User research methods
Mapping methods compared: a cheat ism and distribution of users’ computer skills: worse than you think. To know when to use which user research method, each of 20 methods is mapped across 3 dimensions and over time within a typical product-development field of user experience has a wide range of research methods available, ranging from tried-and-true methods such as lab-based usability studies to those that have been more recently developed, such as unmoderated online ux it's not realistic to use the full set of methods on a given project, nearly all projects would benefit from multiple research methods and from combining insights. Unfortunately many design teams only use one or two methods that they are familiar with. Following chart illustrates where 20 popular methods appear along these dimensions:Each dimension provides a way to distinguish among studies in terms of the questions they answer and the purposes they are most suited attitudinal vs. The purpose of attitudinal research is usually to understand or measure people's stated beliefs, which is why attitudinal research is used heavily in marketing most usability studies should rely more on behavior, methods that use self-reported information can still be quite useful to designers. For example, card sorting provides insights about users' mental model of an information space, and can help determine the best information architecture for your product, application, or website. Focus groups tend to be less useful for usability purposes, for a variety of reasons, but provide a top-of-mind view of what people think about a brand or product concept in a group the other end of this dimension, methods that focus mostly on behavior seek to understand "what people do" with the product or service in question. For example a/b testing presents changes to a site's design to random samples of site visitors, but attempts to hold all else constant, in order to see the effect of different site-design choices on behavior, while eyetracking seeks to understand how users visually interact with interface n these two extremes lie the two most popular methods we use: usability studies and field studies. In field studies and usability studies, for example, the researcher directly observes how people use technology (or not) to meet their needs. Analysis of the data is usually not contrast, insights in quantitative methods are typically derived from mathematical analysis, since the instrument of data collection (e. Survey tool or web-server log) captures such large amounts of data that are easily coded to the nature of their differences, qualitative methods are much better suited for answering questions about why or how to fix a problem, whereas quantitative methods do a much better job answering how many and how much types of questions. For example, a benchmarking study is usually very tightly scripted and more quantitative in nature, so that it can produce reliable usability s where the product is not used are conducted to examine issues that are broader than usage and usability, such as a study of the brand or larger cultural methods use a creative form of product usage to meet their goals. For example, participatory-design methods allows users to interact with and rearrange design elements that could be part of a product experience, in order discuss how their proposed solutions would better meet their needs and why they made certain choices. Concept-testing methods employ a rough approximation of a product or service that gets at the heart of what it would provide (and not at the details of the experience) in order to understand if users would want or need such a product or of the methods in the chart can move along one or more dimensions, and some do so even in the same study, usually to satisfy multiple goals. Important distinction to consider when making a choice among research methodologies is the phase of product development and its associated gize: in the beginning phase of the product development, you typically consider new ideas and opportunities for the future. Research methods in this phase can vary e: eventually, you will reach a "go/no-go" decision point, when you transition into a period when you are continually improving the design direction that you have chosen. Research in this phase is mainly formative and helps you reduce the risk of : at some point, the product or service will be available for use by enough users so that you can begin measuring how well you are doing. This is typically summative in nature, and might be done against the product’s own historical data or against its table below summarizes these goals and lists typical research approaches and methods associated with each:Product development e, explore and choose new directions and and optimize designs in order to reduce risk and improve e product performance against itself or its ative and qualitative (formative). Studies, diary studies, surveys, data mining, or sorting, field studies, participatory design, paper prototype, and usability studies, desirability studies, customer ity benchmarking, online assessments, surveys, a/b many user-experience research methods have their roots in scientific practice, their aims are not purely scientific and still need to be adjusted to meet stakeholder needs. This is why the characterizations of the methods here are meant as general guidelines, rather than rigid the end, the success of your work will be determined by how much of an impact it has on improving the user experience of the website or product in question.
