5 best practices to improve your user research

Winning in a crowded marketplace requires companies and organizations to make user experience (UX) a priority. As the market becomes increasingly competitive, the brands that stay relevant are the ones that know and understand their users.

Forbes reports that consumers will pay as much as 17% more from a company known for great service.

Comprehensive UX research is instrumental to improving overall customer service. However, user research can be a challenge to carry out because it involves so many moving parts. For one, it requires you to understand the characters of your business segments and validate what they say and do.

In this article, we’ll outline several methods and best practices for performing UX research to increase accuracy and ensure success.

1. Know your user

This might seem elementary, but many businesses still fall short in their efforts to understand the true likings and inclinations of their customers.

Studies have shown that 80% of consumers feel that the average brand doesn’t understand them as individuals. A significant reason for this is that most brands put out traditional surveys that annoy customers and badger them at the wrong time.

The reality is UX research is not sexy. That’s why many choose to ignore it, especially when they are working on something more valuable.

That said, you must figure out the best time for your users to take part in the UX research process to prevent them from bailing out in the middle of the journey.

One way to do this is to create personas to understand them on a personal level and unlock insights into their desires and behaviors. This eliminates your internal preferences and biases, which makes it easier to focus on what they actually need.

You can get to know your user even better by using qualitative research to gain a deep understanding of their goals, needs, and expectations. This means knowing who they are; what they do; when, where, why, and how they do it; and what they like or dislike about it.

2. Establish a comprehensive user-centered design process

It isn’t uncommon for companies to design their products with a focus on technological capabilities, innovative features, and business goals. While there’s nothing wrong with that, these approaches to design undermine the most critical component of the process: the end user.

By establishing a comprehensive user-centered design (UCD) process, you put the person using the product at the core of the design process rather than the product itself.

UCD boils down to always thinking from the user’s perspective and aiming to research and create products and solutions that never make them think about what they need to do next.

It’s worth noting that the lack of an in-depth UCD process can result in lost time and effort, which can often spell the difference between the failure or success of a project.

On the flip side, the advantages of a UCD process are three-fold. It not only helps users and developers, but also allows business executives to save time, reduce costs, and improve overall satisfaction.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all process for creating UCD, it is important that you specify the context of use and requirements as well as create and evaluate design solutions in each phase. This helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of who will be using the product, considering that the UCD process usually does not specify an exact method for each stage.

3. Use the right research method at every stage

Using an appropriate research method is critical to achieving your goals and objectives. With the right UX methods, you can keep product development efforts on track at every stage of the design process.

But it’s important to note that each project is different, so the stages are not always categorized methodically.

When deciding where to start, you can use UX research methods such as stakeholder and user interviews in the discovery phase, or competitive analyses and journey mapping in the exploration stage.

You can also use qualitative benchmarking and message testing and analytics reviews in the test and listen phases.

Either way, it’s a good idea to use alternating and different methods for each product cycle because they are aimed at unique goals and types of insights. Depending on your top concerns, the type of product or service, system maturity, and time constraints, some UX research examples might be more suitable than others.

By conducting research at all stages, you can improve the value of your product or service by more than the cost of the research, ensuring profitability.

4. Hire a UX researcher

Getting started with user research can be challenging and confusing. There are numerous research techniques available and extensive skills needed to conduct research properly.

One way to navigate it more seamlessly is to hire a UX researcher.

UX researchers have the necessary technical training and degrees that make it easier to explore consumer behavior and motivation and perform in-depth research efficiently. They use the right set of research methodologies based on your project’s constraints, needs, and parameters.

In addition, the benefits of a college degree go beyond user research itself as these trained experts can work alongside your product developers in developing innovative features and products.

When hiring a UX researcher, make sure they are excellent designers who can define, design, and create existing and innovative products. You should see to it that they stay on top of emerging trends in UX and robotics and have the skills necessary to conduct dynamic user testing.

It’s also crucial that you consider the complexity and breadth of your products to ensure that you hire someone who will uncover the user’s underlying pain points and needs.

5. Conduct usability testing

Knowing how people interact with your product is vital to the success of your UX research efforts. By performing usability tests, you can validate your product’s ease of use and overall functionalities.

While there is no strictly defined usability testing method, the typical process involves identifying a product’s main pain points and evaluating if users understand the navigation.

It may also include testing competitors’ products and solutions to gather insights on what could be improved and changed in your product.

There are several instances where usability testing isn’t of much help. This includes validating desirability and estimating market demand or value, as well as collecting quantitative data about product usage and determining preferences between multiple versions of visuals.

A rule of thumb is to only conduct varied usability testing during the different stages of the product design process.

Taking advantage of user research tools is also essential to get more accurate results at lightning speed. The right user research tool will mitigate risk and fraud and allow for the personalization of products and services to make it more relevant to your target users.

Improve user research by using online alternatives

One way you can stay on top of the challenges posed by UX research is to take advantage of powerful online research tools such as PickFu.

With its panel of more than 10,000 respondents, PickFu removes the need for you to recruit research participants on your own. The platform enables you to poll a targeted audience of users and unlock valuable consumer insights much more quickly than other research and testing methods.

User research will help you set a strong foundation for your design strategies and understand how your users conduct tasks and accomplish objectives that are important to them.

Through this process, you put yourself in a position to respond with useful solutions and create better products.

Learn more: Build a better business by testing your business names, ideas, logos, marketing copy, and website designs on PickFu.