behavior.
The last model of the user research technique that makes it our must-have testing method for every product team and researcher is the eye-tracking method. This method tracks where users look while interacting with your system. This technique helps you derive heatmaps into visual interactions with your tool and aid in identifying the placement of high-value interactions and buttons in such locations.
The most effective way to manage UX research
Managing UX research is not just important but also highly critical. With the right tools, you can get from data to insights faster and better. Since UX research is vast, it is imperative to use advanced techniques like atomic research models to consolidate knowledge across teams, stakeholders, and research. Using a tool like the InsightsHub offers the ability to create and manage workflows to manage research data, aid with discovery with a meaningful and searchable repository of data, key findings, and materials, and lastly, aid in building a knowledge graph of current and past results instead of re-inventing each project from scratch. Such tools provide a platform to organize, explore, search and discover all your research data in one organized repository and help you get the most out of your UX research.
Vivek Bhaskaran is the co-founder of Chisel Labs a premiere agile product management software that brings together roadmapping, team alignment, and customer connection. He is also is the founder of QuestionPro.com and co-founder / investor in other SaaS startups.