User Experience Research is all about studying how real people use things like websites, applications, or products. The goal is to find out what works well and what does not, so we can make them better.
Researchers ask questions, observe users, and collect data to figure out how to create things that are easy to use, enjoyable, and meet the users' needs.
In this talk, you'll learn how to apply the various research methods in identifying valuable insights to inform your design decisions and improve the overall user experience.
UX Research Methods
● UX Designer at Blaccess.
● UX Research Mentor.
● Building Pink Summer of Tech, She
Code Africa and Friends of Figma.
Introduction to UX Research
User Experience (UX) is more than following a collection of rules and
heuristics in the product design process. As the name suggests, it is subjective—
the experience that a person goes through while using a product. Therefore, it is
necessary to understand the needs and goals of potential users, their tasks, and
context, which are unique for each product.
What is user experience?
"User experience research is all about studying how real people use things like websites, apps, or products.
The goal is to find out what works well and what doesn't, so we can make them better. Researchers ask
questions, observe users, and collect data to figure out how to create things that are easy to use, enjoyable,
and meet the users' needs.
"In essence, UX research helps designers and developers create user-friendly and effective solutions by
gaining insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points. It's like detective work to ensure that
what's being built truly serves the people who will use it.
What is user experience research?
A user experience researcher leverages quantitative and qualitative research
methodologies to understand and optimize a product’s usability.
A user researcher removes the need for false assumptions and guesswork by using
observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies to
understand a user’s motivation, behavior, and needs.
What does a user experience researcher do?
User-Centered Design? Key Principles:
UCD is an approach to product and
service development that priotizes
the needs and preferences of the
end-users at every stage
• User involvement - Actively engages users
throughout the design process.
• Empathy - Understands users' goals, tasks, and
• Iterative - Continuously refines designs based
on user feedback.
• Usability - Strives for products that are easy to
learn and use.
• Accessibilty - Ensures inclusivity for all users,
regardless of abilities.
Importance of UX research in product design
• User-centered design:
UX Research ensures your product is built with the user's needs and
preferences in mind.
• Enhanced usability:
It helps create products that are easy to use, reducing frustration and
• Identifying problems:
UX Research uncovers issues early, saving time and resources in the
• Optimizing features:
It helps prioritize and refine features to deliver what users truly value
• Competitive edge: Better user experiences lead to loyal
customers and a competitive advantage.
Some of the results generated through UX research confirm that improving the
usability of a site or app will:
• Increase sign-ups
• Increase customer satisfaction
• Boost loyalty to the brand
Additionally, and aside from benefiting the overall user experience, the integration
of UX research into the development process can:
• Minimize development time
• Reduce production costs
• Uncover valuable insights about your audience
• Give an in-depth view into users’ mental models, pain points, and goals
Conducting useful user experience research doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of
time. By utilizing the power of digital tools, inexpensive research methods, and close
observation of customer interactions, a business can get the raw data and insights it needs to
improve the user experience for its audience without breaking the budget.
Steps in conducting user research:
• Define a focused research plan
• Recruit participants
• Employ one of the many user research methods
• Collect data and simplify the findings
• Distill research findings into an action plan for UX
Types of UX Research
Primary Research: Secondary Research:
Original research that is completed by you or your
design team. Primary research typically takes
place after secondary research has helped shed
light on why the problem exists and what’s been
done to address it in the past.
The tasks performed and insights gained during
primary research relate back to the design problem
you are attempting to solve.
Any research that was done by someone else, and
it’s a great way for designers to familiarize
themselves with the history of different design
The areas explored during secondary research
needn’t relate directly to the design problem.
Sometimes, seemingly unconnected topics can
bring clarity and innovation.
Quantitative Research: Qualitative Research:
(statistics: can be calculated and computed; focuses on numbers
and mathematical calculations) Quantitative research is primarily
exploratory research and is used to quantify the problem by way of
generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into
usable statistics e.g., the online surveys.
