The answer is USERS. You need user research towards your users.
Far too frequently, companies contact agencies like TMO Group in a panic to help them figure out why their new website or new phone app is failing. To the companies, the fact seems shocking since they have spent so much time and money on this project to make it look good. Company has adapted UI design or UX design, but it turns out that customers do not like it at all. Wondering why? Mostly, you didn’t conduct your user research before the actual UI design or UX design. Or maybe you haven’t ever heard the term “user research” before.
An affinity diagram of user research data
What is User Research?
Designing without research is like getting into a taxi and just saying, “Drive.”
By definition, User research is an iterative, cyclical process in which observation identifies a problem space for which solutions are proposed. Doing user research means building websites based on what visitors want rather than on what we assume they want. As employees, directors and designers, we tend to think of ourselves as primary users of our site when actually we’re not the target users at all. If you don’t do research and a product fails, you have no idea where the problem lies. If you conduct user research, it will result in a more delightful product for your users — a product that will be used and loved.
User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. Mike Kuniaysky further notes that it is “the process of understanding the impact of design on an audience.”
The types of user research you can or should perform will depend on the type of site, system or app you are developing, your timeline, and your environment.
How does User Research work?
Users base their decisions on whether to engage with a site based on questions like, “Does it have value to me? Is it easy to use? Am I delighted by the experience?” A good user experience leaves users answering ‘yes’ to all of these questions.
There are five distinct steps, which you go through when gathering information from people to fill a gap in your knowledge.
These are the questions we are trying to answer. What do we need to know at this point in the design process? What are the knowledge gaps we need to fill?
These are what we believe we already know. What are our team’s assumptions? What do we think we understand about our users, in terms of both their behaviors and our potential solutions to their needs?
These address how we plan to fill the gaps in our knowledge. Based on the time and people available, what methods should we select? Once you’ve answered the questions above and factored them into a one-page research plan that you can present to stakeholders, you can start gathering the knowledge you need through the selected research methods:
Gather data through the methods we’ve selected.
Answer our research questions, and prove or disprove our hypotheses. Make sense of the data we’ve gathered to discover what opportunities and implications exist for our design efforts.
Why is User Research so important?
User research is the most essential part of the User experience (UX) design process. If you do not have a clear idea of who your target user is and what they want (or need); it is nearly impossible to provide them with the right user experience.
Plus, a well-conducted user research can reduce wasted development time, decrease the cost of customer support, increase conversion rates and improve customer retention and loyalty. Above all, it saves your money and generates revenue.
User experience (UX) cannot exist without users. Creating user interfaces involves intricate and complex decisions. User research is a tool that can help you achieve your goals.
Even the most well thought out designs are assumptions until they are tested by real users. Different types of research can answer different types of questions. Know the tools and apply them accordingly. Leaving the user out is not an option.
To summarize this article in one line:
UX – U = X
(where “X” now means “don’t do it”).