Tips from a e-ux.pro UX researcher!
Some say that UX research is the most exciting part of the project as it gives a chance to interact with the potential end-users. The research stage is also a decisive stage. The quality of findings will impact the quality of the final version of the digital product. Since a lot is at stake, we decided to pick our researcher’s brain and ask for any tips on how to conduct a thorough and effective UX research (even if it needs to be done on the budget). She was so lovely and helpful, that we ended up with a lot of useful information that we squeezed into this article. We shall begin with research planning, then move on to the tools you will need, and then we will discuss top tips to finalise your learning experience. Enjoy the read!
Planning your research
Research Plan is a seemingly modest document, that should include research outline information such as the goal and the methodology. The document will support you in your further study.
When planning your research, ask yourself the following questions:
— what is the design challenge?
— what research problem will be the focus of the study?
— What research questions do we want to ask our respondents / what do we want to learn from them?
— What research method will be used and why?
— Who are the respondents and how are we going to reach them?
While you are working hard on your research and being constantly flooded with information, it is easy to lose track of the primary goal. Refer yourself to the research plan whenever you are in doubt of the direction the research was supposed to lead you to.
UX research (online) tools!
A UX research project usually begins with a client workshop. Figma Jam or Miro are the perfect tools for creating interaction space for such a workshop. They can also be a helping hand in mind mapping the research data. Features such as post-it-notes most definitely help with creating an engaging visual board of all the information you have and what information you are still missing. For remote research, there are several online tools we can recommend. Thanks to UserZoom you can conduct remote usability tests. One of the modules on UserZoom allows respondent participation which means you can watch the respondents complete tasks on their devices. For A/B testing, we recommend using Optimizely. With this tool you can test which call to action has a better influence on the conversion or you can test the placement of a given input. An algorithm is registering user behaviour thanks to a code that is embedded in the website. If it’s information architecture that you need to test, then you can use OptimalWorkshop instead. It is used to conduct research on information architecture efficiently. OptimalWorkshop allows to research how respondents understand and classify the information as well as check whether organisation of the content on the website meets their expectations. For building questionnaires, use Google Forms or Survey Monkey. Before you choose one of them, however, check what functionality is available through the free version.
If you are meeting with your interviewees face-to-face we recommend recording the interview with a voice recorder. You may find it impossible to focus on the conversation and note-taking at the same time. The memory can’t be relied on so by not recording the interview, you expose yourself to losing important information that is often provided through indirect responses.
After an interview has been recorded, you can convert audio files of any format using http://online-audio-converter.com. The program is simple to use, does not need to be installed, runs fairly quickly, and provides a sufficiently wide range of input and output file types. Converting the audio file helps with information sharing.
After you have gathered your data, it’s time for analysis and writing up recommendations! We found that the most reliable tool for data analysis is the good old Excel. An appropriately constructed table will help you find dependencies in the research material and draw objective conclusions from them. After your write up your conclusions, use Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to double check for any spelling or grammar mistakes.
And finally… Top tips!
1. Preliminary Research
If you are researching a topic you know very little about, it may seem like a daunting task to prepare the concept for research methods. That is where the desk research comes in! Desk research will help you explore the subject area and find out if some answers to your questions are already available. When planning your research, take a while to think about what sort of data you can obtain from industry reports, National Statistics websites, or other reliable resources. This can also form a part of your desk research! Finding the data from a reliable source will save you time when conducting user research. You won’t have to ask your users these questions and you will be able to focus on more important things!
2. Preparing Methodology
When choosing a methodology for your research, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Coming up with special tricks for user testing is risky as you never know what results you will get, and the reliability and representativeness of the results is researchers’ top priority. Another crucial factor that you need to remember about is collecting sufficient amount of website conversions to draw significant conclusions from.
3. Searching for Participants
A very cost-efficient way to finding research participants is to join Facebook groups related to the topic of your interest. Once your request is approved, you can conduct a webnography, post a question and ask for a response in comments, or invite a few members to participate in an interview.
Don’t invite just anyone to join the study. It is very important to reach the right people with your research proposal. The right people are those who are the target audience of the product you are researching. When recruiting for research, always use a screener to check eligibility. A screener is a document that includes screening questions that you are going to use to filter through your research participants. The goal is to reassure that your participants are indeed your target group.
Lastly, it is a good practice to inform users about their contribution to the project goal in an appropriate manner. Avoid addressing your interviewee in a confrontational tone. For example, avoid statements like “we will see how you are doing”, “we will examine your answers”, “research subject” to avoid any cues that may make the respondent feel like a person who is being tested in any way. Fear of judgment or a general feeling of discomfort may influence the respondent’s behavior during the study. Effect? We will not get the information we need and the quality of the test results will be affected.
4. Interviews and Focus Groups
Record your interview sessions with a voice recorder to be able to return to your interviews later, with a clear mind. Taking notes will distract you from paying attention to interviewee’s information. There is also a risk from taking incomplete notes. Remember to ask your interviewees for consent to record their voice.
When interviewing your participants be wary of curse of knowledge. Listen to your interviewee without trying to predict their answer. When scheduling meetings, never assume that you will finish your research ideally on time. If you happen to come across a chatterbox interviewee that has really valuable knowledge to share with you, you shouldn’t interrupt the flow. Plan your schedule so the next task starts at least 15 minutes after the meeting is supposed to end, so that you can sit in a little bit longer or just have a breather after the interview has ended.
Currently, many one-to-one and focus group interviews occur remotely. While conducting remote testing with users, be prepared for technical malfunctions such as sudden drop of the internet connection, low battery, or software errors that always occur in crucial moments like this! Therefore always have a phone with a hotspot functionality on you. Bring along an extra voice recorder, laptop charger, phone charger, or a power bank (don’t forget USB cable), and save the meeting URL in a few places.
Are you preparing a questionnaire? Fantastic! It is the perfect way to collect plenty of useful information but before you send the questionnaire to your respondents, test run it on one of your friends. Their experience will help you with spotting any easy-fixes! Those include any unclear questions, spelling mistakes, wrong sentence structure, or jargon language.
Before you start drafting your questionnaire using a free tool (for example Google Forms or SurveyMonkey), double-check how many surveys are allowed within the unpaid bundle. One of our researchers needed 150 responses to make her research significant. She was extremely surprised when halfway through the research, the system announced that only 100 responses can be collected. It was one of the most stressful experiences for her career!
Once you have all the technicalities sorted, you will need to design questions. While you are doing that, take a deep breath and ask yourself what is it exactly that you need to find out from the respondents. Additionally, it is important to give participants the opportunity to give you as much information as possible. Try to include open-ended questions in your survey. Lastly, remember that the title and its emotional weight are key elements of any survey. The phrasing of the title of the questionnaire can influence an attitude the interviewer will bring into their responses, thus the quality of the research.
That’s all tips we have got for you this time! We hope that you enjoyed the read and found many useful instructions that will save you time and mistakes in your own research.