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Have you ever wondered why some products like Airbnb, Netflix, Uber, and the likes, became the giants that they are? What is the secret piece that worked for them that somehow many others lack? That missing piece is no magic. It took vision and a true sense of judgment along with research for implementing that which is non-negotiable.
The idea of a user-centered product is a focal point across a variety of industries today. Companies are seeing benefits in placing their users at the start of their design decisions. In an industry devoted to the people who use our products, services, and applications, research is paramount.
Start-ups especially have always been tight-strapped for money, and more often than not they shy away from investing in user research with the impression that it’ll cost the big bucks. But, if truth be told, user research can save a lot of time, money, and effort and bring the brand closer to success sooner. If there was one principle that startups today should swear by, it would be “People ignore design that ignores people”
In this article, we’ll observe the many factors that contribute to User research, why companies don’t indulge in it, why they should and how it can help them a great deal.
What is UX Research?
In simple terms, UX Research is studying and evaluating the target audience. Understanding their behavioral patterns, experience, interaction, and emotion towards your product and the mindset they come with when using the product.
According to a recent study, India sees about 50,000 new start-ups every year. An average of 2–3 start-ups is born every day, and yet India sees only a 10% success rate. While one may or may not be aware of problems that lead to that, one thing start-ups can assess is the Users’ experience. If the user successfully uses the product, which enhances the users’ life, naturally, there will be a rise in the demand for such products, hence making it highly unlikely that the product or brand will fail.
So, if that’s the case, why do start-ups shy away from UX research?
Or, what are the myths of UX Research that fog the minds of new entrepreneurs today? And how it causes more harm than good.
1. UX Research is exorbitant
The common mindset is that Research is expensive and time-consuming. Whereas, research and user study is an effective way of reducing costs.
2. I know my users very well
The exercise of creating personas and scenarios sometimes isn’t enough because no matter how much we feel we know our users, several factors affect the users daily that change them. The way they interact with a product evolves along with their growth. One cannot completely know their users without testing how they react to the product in front of them with their various emotions and other factors both internal and external.
Most people have a notion that research is a time-consuming exercise. But, if a product is tested before it goes public, the time and money you spend are far less than if you do it in the future. Users get a much more refined product to interact with and that saves time, money & reputation.
Realizing this mindset and attempting to bring change can greatly help the brand. We ask questions, take notes and learn everything we can about our audience. Post this, we need to iteratively test our work throughout the design process.
Here are a few areas where UX Research saves the show:
1. Deep understanding of our users
Whatever we create or build, it sells when the users use it effectively, and it can only come from an in-depth understanding of their behaviors, habits, needs, pains, etc. And for this, we need to engage in qualitative research. Not investing in this exercise can lead to misunderstanding your user group and in turn providing a product that doesn’t resonate with your real audience.
2. Validate your assumptions and analysis
After the desk research phase, we arrive at different personas and scenarios that help us humanize our imagination. UX research comes in further after this stage where even the personas are validated by seeing real people in action. When you see your users using your product in real circumstances given all possible situations there could be, you can view the impact of your product.
3. Seeing our users in action
Once we have the product, having the users use it and interact with it helps us learn how they are reacting to it. It is a meeting point of what we know vs what is happening. This allows us to make necessary amends early on that can help save cost and time. Skipping this part of the process can lead to many reworks and also endangers the credibility of the product as well as the brand.
Knowing what comes next makes us either take precautionary steps or be prepared for it. The same happens when UX research is exercised. Seeing users in action, testing products, and validating personas makes us save up on all avoidable costs that we can’t predict.
UX Research doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. It can be budgeted when well planned with clear goals.
Top 5 inexpensive but effective ways to conduct UX Research:
1. Desk Research
The most inexpensive way to conduct research is Desk Research. With tons of articles and data available on the internet today, the world is at your fingertips.
Not only will you have your understanding of data, but you will also find research and data conducted by similar players in the market.
2. Usability Testing
As the name suggests, usability testing is self-explanatory. Having users test your product and observing how they interact with and react to it, is a way to analyze whether your product is creating the result you imagined it will. This exercise makes you see your product from the eyes of the user.
3. Guerilla Testing
Sometimes hiring a lab designated for research can turn out to be pricey. Instead, going to cafes or parks and having your product tested by strangers or even family, can result in efficient results too. You can also test prototypes and assess the interaction of the users before the final product.
Another great, inexpensive way to gather information and understand the needs and wants of people. Creating questionnaires, even detailed and sending them out to hundreds and thousands of people if possible can prove to be an effective form of research. This particular method branches under quantitative research methods.
5. A/B Testing
Giving users 2 options when you’re not sure which one will work best for them helps decide as you see them interact with both. Created for the users, tested by the users, and chosen by the users is not heavy on the pocket option for conducting UX research.
All in all, it is safe to say that UX research makes us understand our users better and thus this is one of the most necessary steps that cannot be discounted. It provides insights to be implemented into the design & experience making the design meaningful & engaging. Also, it can save money and time well in advance to create successful products for our users.
Written by Harshi Shah, Associate UX Designer at Lollypop Design Studio
Benefits of UX Research & Why Startups Are Afraid to Invest In It was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.