The Why, How and What of UX Research - Part 1


September 17, 2014

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, you've used qualitative feedback in the past. After reading this article, you will do it knowingly, using the right methods and leverage the right tools to do it effectively.

UX Research is a * systematic study* into the overall experience of a person using your product or service, establish * facts* and reach a * conclusion* .

With the advent of * just-throw-in-a-few-lines-of-javascript* analytics tools like Google Analytics and Heap Analytics, many are increasingly relying on Analytics. Sure, it can be a good starting point but let's look at a few cases when you would want to rely on qualitative feedback:

  1. Your app boasts a kick-ass UI, but your analytics shows a 90% drop-off after sign-up. It's great that analytics was able to point that out to you, but the 'why?' is something best answered using qualitative research.

  2. If you have a large user base, analytics enjoys reduced risks due to large sample size. But it's mostly lagging and you wouldn't know until your new awesome feature has reached your audience. If you have a reputation to protect, you might want to get early feedback using qualitative research methods.

  3. When you are researching about a new idea, it pays to dig deeper into the problem you are trying to solve and know the target customer segment better.

Quantitative Vs. Qualitative

Qualitative methods are much better suited for answering question about * why* or * how to fix a problem* , whereas quantitative methods do a much better job answering * how many* and * how much type* of questions.

You sit with a participant and observe how he uses your product. You take notes as he follows a think-aloud protocol. * Qualitative Feedback.*

You do that with 30 people and conclude that 80% of the participants faced a problem in the on-boarding process. You've now turned the test into * Quantitative in nature* .

Ideally, a combination of both are required to make effective decisions. Take a look at the image below:

how Attitudinal vs. Behavioral affect the types of questions that can be asked

To know more, read When to Use Which User Experience Research Methods

User Research Vs. User Testing

If done before or during the design phase, these techniques are collectively known as User Research; if after, they’re known as User Testing.

User Research attempts to answer questions like * “who will use this design?”* and * “how does this concept work in the context of our users’ workflow,”* whereas user testingseeks to answer: * “how effective is this design?”*


Now that you know what UX research is all about and why it is important, let's look at how to conduct the research.

  1. Identify Customer Segment

  2. Form Hypothesis

  3. Choose a Method

  4. Recruit Users

  5. Conduct Test and Analyse Results

  6. Rinse and Repeat

If you've put enough thought into who you have been talking to and how the testing goes, talking to just 5 people can go a long way. Read more on NNGroup

Good Resources:

In the next few articles we'll go over the steps in detail. Also, If you would like help with Lean UX and Usability Testing, schedule a free call with me now.