Ease of comparison, High precision, Highly Objective and hence
less researcher bias
Costly, Time consuming, Limited context (you may overlook
important factors by generalizing )
(insights: concerned with descriptions, which can be observed but
cannot be computed). Qualitative user research is a direct
assessment of behavior based on observation. It’s about
understanding people’s beliefs and practices on their terms, e.g.,
interviews and moderated usability studies.
In-depth understanding of motivation, attitude, behavior.
Helps researchers understand the ‘why’ behind user behaviors
Best for small-sized samples, Less expenses made during research
Prone to high researcher bias(different researchers may analyze
the same result differently) and time consuming
UX RESEARCH METHODS AND FRAMEWORKS
UX research methods are a long list of methods employed by user researcher, whose
central focus is the user and how they think, behave, their needs and motivations
Here are some examples of the types of user research performed at each phase of a project;
Card sorting involves participants being given an unsorted group
Each card has a statement on it relating to a page or section of the
website. The participants are then asked to sort the cards into groups
and name them.
A practical use of card sorting is to help determine how users
would classify and organize topics for a website or app.
The results of the card sort can then be used to construct an
information architecture that fits their needs and goals.
01. Card Sorting:
Guerrilla research is a low-cost research methodology that
usually involves conducting user research outside of the office
i.e., approaching potential users in places like bookstores and
To find the best data for your research, target the areas where
your particular audience likes to congregate. Go to places where
your audience will have the time to help you, like in a cafe, park,
or sports venue.
This type of user research can be fun and informative, and people
are usually happy to share their technological experiences with
professionals who are in a position to improve them.
Often, going up to people and asking for their time and opinion
on a product prototype in exchange for a coffee and a snack
works really well. At work, you can ask “regular folks” such as
non-designers, non-product people, and non-engineers to give
you feedback on a design.
02. Guerilla UX Research:
Focus groups are a moderated user experience research
discussion with a group of representative future users,
allowing you to learn about user attitudes, ideas, and
desires. Again, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Gather users
together in an informal setting to discuss your products and
You need to take your time and ensure your focus group
demographic is diverse. Prepare for the meeting, identify
key areas you would like to discuss, and make sure you
have adequate resources and background info so you can
answer any questions your group may direct back to you.
03. Focus Groups:
User interviews are one-on-one sessions that can be
conducted in a variety of ways. Users tend to give a lot of
clues during an interview, such as making verbal side-
comments, or non-verbal gestures.
These observations can give insights into how users are
truly feeling and thinking and it’s important the researcher
do more listening than talking, record qualitative feedback,
observe, and avoid leading questions.
User interviews can be challenging to schedule, and many
UX researchers lose participants due to scheduling conflicts.
Luckily, nowadays we can use online tools like Google Meet
or Zoom which dramatically reduces the time it takes to
organize multiple in-person interviews.
Remote interviews won’t give you the volume of data that
other types of user research methods will, but they can be
useful in terms of uncovering major usability issues and
analyzing various reactions to them.
04. User Interviews:
A Persona is a representative user based on available data and user
interviews. Though the personal details of the persona may be fictional,
the information used to create the user type is not.
Persona serves as a guide to better understand who the core users are and
what is going on in their minds. They are typically used when a designer
or researcher is seeking to address tasks that need to be performed, pain
points, how users feel, and what they are trying to achieve.
For example, if we have a persona attribute that signals
“impatient/busy/always in a hurry,” we can make certain design
decisions which enable this user to take shortcuts within the
product and thus save them time.
Another use of personas is getting everyone (product, engineering,
marketing, sales, and customer service) on the same page about
who the users are, thereby facilitating a more unified user
Surveys are scalable, inexpensive, and a quick way to collect specific
information from hundreds of users who fit the personas we defined early
on in the research process. Closed questions provide users with a fixed set
of responses (i.e., yes/no, multiple choice, numerical scale, etc.),
whereas open questions allow users to answer however they’d like.
Surveys are easy and less costly, and while surveys are certainly a great
tool, they shouldn’t be used exclusively (i.e., combine Surveys with other
06. Surveys: A significant amount of time should be dedicated to preparing surveys, and
ultimately analyzing the findings in order to eliminate inappropriate
Also, it is critical to develop a set of well-thought-out screener questions
and to properly analyze the data once it is collected. There are a variety of
awesome online survey tools available e.g., Typeform and Google Forms.
