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Why you should involve a UX researcher in your project

Author

Maria Nikolava

Category

Business

Date

Sep 24, 2020

Software development is not about technical realization only. It is also about the ability to competently solve the users’ problems while meeting their expectations and taking the best marketing practices and psychological insights into account.

All these are within the competence of user experience (UX) researcher whose aim is to create a top-notch user experience to ensure that the application will be really demanded by your audience.

User experience research is half the success of any software, and that is why we decided to explain why it's so important to involve the UX researcher in the development process. 

Foundation: UX research definition and key points

Let’s define the concept of UX research first.

UX research is a comprehensive activity aimed to reveal and study the following points about the users, their specifics, and expectations:

  • Users’ goals
  • Users’ pain points
  • Users’ first impressions and actions
  • Users’ mental models
  • Users’ journey stages
  • Key terminology and concepts
  • Overall impression and experience
  • Efficiency and accessibility of your solution

Although the importance of UX research is doubtless, some founders still neglect this phase. 

To do or not to do — why do startupers say to skip the stage of the UX research

So, the list of issues you should study about your users and your future application is quite huge. However, some startup initiators consider this stage of app development unnecessary, arguing the following statements.

“It’s too expensive”

Yes, hiring a UX researcher means adding one more expense column to your initial estimate. However, 88% of users are very unlikely to return to the website or application if their previous experience was bad. What is more, 13% of customers will tell 15 or more people about it. 

Offering a poor user experience and making users feel frustrated will cost you significantly more. In this case, unfortunately, you are risking your investments and spoiling your reputation. Hiring a UX researcher from the very beginning makes more sense. 

“We know our customers pretty well”

Yes, you may and should know them pretty well. However, you are not your users. Researching their behavior models, way of perception, expectations, and impressions is key to providing them with the experience they really want to get. 

Everyone perceives differently — and the level of perception of your development team can’t perfectly match the perception of all of the users.

“Our customers don’t know that they really want”

Believe us, they know what they want. However, here you should take some psychological insights into account. 

Have you ever heard of the value-action gap? This is the case when a person says that he/she is going to do something, but doesn’t do it in real life. And that is why you should observe what they actually do since their statements may not coincide with their actions. 

The only way to observe their real-life behavior is to make it a part of your UX research plan. 

“It’s time-consuming”

Yes, the work of a UX researcher takes a lot of time BUT it saves a lot of development time instead.

Researching the specifics of the user experience you should provide requires you to invest your time in advance and get a solid chance to do everything right from the first try. 

UX research benefits you may miss if you skip this stage 

So, what are the benefits of UX research? 

  • Appealing and relevant design. The relevance is very subjective in this case since the design that may work well for some users may not necessarily work for another group. The task of design research is to find the perfect match that will be highly specific for your target audience segments.
  • Better ROI. Logically continuing the previous statement, the relevant design, the proper technical realization, and the well-thought-out marketing strategy allow you to quickly return your investments and get profits from your solution.
  • Faster development process. As we’ve stated, researching the user experience before the development process itself speeds up the technical realization of your solution since the designers and the developers have a clear road map free from navigation pitfalls.
  • LEAN methodology compliance. The core essence of LEAN development methodology is to test before investing. In the case of UX research, it sounds like research, test, and only then invest. This approach saves you money from the very beginning allowing you to create a product that will be paid off. 

Proceeding from the benefits above, here are the clear reasons why you should have a UX researcher as a part of your team:

  • Coming up with a comprehensive design strategy. The competent research of the design and user experience issues allows you to come up with a step-by-step strategy of what you should create.
  • Getting in touch with people can answer your business questions. The core essence of the UX research is to ask the right questions to the right people, observe their reactions, and take their suggestions into account. 
  • Develop an effective user journey. What is more, your users are quite able to tell and show you how they really want things to work.
  • Validate your hypothesis. You are not your users, as we’ve stated. However, your hypothesis about their expectations may be quite right. The only thing remaining is to validate it. Ideas and hypothesis validation are important principles of LEAN development methodology as well.
  • Get some insights from the competitors’ products analysis. UX research always involves competitors’ analysis so you may get additional benefits from improving their ideas to make them relevant for your audience. 

What does a UX researcher do for your project? 

Now let’s find out what a UX researcher is going to do for your project to help you with getting the benefits and achieving the goals above.

  • Research and discover. The UX research may start from guerilla approaches, according to which a researcher will be able to observe the user's behavior being hidden in the shade.
  • Analyze. Approaches such as eye-tracking and heat mapping allow a UX researcher to find out what your users are going to do with a solution offered. Paper prototypes may also be used.
  • Measure. Design research results should be measured to find the answers to even more specific questions. For example, if you are researching two segments of your target users, you may come up with mathematical relations to find out the points to focus on.
  • Ask specific questions. A UX researcher uses interviews and surveys, focus groups, and field studies plus in-lab testings to ask your users the right questions and get specific and real-life answers. 
  • Suggest. With all these specific insights in the pocket, a UX researcher, with the support of your development and design team, may suggest better realizations that will really work for your customers. 

How to come up with a competent UX research plan for your product?

UX research involves a lot of actions and initiatives that are highly specific for each web or mobile project. However, it is possible to come up with a universal UX research plan that will help you to move on step by step:

  1. Start with the problem you are solving. Clearly formulated problems are at the top of the user experience, and their experience of solving a problem with the help of your app should be as cutting-edge as possible.
  2. Move to the specifics of your users. Next, you should analyze the specifics of your users, their culture, mentality, lifestyles, and the features of perception. There is a huge difference between American and Japanese target audiences, for example.
  3. Research the best UX practices from your niche. As we’ve stated, you shouldn’t hesitate to analyze the approaches already implemented by your competitors. Use them as a springboard for your ideas.
  4. Suggest the first prototype. Getting the first insights and following LEAN methodology, you should come up with the first prototype of your future solution.
  5. Test it with your users. Now, it’s time to test it with the help of surveys, observation, eye tracking, The First Click, and A/B testing.
  6. Ask them to share their feedback. Don’t forget to ask your users to share their impressions and listen to them very attentively. 
  7. Suggest the improved prototype. Improve the prototype you already have taking the firsthand users’ insights into account. 
  8. Repeat. 

Conclusion

Researching user experience is a fairly interesting and significant process. However, this task may be quite challenging, especially if you are going to enter an unknown market. 

In this case, it makes sense to have an experienced UX researcher and strategist nearby. Mentalstack has these specialists on board ready to discover the data-driven and user-shared insights for your project.

Drop us a line to discuss more ways to make your product better! 

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