Ux methods in ’s a short description of the user research methods shown in the above chart:Usability-lab studies: participants are brought into a lab, one-on-one with a researcher, and given a set of scenarios that lead to tasks and usage of specific interest within a product or raphic field studies: researchers meet with and study participants in their natural environment, where they would most likely encounter the product or service in ipatory design: participants are given design elements or creative materials in order to construct their ideal experience in a concrete way that expresses what matters to them most and groups: groups of 3–12 participants are lead through a discussion about a set of topics, giving verbal and written feedback through discussion and iews: a researcher meets with participants one-on-one to discuss in depth what the participant thinks about the topic in cking: an eyetracking device is configured to precisely measure where participants look as they perform tasks or interact naturally with websites, applications, physical products, or ity benchmarking: tightly scripted usability studies are performed with several participants, using precise and predetermined measures of ted remote usability studies: usability studies conducted remotely with the use of tools such as screen-sharing software and remote control rated remote panel studies: a panel of trained participants who have video recording and data collection software installed on their own personal devices uses a website or product while thinking aloud, having their experience recorded for immediate playback and analysis by the researcher or t testing: a researcher shares an approximation of a product or service that captures the key essence (the value proposition) of a new concept or product in order to determine if it meets the needs of the target audience; it can be done one-on-one or with larger numbers of participants, and either in person or /camera studies: participants are given a mechanism (diary or camera) to record and describe aspects of their lives that are relevant to a product or service, or simply core to the target audience; diary studies are typically longitudinal and can only be done for data that is easily recorded by er feedback: open-ended and/or close-ended information provided by a self-selected sample of users, often through a feedback link, button, form, or bility studies: participants are offered different visual-design alternatives and are expected to associate each alternative with a set of attributes selected from a closed list; these studies can be both qualitative and sorting: a quantitative or qualitative method that asks users to organize items into groups and assign categories to each group. This method helps create or refine the information architecture of a site by exposing users’ mental tream analysis: analyzing the record of screens or pages that users clicks on and sees, as they use a site or software product; it requires the site to be instrumented properly or the application to have telemetry data collection enabled. B testing (also known as “multivariate testing,” “live testing,” or “bucket testing”): a method of scientifically testing different designs on a site by randomly assigning groups of users to interact with each of the different designs and measuring the effect of these assignments on user rated ux studies: a quantitative or qualitative and automated method that uses a specialized research tool to captures participant behaviors (through software installed on participant computers/browsers) and attitudes (through embedded survey questions), usually by giving participants goals or scenarios to accomplish with a site or -intent studies: a method that asks random site visitors what their goal or intention is upon entering the site, measures their subsequent behavior, and asks whether they were successful in achieving their goal upon exiting the ept surveys: a survey that is triggered during the use of a site or surveys: a survey in which participants are recruited from an email details about the methods and the dimensions of use in the full-day training course on user research methods: from strategy to requirements to this article: twitter | linkedin | google+ | ing the user & why of > how to & tools > methods > user research research ing usability test reporting results from a usability test, you should focus primarily on your findings and recommendations that are differentiated by levels of severity. To do so, you’ll want ting usability test is vital to recruit participants who are similar to your site users for your usability testing. Originally created by john brooke in 1986, it allows you to these interviews, researchers watch and listen as users work in the user’s own environment, as opposed to being in a lab. Through a focus group, you can learn about users’ attitudes, beliefs, desires, and reactions to dual individual interviews, an interviewer talks with one user for 30 minutes to an hour. Individual interviews allow you to probe their attitudes, beliefs, desires, and experiences to get a deeper understanding of the users who come to your purpose of personas is to create reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for online survey is a structured questionnaire that your target audience completes over the internet generally through a filling out a form. Online surveys can vary in length and ios describe the stories and context behind why a specific user or user group comes to your site. They note the goals and questions to be achieved and sometimes define the possibilities of how the user(s) can achieve them on the analysis is the process of learning about ordinary users by observing them in action to understand in detail how they perform their tasks and achieve their intended goals. Ing the user & why of usabilityuser research > what & why of usability > user research research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. Types of user research you can or should perform will depend on the type of site, system or app you are developing, your timeline, and your to perform user research by the user-centered design (ucd) process, we have provided examples of the types of research could perform at each phase of your project. A methodology may appear in one or in several sorting - allows users to group your site’s information. This helps ensure that the site structure matches the way users tual interviews - enable you to observe users in their natural environment, giving you a better understanding of the way users click testing - a testing