N/B: You have to be aware that many users disregard surveys, so don’t
expect a huge response rate.
Usability testing identifies user frustrations and problems with a site
through one-on-one sessions where a “real-life” user performs tasks
on the site being studied.
During a usability test, users’ complete tasks while the UX
researcher observes and takes notes.
Incentives are often offered to users, but some UX researchers
believe this adds a strong element of bias to the test. (Because
sometimes, the uses might feel like yeah, she’s going to give us
something so we should give her the answers she wants)
Usability testing doesn’t have to be an elaborate and expensive
endeavor involving usability labs with many participants.
Especially in the case of startups and MVPs, testing with just
five people will allow you to find almost as many usability
problems as you actually need.
07. Usability Testing:
When there is a need to test designs variations in order to find
the most effective one, A/B testing is applied. A/B testing is
used primarily for conversion optimization, but it can also be
used as a quantitative UX research method.
Users are presented with two different versions of a design, and
they pick which one they prefer; this also works to determine
which features a user finds most useful, such as a button vs. a
UX designers will take this data and refine it to eliminate design
flaws or use the pros and cons gotten to make a new hybrid
design for another round of user testing.
08. A/B Testing:
If you are working on a tight budget, use free tools like Google Analytics
as a starting point for the collection of quantitative data.
Alternatively, another almost free or low-cost tool such as Hotjar is also
available for collecting specific product insights from users. The free
Hotjar Basic has heatmaps—representing user’s clicks, taps, and scrolling
behavior visually; recordings—watch real visitors on your site as they
click, tap, move their cursor and navigate across pages.
Analytics tools usually answer questions like:
• How long does it take for users to complete a task?
• Where do they click? (Heatmaps and click-streams)
• How far do they scroll on pages? (Scroll maps)
• What features are most popular?
• What paths do people usually take?
• When do they leave? (Bounce rates)
Use Cases, Parallel Design, Prototyping, First Click Testing, System Usability Scale, Task Analysis,
etc. are other User Experience research methods that can also be applied in the user experience and
• SurveyMonkey - Online survey and questionnaire tool.
• Miro – Collaboration and a whiteboard tool
• Hotjar – Website behavior and analysis and also for data feedback
• Airtable – Collaboration and also a spreadsheet tool
• Figma – for collaboration and also prototyping
• Google Analytics – to track user behavior and website performance
Common UX Research Tools:
Report and Documentation
Common Challenges in UX Research
• Participant Recruitment; finding the right participants for the research
• Unconscious bias; maybe from personal convictions or stereotypes
• Remote Research; some might not be comfortable nor know how to use remote tools
• Data Analysis; managing large data and translating findings into actionable insights
• Stakeholder Buy-In; Convince and communicate your findings in a compelling way
• Evolving Technologies; Keeping up with the rapidly changing tech landscape and ensuring your research remains relevant.
• Ethical Concerns; respect users privacy and consent. Do not force them
• Iterative Process; UX research is an ongoing process, brace yourself and don’t give up quickly
• Time Constraints; Balancing the need for thorough research with project timelines.
• Understand your audience and tailor your report to their needs and interests.
• Define your research goals and what you aim to achieve with the report.
• Organize your report logically.
• Use visuals (charts, graphs, infographics) to make data engaging.
• Craft a narrative that walks the reader through the research journey,
• Include user quotes to add depth and humanity to your findings.
• Use Plain Language and avoid jargon
• Be concise and to the point
• Proofread for errors.
• Include an executive summary for quick insights.
• Seek feedback from peers i.e. Peer-reviews
Creating an Effective UX Research Report:
User research is at the core of every exceptional user experience. As the name suggests, UX is
subjective—the experience that a person goes through while using a product. Therefore, it is necessary to
understand the needs and goals of potential users, the context, and their tasks which are unique for each
product. By selecting appropriate UX research methods and applying them rigorously, designers can shape
a product’s design and can come up with products that serve both customers and businesses more
Thanks for Listening!