Why do research?
Unfortunately, research costs money and time, and thus some companies are hesitant to invest in it. UX research does not directly translate into profit making in a way that a new machine does, so it requires some justification,
Research is the foundation on which you can build your product.
If you have this solid foundation, and your ideas are validated through research, your product will likely find its users.
Let’s consider the business perspective of UX research – the return on the investment (ROI)
What are the returns?
We have all had a fair share of frustrating websites, trying to figure out what they do, or how they work, what they can do for me, the user. How long do I stay on that page? Not enough to figure it out, because, well, there are loads of similar websites, offering the same benefits in a way that appeals to me. A set of features that I think is not just useful but delightful.
How did this second website know what I am looking for? Well, there is a small chance that they just guessed right. Or, a more likely scenario, they first learned about
- their target audience – demographic, technical savviness, what gadgets they own, etc.
- the features/content users find desirable
- the constraints and the environment that users would use their product
- the style they find appealing
So what are your returns?
- You will avoid wasting money on developing features and content your users have no need for or just cannot use
- You will know about your target users’ needs, affinities, skill level, etc. that allow you to design the product that users can embrace. A.k.a. success both for your users and for your company,
What are the costs?
You can do your own user research or you can hire a UX researcher. This is the work that needs to be done:
Planning your research
Come up with a set of questions for your research you need answers for. What assumptions are you making now that may not be true? How would you do things differently if you found out that assumption A was not correct? If it made your product/process quite different, then it makes sense to validate that assumption through research. Another way to look at it: Imagine that you are a year older, and your product did not succeed. What are the things you wish you had known a year earlier to avoid the flop? B
Conducting the research study
While you can simply observe people as they go about their everyday life, it is more likely that you want to know how they interact with a certain product or interface. And not just observe them: you may want to gain insight into their thinking while they are using your product. Which means you need to ask people (and not just your friends) to test drive your product. How do you get them to do that? How many users do you need to interview? For how long? And how will you make sure that your interviewees behave the same way as your target users?