generative ux research featuring prototyping, sketches, and mobile wireframing

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The following is a guest post by Cherryl Pereira, Head of Content at Chisel Labs

UX research plays a vital role in the overall product development and offers myriad competitive advantages to organizations.

It begins the process of design with an understanding of user goals, behaviors, and needs.

However, most companies are still using traditional research methods to collect their data. Here’s why teams across all industries should start utilizing UX research techniques.

UX research can produce valuable insights that improve products and features by identifying problems before they’re implemented into the final product. These insights save both time and money along with speeding up processes like validation, decision-making, or customization.

One of the main goals of UX research is to identify areas where users are experiencing difficulty. This can be done through user interviews, focus groups, surveys, or by analyzing data from website visits or app usage.

By identifying these pain points, you can then create solutions that address these issues before they become a problem for your users.

One of the deft ways to conduct UX research is to conduct generative UX research, which is also referred to as exploratory or discovery research.

This type of research can provide you with a deeper insight into the customer’s needs, behavior, and choices.

It’s a popular UX research method for commercial companies who want to improve retention, conversions, and customer satisfaction.

In this article, we will dissect the generative research and cover the following:

What is generative UX research?

How is generative UX research different from evaluative research?

10 phases while conducting generative UX research

What are the different methods of conducting generative UX research?

Advantages of generative UX research



What is generative UX research?

Generative research is a research method that is designed to generate ideas, solutions, and insights into the product design problem.

It is a highly creative process that often uses techniques like brainstorming, sketching, and prototyping.

Generative research aims to come up with a large number of possible solutions that can then be evaluated and refined. It’s often used in the early stages of product design when there is still a lot of uncertainty about the best way to solve a problem.

Many different techniques can be used in generative research, but they all have one goal in mind: to generate lots of ideas. Some common techniques include brainstorming, sketching, and prototyping.


How is generative UX research different from evaluative research?

  1. Generative UX research model is used to discover and explore your customers’ habits, interests, choices, and motivation while evaluative research is used to measure how well a product or service currently functions.
  2. Generative UX research focuses on what can be done, while evaluative research is concerned with what has been done.
  3. Generative UX research is about opening up possibilities, while evaluative research is about judging and measuring the worth of something.
  4. Generative UX research generates new data, whereas evaluative research relies on pre-existing data.
  5. Generative UX research is creative, open-ended, and explorative, whereas evaluative research is logical, systematic, and analytical.
  6. In generative UX research the researcher assumes a passive role, while in evaluative research the researcher assumes an active role.


10 phases while conducting generative UX research

We have pinned down the phases while conducting generative user research. They are as follows:


Phase 1.  Ascertain the background of your research and outline it

What are you trying to achieve with your research? What questions need to be answered? What gaps in knowledge exist that require exploration?


Phase 2. Frame the problem

The next step is to frame the problem, which will help determine how you will go about researching it. The problem statement should be clear, concise, and specific. It should also be answerable through research.


Phase 3. Define your goals and objectives clearly before the research even begins

Your goals and objectives will help to focus your research and keep you on track. Make sure they are realistic and achievable, and that they align with your problem statement.


Phase 4. Plan your research

Once you have a good understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, it’s time to plan your research. This involves developing a hypothesis, selecting the right methodologies, and designing your study.


Phase 5. Select the most appropriate method, which is best suited for your project

The research methodology you use depends on the type of information you need and how that information will be used. Your choice of method should match your goals and objectives as closely as possible.


Phase 6. Develop a design for your study

Now that you’ve chosen the right method, it’s time to plan your research project itself. A good design sets out what is going to happen and why throughout the study.


Phase 7. Try to fix a time limit for your research and abide by it

Studies can take a long time to complete, but it’s important to try and fix a time limit for your research and abide by it. This will help you stay on track and produce valuable results promptly.


Phase 8. Conduct your research use tools to ease and add to the process

Once you’ve planned your project and set a time limit for yourself, it’s time to start the actual research. If you haven’t already, find ways to ease and add to your process.


Phase 9. Synthesize, record, and document your findings

After conducting your research, it’s time to synthesize, record and document your findings. This will help you form a clear picture of what transpired during the study and help you share your results with others.


Phase 10. Analyze and share the gathered information and data in an actionable way with your stakeholders

After finishing your research, the next step is analyzing it and presenting it comprehensively. You must include all of your findings rather than just sticking with the positive ones because this allows for stronger results that help others better than if you were to leave something out. This also helps ensure that there are no mistakes or blunders in your study so that accuracy can be ensured throughout the process while still giving a sense of satisfaction when completing each phase of UX research.


What are the different methods of conducting generative UX research?

We have assimilated information from various sources and have come up with the top 2 most popular generative research methods

  1. Discovery or exploratory interviews
  2. Virtual ethnography 

Now let’s discuss each of them in detail.


1. Discovery or exploratory interviews: 

This type of research is used when you want to understand the problem space and explore different potential solutions. In this type of research, you talk to people who are not familiar with the problem so that they can help you define it.

Steps in this research:

Step 1

Define your objective and goals by taking all the stakeholder’s inputs: This step is important to define the research goals so that everyone understands what you are trying to achieve.

