Successful User Experience is preceded by User Research (UX Research) in order to be truly successful. It must be clear in advance what constitutes a good UX in the first place. UX research helps from the very beginning to work out a meaningful UX strategy and ultimately to achieve sales goals. Before you can determine the right application of a UX Research, it is important at first to understand a definition of User Experience (UX). All aspects of it can vary from product to product and have a lasting impact on the nature & processes of UX Research.
What is User Experience?
The UX is the user’s application experience when interacting with an app or website, or when using a physical item. The user experience is directly related to user satisfaction. As a driving factor for customer satisfaction, the user experience usually determines the commercial success of a product or manufacturer. While the user experience of digital goods usually involves optimizing human-computer interaction, UX also translates real-world customer experience factors well into the digital realm. When a customer goes shopping in a store, there are several factors that persuade them to be a consumer. These include:
- Navigation in the store and at the shelves: Can the customer find their way around quickly, do they understand the logistics and arrangement of the products?
- Is the staff friendly and responsive?
- Are the customer’s questions answered satisfactorily?
It is very similar with the digital UX. The expectation scheme is the same – the implementation varies. What needs to be taken into account here?
User Experience in digital world
The user experience for digital products is a bit more complex than that in the real world – the experience not only needs to be improved, but created as a first step. User Experience is:
- Visual Design – what the user interface looks like
- Content Design – how the user interface communicates
- Interaction Design – how the user interface interacts
The UX already begins with factors that are invisible to the user (all UX competences you can find here). The first interface is the visual design and visual communication, also called user interface (UI).
The user already decides in the first seconds of the application (consciously or unconsciously) about the quality of his user experience. It is important that the interface is functionally optimized and attractively designed. The design must communicate all important functions, but at the same time fulfill aesthetic aspects. Ideally, the user should be able to navigate through the app or website without any problems and find the design both cognitively and emotionally appealing. When it comes to navigation, special attention should be paid to intuition. A good user experience starts with the user being able to access the desired information/product purely intuitively.
Although the user interface (UI) is a large part of the user experience (UX), these terms should not be equated. The difference between UX and UI is that the UX describes the entire user experience of the user, while the UI only deals with the external presentation. So it is the interface between human and machine, but only on the surface. Nevertheless, it builds trust in the first few seconds – an appealing design motivates the user to examine the application in detail. At this moment, it is crucial that a well-designed foundation exists to execute operational decisions.
. Interaction design meets information design .
The framework that needs to be optimized in intuitive UX is the information architecture. It deals with the usability of all functions as well as the findability of all relevant information and applications. Metadata of the documents, images and data used and their structure also play an important role in this process.
Another important factor is interaction design. This area deals with the options the user has while actively using the app or website. This includes, for example, drag-and-drop functions, key combinations or sequences of the user’s performed actions. Interaction design thus determines how the user can interact with a program and what the program can offer the user in return. This also includes animations, graphics as well as auditory perception such as warning sounds.
. Usability – the core of the user experience is usability .
The final and probably most important point is usability. Usability is defined by the following aspects:
How efficient is the app or website in handling? Is it pleasant and easy to use, or is it complicated by a learning curve?
Are the functions clearly evident, is the program responsive? Usability is a key element of the user experience and often defines user satisfaction and the functionality of the app or website. An app or website must be fully functional upon release. Consumer needs have changed over the years and become more demanding. What used to be considered a “good customer experience” in a store is already taken for granted by today’s digital user.
Therefore, it is even more important to understand the customer precisely, identify their needs, and adequately adapt their behaviors to the UX. In the real world, market research is conducted for this purpose – in the digital world, it is user experience research.
UX Research includes the analysis of the customer’s behavior, motivation and needs of the customer. It attempts to define in advance whether a product will be successful. UX Research helps companies achieve the following:
- Understanding the user experience for new products, websites, apps and prototypes.
- Informed decision making during the product development process (e.g., product design)
- Optimization of user experience and interaction
- Fundamental insights on how to strategically evolve the product
To conduct effective UX research, the following five basic steps must be defined:
OBJECTIVES: What needs to be found out about the users and their needs?
HYPOTHESIS: What is already known about user behavior from the past?
METHODS: What research methods should be used – based on deadline, project type, and research team size?
CONDUCT: What data need to be aggregated to identify user preferences and needs?
SYNTHESIZE: How can the analysis of the collected data be conducted efficiently?
The selection of the right method(s) in UX research depends on several factors. Here, the focus is not only on the product to be developed, but also on various factors of production, such as available resources (e.g., size of the research team) or organizational framework conditions (e.g., deadlines).
Three research dimensions need to be distinguished:
1. Attitude vs. Behavior
“Attitude” describes what users think or say versus what the user ultimately does – “behavior”. The researcher must therefore first understand what the user’s views are, and subsequently what purpose the product should serve based on them. These two factors are sometimes very different from each other. Therefore, an A/B test is recommended for empirical survey purposes. Here, for example, a randomly selected visitor is presented with different versions of a website’s design without changing its functions in order to analyze the effects of different page design factors on behavior. Eye tracking, meanwhile, seeks to understand how users visually interact with the design of user interfaces.
2. Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Quantitative research studies quantify and generalize the results of a sample, measured against a population. They usually require a large number of representative cases to draw valuable conclusions and are structured according to their survey approach.
Quantitative research uses measurement tools such as surveys or analytics to generate a variety of data about how subjects use a product. This type of questioning aims to answer the three “W questions” (“what,” “where,” and “when”). Qualitative research methods, on the other hand, gather information about users by observing them directly and individually, in focus groups or field studies. Qualitative research aims to understand the human side of data and develop an understanding of the underlying reasons and motivations for consumer behavior. It tends to use few (and non-representative) cases, and the interview approach is less structured and more customized. Qualitative methods are best suited to investigate the “how” or “why” of consumer behavior.
3. Context of use
This method allows researchers to make an analysis about the context of use of the product. Here, data is collected that reveals information about the intended use of the application as well as its tasks and application. To shed empirical light on this, context of use analysis data is collected through surveys, interviews, site visits, focus groups, and observational studies. Context of use analysis is used to identify the most important elements of an application or product in the context of its use and is thus an important component of UX research.
. UX Research is the most important part of UX processes .
UX research enables companies to achieve more output with fewer resources. This is because using the right UX research method minimizes the likelihood of making incorrect assumptions in the design process or product development. Without UX Research, one runs the risk of having to make repairs in downstream steps that may have a negative impact on the product’s image. Thus, UX Research is valuable for all areas of the company and offers clear benefits for the product, the user and the end result. The focus is also on achieving the UX goals that characterize a successful product.
Key UX Goals
Business goals: A product should generate sales, profits, earnings. Many companies want to establish themselves in the market with a product and then cross-sell. This is only possible with a product that impresses with excellent UX.
User needs: There are so many desires and needs of a user – a good UX covers them completely. This is the only way a product can achieve a unique selling point (USP) and stand out from the competition.
Technology: expectations of technology are constantly changing. New products must not only meet these new technologies, but also ideally include innovations that the user did not know about before (“creating desire & demand”).
Design & aesthetics: Both points are a matter of course. It is not only important to make the user interface (UI) appealing, but also to optimize the entire visual UX for functionality and comprehensibility.
Through user research, you reduce uncertainties about the needs and situation of your target group and make sure that your product is well received by your users.