method focused on navigation, which can be performed on a functioning website, a prototype, or a groups - moderated discussion with a group of users, allow you to learn about user attitudes, ideas, and tic evaluation/expert review - a group of usability experts evaluating your website against a list of established dual interviews - one-on-one discussions with users show you how a particular user works. They enable you to get detailed information about a user's attitudes, desires, and el design - a design methodology that involves several designers pursuing the same effort simultaneously, but independently, with the intention to combine the best aspects of each for the ultimate as - the creation of a representative user based on available data and user interviews. Though the personal details of the persona may be fiction, the information used to create the user type is yping - allows the design team to explore ideas before implementing them by creating a mock-up of the site. A prototype can range from a paper mock-up to interactive html s - a series of questions asked to multiple users of your website, help you learn about the people who visit your usability scale (sus) - sus is a technology independent ten item scale for subjective evaluation of the analysis - involves learning about user goals, including what users want to do on your website, and helps you understand the tasks that users will perform on your ity testing - identifies user frustrations and problems with your site through one-on-one sessions where a "real-life" user performs tasks on your cases - provide a description of how users use a particular feature of your website. They provide a detailed look at how users interact with the site, including the steps users take to accomplish each project planning you should:Consult the ucd guide for a step-by-step visual map to guide you through the user-centered design er when testing can be incorporated in your the target audience(s) for the site. This will assist the ux team in:Recruiting fying tasks for ing the user experience: a practitioner's guide for user research by mike ting participants & the legend of “the general public”. An industry devoted to the people who use our products, services, and applications, research is paramount. We learn everything we can about the target audience, and then iteratively test our work throughout the design research—or as it’s sometimes called, design research—serves many purposes throughout the design process.
Overall, research informs our work, improves our understanding, and validates our this complete beginner’s guide, we’ll look at the many elements of design research, from interviews and observations, to usability testing and a/b testing. Readers will get a head start on how to use these design research techniques in their work, and improve experiences for all tasks and ations and research encompasses a variety of investigative methods used to add context and insight to the design process. Unlike other sub-fields of ux, research did not develop out of some other field or fields. In other words, ux practitioners have borrowed many techniques from academics, scientists, market researchers, and others. However, there are still types of research that are fairly unique to the ux main goal of design research is to inform the design process from the perspective of the end user. It’s fairly well accepted that the purpose of ux or user-centered design is to design with the end-user in mind, and it’s research that tells us who that person is, in what context they’ll use this product or service, and what they need from that in mind, research has two parts: gathering data, and synthesizing that data in order to improve usability. At the start of the project, design research is focused on learning about project requirements from stakeholders, and learning about the needs and goals of the end users. Researchers will conduct interviews, collect surveys, observe prospects or current users, and review existing literature, data, or analytics. Researchers may conduct usability tests or a/b tests, interview users about the process, and generally test assumptions that will improve the , indi. New york: rosenfeld can also divide ux research methods into two camps: quantitative and tative research is any research that can be measured numerically. It answers questions such as “how many people clicked here” or “what percentage of users are able to find the call to action? It’s valuable in understanding statistical likelihoods and what is happening on a site or in an ative research is sometimes called “soft” research. Researchers may specialize in specific types of interviews or tests, most are capable of conducting a wide variety of techniques. All researchers collect the valuable information that allows us to design in an informed, contextual, user-centered various types of ux research range from in-person interviews to unmoderated a/b tests (and everything in between), though they are consistent in that they all stem from the same key methodologies: observation, understanding, and first step to conducting research is learning to observe the world around us. Design researchers train themselves to observe and take notes so that they can later find patterns across seemingly diverse groups of like observation, understanding is something we do all the time in our daily lives. But for ux researchers, understanding has less to do with disagreements, and more to do with mental models. The mental model informs the decisions we make; in the case of the car owners, when asked “how long does it take to drive to winnipeg,” their answers will vary based on the gas mileage their vehicles get, among other researchers need to understand the mental models of the people they interview or test, for two reasons. Second, if the researcher can accurately identify the user’s mental model, he or she can share this information with the design team, and design to accommodate the ch on its own can be valuable, but in order to use the insights to inform design, it needs to be analyzed and ultimately presented to a larger team. Analysis is the process by which the researcher identifies patterns in the research, proposes possible rationale or solutions, and makes analysis techniques include creating personas or scenarios, describing mental models, or providing charts and graphs that represent statistics and user behaviors. Although the techniques described here are focused predominantly on conducting research, it’s important to remember that research is only valuable if it is shared.
