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How to conduct user research?

User research is studying target users and understanding their needs in a context. This helps to bring insights to the design process.

Duration

Typically, the time required to conduct user research is 1-3 weeks, but may vary depending on the research goals, methods, scope, and available resources.

Complexity

Advanced

Contributors

UX designer, UX writer, Design researcher, Product manager

When?

User research is typically conducted during the early stages of a project, before the design and development phase starts.


Getting Started

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:


Types of User Research

Basis

Type 1

Type 1

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.

Outcome

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.

 


User Research Methods

Some of the most popular research methods are:

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 


Do’s & Don'ts

Do’s

Dont’s

  1. Be clear on the intent

  2. Get the right participants

  3. Be well prepared

  4. Communicate clearly and be courteous

  5. Let the questions be in a logical order

  6. Make users feel comfortable and build rapport

  7. Do a dry run with the planned script before actual research starts

  8. Have a plan considering few participants could drop off last minute

  9. Be aware of logistic and limitations

  1. Don’t overwhelm

  2. Don’t be biased

  3. Don’t prompt the users

  4. Don’t interrupt users during the activity

  5. Don’t talk more than the participants

  6. Don’t forget to take notes or record the sessions

  7. Don’t recruit similar participants

  8. Don’t forget debriefing after each session

 


Templates 

Suggested Tools 

For Preparation & Planning

For Usability Testing

For Conducting Surveys

For Research Synthesis


References 

Other Related Best Practices