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Research benefits for UX projects

24 September, 2018

Research for UX projects

Research through UX projects it’s not only about testing with users. Accurate and systematic investigation through the design process is a huge source of key Insights.

I want to share my position about the value of doing a cross-cutting research through all the UX design process. Aiming that anyone that will read this, would be able to understand and think about the value of using systematic research through the whole UX project. From CEO’s to managers and team leaders. Because it’s not only about the amount of great benefits it will provide but also about the significant investment involved.

Let’s start from the beginning. What does research mean? Research is a process aiming to gather information and improve our knowledge by answering questions about unknown things.

Research is a cross-cutting task through the whole design process. It should take place before, during and after the design and development process in order to build a successful project.

We use systematic research in all our projects at Redbility by adapting techniques according to the project needs (you can check the tools we usually work with in our latest post Research is cool but, what tools should I work with?” ES). Should we adapt research to every project? In my humble opinion we should. Being able to figure out the real needs of a project is key as a designer. Allowing us to define a custom research that will lead into a better and faster design process.

To really understand my position about Research we must talk in economic terms first. If in an early stage of the process I notice any errors, problems or new opportunities through my research, the economic impact needed to solve them would be lower than once the product or service released. So I can stand out saying that Research it’s not only a must in the design process, it’s also an investment that we should do in order to build outstanding and meaningful products and services.

Research must be done through the whole design process

Knowing and understanding Users, the context of use and the business needs is key to build hi-quality projects covering the client’s and user’s expectations and needs. Research in UX projects must be systematic to achieve a better understanding of the problems we are facing and the needs we are going to solve. Leading on better and more valuable solutions.

The idea of cross-cutting research through the whole process is quite a standard nowadays in the industry. Perhaps it’s important to highlight that the return on investment will be considerably higher if we drive the research through all the design process in a systematic way.

How could you design an online gambling web if there is no gambling specialist / user in your team? How would you design a Wine e-shop if your team only drinks beer?

You will find the answer through the “before” research by exploring and getting information about the context and the customer of the service we are working on. In addition we must interact with the main stakeholders of the project as they’re the ones who know better the business we are designing for.

There is always a lack of information when we start working in a project and we must solve these client challenges, user and business needs, and the goals we are aiming to achieve in order to build a successful project.

  • Who are the users ?
  • Which are the tasks and goals ?
  • And their experience level ?
  • Which information do they really need ?
  • What they would expect from the product or service ?
  • What is the best target for the product/service?
  • How can we reach a higher market relevance by extending the target range?
  • What would be the range of embracement of the product once it’ll be release?
  • How can we increase the product/service benefits ?

To answer these questions among others, we must find all the information we need to be able to explore and analyze: the user’s behavior, the competitive context, strengths and weaknesses, business opportunities, user’s needs, business needs and the context and digital limitations.

Once this first research step finished, we should have enough information that will help us to start building a successful product or service. But we should have in mind that at this point we will be working with assumptions that are the result of our research and analysis work.

Metrics, benchmarking, empathy maps, personas, customer journey, online survey, market review, canvas, ideation, co-creation, workshops or focus group, are some of the techniques that are used through the first research step.

How can I improve an investment fund’s financial contribution if anyone on the team has experience on the financial field? How could we ensure that we are using the right product taxonomy in a baby retail e-shop, if anyone on the team has kids?

Once we went through this first step, we should start planing and kicking-off our design process. A second research step will start then. During the next steps of the design process we’ll drive a research with real users by studying their behavior and feelings. This will enable us to validate or reject our hypothesis and define new user needs.

investigación en proyectos ux

The result of this second research would be the Insights that will help our client to made decisions that will drive the project development.

In-depth interviews, polls, online quiz, cardsorting, tree testing, user testing, perception tests, concept tests, co-creation or rite, are some of the techniques that we use during this second research step.

I already release my product, are the real users acting as we guessed? Did we kept in mind all the scenarios? Could we still improving our product or service?

Once the product is released we should start the third research step. The one we do after the design process, an ongoing improvement made by the research and development teams. Working with data from real user experiences by testing the product, make us able to analyze them in order to improve different scenarios. Now we’re working with 100% real data and real users, being able to solve problems found after the product release.

Some of UX projects Research benefits

We can roughly say that successful UX projects should include a cross-cutting and systematic research through all the design and development process in order to build outstanding, efficient and meaningful solutions. Saving us from future investments to eventually solve problems after the product launch.

An important fact our clients should have in mind before rejecting the idea of including Research into the project, is the great amount of benefits that will be generated by doing it:

  • It will give us solid arguments to support our proposals.
  • A user experience improvement from a business and user point of view.
  • A company inner process ease.
  • Set up a clear return on investment relationship.
  • Prevent mistakes by reducing the amount of iterations with solid arguing.
  • Vanish stakeholders disputes using research data and insights instead of subjective arguments.
  • Shorten the development cycle
  • Enhance conversion
  • Reduce the economic investment

Summary

We can summarize this article with a positive forward thinking attitude by saying that the benefits of research for UX projects, is somehow becoming a trend building meaningful user experiences. Leading on a higher degree of approval when it comes to include systematic research through the whole design process in a product/service design project.

Companies are looking beyond great products. They want to know about users, scenarios, the interaction they may have with the product, their needs and expectations, the technological barriers or the business needs. Aiming to avoid expending money by solving problems once the product or service released.

We must empathize, minimize failures, build memorable user experiences or achieve our client goals by putting ourselves into the user’s shoes. Investing on a cross-cutting research is a safe bet to build a successful project. I can guarantee that.

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PMO Manager

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