It does no one any good when it’s locked away in a cabinet, or forgotten in the excitement of tasks and ux project is different, and the tasks that one researcher takes on will differ from those appropriate in another setting. Some of the most popular forms of research are interviews, surveys and questionnaires, card sorts, usability tests, tree tests, and a/b -on-one interviews are a tried and true method of communication between a researcher and a user or stakeholder. This can be useful when conducting interviews with a large number of users, or when looking to compare and contrast answers from various -directed interviews are the best way to learn about touchier subjects, where users or stakeholders may be put off by direct questions. The interviewer will mostly listen during this “conversation,” speaking only to prompt the user or stakeholder to provide additional detail or explain raphic interviews involve observing what people do as they go about their days in their “natural habitats. In this sort of interview, the user shows the interviewee how they accomplish certain tasks, essentially immersing the interviewer in their work or home culture. This can help researchers understand the gaps between what people actually do, and what they say they do. It can also shed light on things that users do when they are feeling most s and onnaires and surveys are an easy way to gather a large amount of information about a group, while spending minimal time. These are a great research choice for projects that have a large and diverse group of users, or a group that is concerned with anonymity. A researcher can create a survey using tools like wufoo or google docs, email it out, and receive hundreds of responses in just are downsides to surveys and questionnaires though. The researcher can’t interact directly with the respondent, and therefore can’t help with interpreting questions or framing them if the wording isn’t quite perfect, and they typically have a limited ability for follow up. In a card sort, a user is provided with a set of terms, and asked to categorize them. In a closed card sort, the user is also given the category names; in an open card sort the user creates whatever categories he or she feels are most goal of a card sort is to explore relationships between content, and better understand the hierarchies that a user perceives. Many content strategists and information architects rely on card sorts to test out hierarchy theories, or kickstart work on a site ity testing involves asking potential or current users of a product or service to complete a set of tasks, and observing their behavior to determine the usability of the product or service. In a moderated test an unbiased facilitator sits talks with the user, reading aloud the task and prompting the user to think aloud as he or she accomplishes the task. The facilitator’s role is to act as a conduit between stakeholders and the user, phrasing questions to evaluate the effectiveness of a design and test assumptions while helping the user feel comfortable with the rated usability tests, sometimes also known as asynchronous research, is conducted online, at the user’s convenience. The tasks and instructions are delivered via video or recorded audio, and the user clicks a button to begin the test and record his or her screen and audio. Just like in the moderated test, users are encouraged to speak their thoughts aloud, though there is no facilitator to ask follow up questions. Instead of renting a lab, guerrilla research is typically done out in the community; users are found at coffee shops or subway stations and asked to complete basic tasks with a website or service, in exchange for a few dollars, a coffee, or just out of the goodness of their hearts. While guerrilla testing is a great option, particularly on a budget, it is best used only for products or services with a large user base. In a tree test, users are given a task, and shown the top level of a site map.
