Two women talking about UX research

Why user experience research is more than just an optional extra

Katie Te Nahu Owen By Katie Te Nahu Owen

Steve Jobs said, “If the user is having a problem, it’s our problem.” That’s why user experience (UX) research is a vital step in software development. UX is about applying user research techniques to learn what your users need. It prioritises the people who will be using the product in your design process and your products, ensuring your judgment isn’t clouded by preconceptions. You use your findings to design or modify your service, product, or user interface, to give users a good experience. A poor user experience in a finished product can often put people off using a site or app.

UX research helps you learn what your users need and want

UX research tells us more about the users and how they’ll use the product. It provides the information we need to make strategy and design decisions, creating an optimised product. This in turn decreases the learning curve for end users by making the product simple to use.

You should always carry out research before creating the UX strategy, because it helps to check design assumptions.

A brief overview of our UX research process

At the start of the project, we host meetings and workshops to learn about your requirements and the needs and goals of the end users. During the design and strategy process, we prepare clickable prototypes to present to potential end users. We then: 

  • interview them about using the app and test our assumptions  
  • record their experiences with our prototype, such as whether they easily located the correct button to click on 
  • ask them to do several tasks, such as navigating to their account page

Next, we use the information from this interview to identify trends across users and update our prototypes accordingly.

You should customise your UX research to suit your needs

It’s usually best to do UX research early in the project. UX research contributes to the smooth development of a product or project by validating ideas early. It saves time and money by avoiding the need to re-design user flows and UX components. This means you can avoid any nasty surprises when the work has already gone too far. However, you can also use research to find out what’s going wrong in a project that’s experiencing issues. The research can be as broad or focused as you like.

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