Step 2

Converting all the objectives, goals, and inputs into discovery questions: Now that you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, you can start formulating the objectives and questions.

Step 3

Listing down all the people you need to speak with: You need to come up with a list of people you think would be relevant to talk to and gather feedback about your problem space. This may include members from the target audience, the customer service team, sponsors, and even you.

Step 4

Conduct initial interviews: Once you have everything ready (interview guides, questions, and so on) you can conduct your first interview. The intent behind this research is very different from other types of research as you are not necessarily looking for answers but for stories that will help you build empathy for your users.

Step 5

Analyzing the data: This is where you will analyze all the data you have gathered and look for patterns. You should also try and answer the objectives and questions that you set in step 1.

Step 6

Reporting: Once you are done with the analysis, it’s time to write up a report  that summarizes your findings and share it with your team. This report can also be used to make decisions about future iterations of your design.


2. Virtual ethnography/netnography:

Virtual ethnography is a type of research that uses the internet to study people’s behavior and culture. Netnography is a form of virtual ethnography that specializes in studying online communities.

The main advantage of virtual ethnography is that it gives researchers access to data that would otherwise be unavailable. It also allows researchers to study people in their natural environment, which can help build greater empathy for them.

Steps in this research:

Step 1: Clearly define the process and make a roadmap.

Identification of the research topic and objective is very important.

Step 2: Identify and select your samples.

You may need assistance with this, particularly if your fieldwork is very location-dependent. If you are studying a phenomenon that takes place in a physical space (e.g., nightclubs, stadiums) it can be difficult to find participants who fit within the specific criteria without having access to the locations yourself or through contacts.

It is always recommended to start with your social circles and friends group for referrals but don’t forget that while doing so, building rapport is also key. This should not be neglected as people will feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information within a trusting environment.

Step 3: Search various kinds of sources to gather information.

Once you have your target population in mind, you can start looking for sources of information. Try to find as many types of sources as possible to get a well-rounded view of what is happening. This could include online forums, social media groups, interviews with key stakeholders (e.g., club owners, promoters), and reviews of the venue or event.

Step 4: Categorize the data.

Now that you have gathered all this data, it is important to organize it into a coherent structure. This could involve creating tables or diagrams that show how different aspects of the user experience are related to one another. It is also helpful to identify any patterns that emerge from the data.

Step 5: Evaluate these sources and select the relevant communities.

After analyzing all of the data, you need to decide which communities are most relevant to your study. Not every community will be equally relevant, so it is important to prioritize these groups based on their relevance to your research question.

Step 6: Identify the key stakeholders in each community and interview them.

Once you have identified the relevant communities, you need to identify the key stakeholders within those groups. These are the people who can provide you with insights into how the user experience is being perceived by users. Interviewing these stakeholders can give you a more in-depth understanding of how users are interacting with your product or service.

Step 7: Collect feedback from users, study and evaluate the insights.

The final step is to collect feedback from users. This can be done through a UX research study, which is essentially a more formalized and structured way to gather user feedback. Conducting UX research studies will help you determine whether your UX strategy is working or not and what you should do next if it isn’t.


Advantages of generative UX research

  1. Generative research is cost-effective: Research is expensive. Conducting UX research studies to measure whether your UX strategy is working or not can be expensive, depending on how much time you want users to spend in the UX research study. Generative research, however, typically takes very little time and can be done at a low cost.
  2. Generative research gets the right information: Generative research produces insights that are more accurate because participants are typically trustworthy sources of information about their own experiences using your product or service.
  3. Generative research aids in prioritizing work: Generative research provides u-shaped data that enables users to decide which features to include in a product and also helps u-shaped feature prioritization on existing products.
  4. Generative research helps in understanding and empathizing with the user: Understanding your user’s needs, their pain points, and being able to empathize with them is a founding step of any successful product. Thus, through generative research you got this important aspect covered.
  5. Generating study can be used as a benchmark for continuous improvement: Generative research helps in continuous improvement due to its nature of methodological refinement. It involves new ideas, hypotheses, and theories that need to be tested and verified. This allows for the generation of better quality research and knowledge.
  6. Generative research can help in boosting confidence and validating hypotheses: Like traditional research,  the findings of generative research are based on trust, confidence, and belief. If the study is found to be successful it will increase the researcher’s self-confidence.

Generative research through u-shaped thinking can help in boosting the confidence of the team and also validates the hypothesis.



Generative research is one of the most sought-after ways of conducting User research and now we know why. A U-shaped UX research is a way of generating ideas and validating hypotheses with the help of users.

UX research can be conducted through generative methods like brainstorming or u-shaped thinking that helps in understanding the needs and behavior of the end-user at an early stage.

It offers multitudinous advantages and can facilitate product design. It can help in avoiding costly changes and iterations later on. It also helps in building a better product that appeals to users.

Usually, the generative research is conducted before the designing phase, but you can do it at any stage during the product life cycle. UX research ensures that the user’s needs and requirements are met.


Cherryl Pereira is standing in front of a bush with white flowers. She is smiling, and her hair is down, partially covering her red outfitCherryl Pereira is the Head of Content at Chisel. Chisel Labs is a premiere agile product management software company that brings together roadmapping, team alignment, and customer connection.



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