However, unlike in a usability test, the user doesn’t see a screen when they choose a site section. An a/b test is typically chosen as the appropriate research form when designers are struggling to choose between two competing elements. A link, or two approaches to a home screen, an a/b test requires randomly showing each version to an equal number of users, and then reviewing analytics on which version better accomplished a specific goal. A/b testing is particularly valuable when comparing a revised screen to an older version, or when collecting data to prove an people have contributed greatly to the field of experience design research. Here are just a few that readers may choose to follow, to learn er romano works as both a user and product researcher. He built the research practice at mailchimp, and is now the senior researcher at vox media. He formerly taught design, branding, and typography at georgia state university and the savannah college of art and design, and is now an occasional guest bolt has held numerous research positions, often with a focus on remote research. He ran the research and design firm bolt | peters, which focused on remote work and was acquired by facebook. Nate then became a design research manager at facebook and instagram, and now works on ethnio, a project begun at bolt | peters which became the first moderated remote user research software. Nate keeps an online blog, boltron, and in 2010 authored remote research: real users, real time, real 2001, erika co-founded mule design studio with mike monteiro, where she directs the research, interaction design, and strategy practices. She speaks at conferences and writes on medium about cross-disciplinary collaboration and the importance of natural language in user interfaces. Erika is the author of just enough research, and the creator of unsuck-it, a site dedicated to removing and replacing useless usability testing comes up, there’s one name that people think of: steve krug. Steve has been working as a usability consultant for over 20 years, starting before most people thought of user experience or usability as worthwhile concerns. His iewing users: how to uncover compelling insights is one of the most clear and illuminating books available for anyone learning to truly listen to users. He also produces a monthly podcast called dollars to donuts, where he speaks with user researchers at a variety of organizations, and blogs has spent the last 15 years researching and designing usable interfaces for projects. Kyle is the founder and past president of the new hampshire chapter of the user experience professionals’ association (nh uxpa), she has served as the chair of phillychi, the philadelphia chapter of the association for computing machinery’s special interest group on computer-human interaction (acm sigchi), and she served as the new hampshire ambassador for the user experience network (uxnet). He is a recognized authority on user interface design and human factors, and gives the keynote annually at uie’s ui conference and ux immersion research has the potential to be a sizable undertaking, sometimes to the point that budgetary and scheduling concerns scare people away. The tools we have available are responsible for much of that was the first moderated remote research software when it launched, and it’s still going strong. Ethnio finds users who are currently using a site or app, and (with their permission) allows interviewers to ask them questions about their experience as they go. The full workshop is a bundle of four research tools, all of which are also available sold separately (and very affordably).
It’s available as a free basic version, or for a monthly fee with additional more about it’s not possible to schedule a real-time test with users, usertesting is a great way to see how people use a site. Researchers can create a series of tasks, and then receive videos from participants—either pre-chosen, or randomly selected. Researchers are able to see a video of the participant using the site, and speaking aloud to explain what they’re doing. Usertesting offers basic and pro options, and prices more about good news is, whatever you need, userzoom has it. Still, for organizations with the budget to handle it, userzoom is a solid, effective more about ations and a way, all usability conferences are design research conferences. While the other areas of ux tend to have conferences that cater to their factions, trends, or best practices, researchers are by nature generalists, who seek out ways to learn more about humans and usability. To that end, we recommend a little bit of everything, to keep researchers up to puts on an annual conference, bringing together thought leaders and tried-and-true concepts for ux practitioners to learn from as much as they learn from one another. One great thing about this conference is uie’s commitment to helping people attend, whether in person or usability world usability conference, the talks cover all areas of usability, user experience, and customer experience management. Research + in brighton, england, the drs conference responds to the questions, how can design research help frame and address the societal problems that face us? How can design research be a creative and active force for rethinking ideas about design? And how can design research shape our lives in more responsible, meaningful, and open ways? By focusing on how design research impacts people in today’s society, they turn a light on the human side of our user experience professionals association is open to everyone working in ux. Local chapters often host conferences, sponsor events, and create a network for local ux are many books that focus on interviews, usability testing, a/b testing, and other specific areas of design research. These are just a smattering of books that cover the big ing the user eth goodman, mike kuniavsky, and andrea we think our users are is not always the same as who they actually are. In observing the user experience, the authors explain not only the difference, but why it matters, and how to find the actual users. Once we understand who our users truly are, we can design for what they research through practice: from the lab, field, and koskinen, john zimmerman, thomas binder, johan redstrom, and stephan uctive design research is a contemporary research style derived from both industrial and interaction design. The book gathers information from all sorts of research experts: those in traditional lab science, social science, art, industrial design, ux and hci, and provides teachable techniques for researchers in surgery made best part of rocket surgery made easy isn’t that you can finish it on a short plane ride (though you can). Included in the book is a 6 page sample usability test script that walks proctors through administering a hypothetical user test, and a usability testing checklist that explains what to do in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to guerilla usability tanding your users: a practical guide to user requirements methods, tools, and baxter, catherine courage, kelly first recommended this book back in 2010, but now there’s a new, revised second edition, and we’re happy to recommend it again! Understanding your users shows real-world examples, and tried and true methods of gathering information from users. It’s great for new ux practitioners and for experts looking for a fresh ting product ideas: through lean user all want to learn what users are thinking quickly and efficiently, but it seems an impossible task.