What is UX Research?

Encora | August 31, 2023

User experience (UX) research is essential to any software development lifecycle (SDLC). UX research helps create an intuitive UX that drives engagement and converts and retains users. So, What is UX research? This guide defines UX research, explains its importance and types, and describes how to conduct UX research. 

UX Research Defined

UX research is the process of gathering insights about users’ behaviors, needs, and challenges. It is an integral part of the human-centered approach to design, and it is crucial to creating solutions that meet user expectations and deliver compelling value. UX research involves many different observation techniques and feedback methods that aim to gain context and perspectives to make informed decisions, build user-centered products, and continually make user-centered decisions throughout the product lifecycle. It helps companies organize what they think users need, what they say they need, and what they actually need. 

Importance of UX Research

It is too easy to act on biases and assumptions, make the wrong app or system, or make the right app or system incorrectly. UX research is crucial for making a product that users genuinely and powerfully resonate with and reduces the risk of wasting time on an idea that is ultimately unsuccessful. 
With users at the center of the design process, companies can gain a competitive advantage and differentiate their products in a crowded marketplace. As an ongoing process, UX research enables constant improvement and leads to a product that grows with the users. 

Types of UX Research

There are many types of UX research, and it is vital to gain many kinds of data from different research approaches. All kinds of research fall under one of two categories: quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative research is an empirical approach that is primarily numeric or can be translated into numerical data. Qualitative research is an exploratory approach to understanding phenomena, experiences, and behaviors in a textual, visual, or narrative form. Here are some common types of UX research:

  1. Moderated research is a type of inquiry that requires a facilitator or interviewer to be present, which may impact study results because people behave differently with a stakeholder present. Moderated research can be user interviews, focus groups, or moderated user testing.  
  2. Unmoderated research, also called remote research, is a type of inquiry in which no facilitator is present. In unmoderated research, participants follow written or recorded instructions. This approach requires extensive planning and preparations so users can navigate tasks independently. It includes unmoderated usability testing, live website testing, and surveys.  
  3. Remote research is a form of research that can be moderated or unmoderated. It uses UX research tools that record behavior, feedback, and screen activities. It expands the reach and accessibility of UX research because users can participate from home or another convenient location. Remote research includes usability testing, concept testing, games like card sorting to understand concept organization, and wireframe or prototype testing.
  4. In-person research is a more costly form of research because it may require travel and accommodations for participants. This form of research is ideal for products that require physical hands-on testing, have safety considerations, or need supervision while testing. It includes field studies, user interviews, and guerrilla research activities to solicit feedback from random users.
  5. Generative research needs to happen before the design phase begins. It helps identify a problem and collects substantial data to inform subsequent decisions. Generative research includes field studies, user interviews, and diary research that records behaviors, activities, and thoughts over time. 
  6. Evaluative research is a continuous and iterative form of inquiry that evaluates a product or concept to collect data to make improvements. It includes usability testing, A/B testing to see which version works best, free testing to see if the information architecture of a website makes sense, and five-second tests to gather first impressions.  
  7. Behavioral research involves observing interactions and responses of users to situations. It is a poignant form of research because sometimes behaviors differ from what is expected or declared. It includes observation, testing, and diary research.
  8. Attitudinal research involves gaining insight into how people feel and what they say. It is an ideal pairing with behavioral research, and it includes focus groups, user interviews, and surveys. 

How to Conduct UX Research

UX research is not a singular, isolated task. In contrast, it is a continuous process tailored to each stage of the product life cycle and evolves over time. Pair stages of the product life cycle with suitable research methods. Seek specific insights according to the stage of the product. For the most effective UX research, partner with an expert. 

Fast-growing tech companies partner with Encora to outsource product development and drive growth. We are deeply expert in the various disciplines, tools, and technologies that power the emerging economy, and this is one of the primary reasons that clients choose Encora over the many strategic alternatives that they have.

Contact us to learn more about UX research.

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