Dec 3, 2020

When & which UX Research method to use?

We guide you through the product development cycle and show you which UXR methods to apply in each stage.

Can you imagine you invest a lot of money into high-quality coffee processing equipment, finalize your cafe’s interior design and open the coffee shop’s doors but you don’t check the market’s needs, your competitors and, pricing? No matter how much you are into risk-taking, before investing, it is smart to find out the market potential. To get more opinions, you can invite your friends and acquaintances to check out the premises of the potential coffee place. You collect ideas, find inspiration, identify opportunities, and explore the needs of potential customers. From the UX perspective in this phase of product and service development, your goal is to understand your potential customers and identify business opportunities.

Continuing with the cafe example, it might be that at first you are not fully sure how the business will kick off and you keep the cafe open for a few days a week only. You want to see how it goes. So what you do, is that you test your prototype. Once you think you are ready to serve customers 7 days a week, you’re in the implementation phase now, it does not mean that you are done. To compete with the coffee shop around the corner, you want to offer your customers the experiences that would make them return. You constantly collect feedback: You reflect upon your activities and listen to what customers have to say to you.

In each phase of product and service development, a UX researcher has a wide range of research methods to choose from. The choice depends much on available resources, both time and money, but most importantly, on the goals, the research needs to fulfill. For example, quantitative research methods such as surveys help to find answers to questions ‘how much/how many’ whereas qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews and usability testings help to find answers to why- and how questions.

In-depth interviews uncover people’s attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.

The choice of methods also depends on whether you want to understand users’/customers’ behavior or know their attitudes, opinions, and beliefs. For example, in we use surveys or interviews to uncover the latter whereas observations or A/B testings give us information about travelers’ behavior. It is crucial to remember the quote, often attributed to anthropologist Margaret Mead, stating that: “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

Thirdly, you need to understand the importance of context. Is it sufficient to study product usage in a controlled testing environment or do we need to go to a real-life environment and see how the users interact with the product there? For example in, if we want to test how our customers are booking their tickets, we could do this in a testing environment, using a pre-set remote usability study. But if we want to see how our travelers use boarding passes, we definitely need to go to the airports and observe how they actually go through the whole process at the airport.

In the visualization below, we describe a simplified product development cycle we use in As you can see, there is a wide range of UX Research methods, which can be helpful in each step.

In each step of product development cycle certain UX Research methods can be applied.

It’s not always easy to choose the right method and sometimes you need to use more than one of them to answer your research question. However, once you decide to conduct research, it’s already better than no research at all.

Which UX Research methods have you tried out? Let us know!

In the next post, we will write about why you need UX Research in your project and how to start with it. Stay tuned ????

This post is co-authored by the wonderful colleague Zaneta Kucarova, UX Researcher.

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