User research is studying target users and understanding their needs in a context. This helps to bring insights to the design process.
UX designer, UX writer, Design researcher, Product manager
User research is typically conducted during the early stages of a project, before the design and development phase starts.
User research is a critical part of designing successful products and services. It involves studying and understanding the needs, behaviors, and attitudes of users in order to create products that meet their needs and expectations. Here are some basics to get you started on user research:
Define your research goals: Before starting any user research, it's important to define what you want to learn from the research. This could be anything from understanding user needs and behaviors to identifying pain points and areas for improvement.
Identify your target users: Knowing who your target users are is crucial to conducting effective user research. You need to identify your target users' characteristics such as their demographics, behaviors, needs, goals, and motivations.
Choose the right research methods: There are various methods of user research, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, usability testing, and ethnographic studies. You need to choose the appropriate method(s) based on your research goals, target users, and budget.
Recruit participants: Once you've chosen your research methods, you need to find and recruit participants who match your target user profile.
Conduct research: Conducting the research involves collecting and analyzing data through the chosen research methods. This may involve asking participants questions, observing their behavior, or testing your product with them.
Analyze data: Once you have collected your data, you need to analyze it to identify patterns, insights, and opportunities for improvement.
Communicate findings: Communicating your research findings to stakeholders is crucial to making informed decisions about product design and development. You need to present your findings in a clear, concise, and actionable way.
Iterate and refine: User research should be an ongoing process that informs product design and development. Use the insights from your research to make iterative improvements to your product or service.
Who is conducting it?
Primary Research - Primary research is the research conducted by self. E.g. Identifying target personas for a product or service.
Secondary Research - Secondary research is done by referring to reports, studies, publications, or various other media available online.
Exploratory Research - It’s conducted to generate ideas for creating or improving a design. E.g. To discover user needs for a future product line.
Evaluative Research - It’s conducted to evaluate an existing design to evaluate its suitability for the users. E.g. Finding out how usable an existing product is.
What is derived?
Quantitative Research - In this type of research, data patterns are identified based on users’ interactions. The data here is all numeric or objective data.
When usage data is available for a product in use, it can be used for further analysis and improvement of the product. E.g. Finding out which features are most used or least used in a product.
Qualitative Research - In this research, an investigation is done to find out reasons behind usage patterns or to understand users’ mental models, opinions, pain points, motivations, etc.
To answer ‘Why’, certain behaviors are observed, this type of research is most effective.
E.g. Identify why users are dropping off at the last screen after going through the lengthy flow.
How is it conducted?
Attitudinal Research - In this research, researchers listen to what participants are saying.
Behavioral Research - In this research, researchers observe what participants are saying.
Some of the most popular research methods are:
User Interview: Guided conversations to understand users responses, behavior, and preferences
Usability Testing: Observing users while they perform specific tasks
Focus Group: Discussion within a small group of people focused on a product/ service/ feature or experience
A/B Testing: Comparing 2 versions of a design to understand, which works better
Diary Study: User record their experiences with a product for a long period of time at a set frequency
Card Sorting: Technique to understand how people categorize information
Survey: Collecting responses for same questions from a large number of users to derive patterns of responses
Observation: Researchers observe the user doing the set of activities in a certain context
There are many more research methods used as per the need of a project.
Curious about when to use which research method? Check out Conducting Research and Capturing Actionable Insights
How to Create a User Research Plan from UserInterviews
User Interview Launch Kit from User Interviews
Writing an Effective Guide for a UX Interview from NNGroup
User Interview Template from Xtensio
Contributed User Research Report Template from Figma Community
For Preparation & Planning
For Usability Testing
For Conducting Surveys
For Research Synthesis
How to Conduct User Experience Research Like a Professional from CareerFoundry
User Research from IxDF
UX Research Cheat Sheet from NNGroup
When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods from NNGroup
UX Research Brief Template from Milanote
UX Research Plan Template from Miro
Usability Testing Session Template from Asana
User Testing Synthesis from Trello
Research Iteration Management from Trello
How to create a Research Plan?
How to conduct a survey?
How to conduct secondary research?
How to conduct stakeholder interviews?
How to conduct usability tests?