Hi! I’m Mark. I’m a UX designer at Fulcrum. Today I’m here to tell you all about UX research. The main goal of UX research is to detect the project’s (a website or an app) pain points and check if it was possible to improve its conversion.

Best way to know your users and design the best possible solution. Evidence-based argumentation of the adopted design decisions that include all methods and sources analysis.

What did our UX research usually include?

Read on to find out what results and conclusions of each UX research we've made here at Fulcrum.

UX research report.

UX Research Methods

There are two types of UX research. There’s quantitative research that refers to statistical data that can be gathered in various ways. And qualitative research which implies gathering insights that can not be computed. Observations, thoughts, feelings, comments, the things that answer the question “Why?”.

The methods used for each UX research depend on the project and the research goals. Though usually quantitative and qualitative methods are combined.

Here at Fulcrum, we used the following research methods:

  • Expert UX audit. This is an in-depth analysis of the website based on the expert’s experience and usability rules.
  • Interviews with employees to find the project’s issues which employees dealing with.
  • User interviews. Done to analyse the project’s issues with the help of the customers themselves. Finding out their pains, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Usability testing without the expert’s intervention. It is held in order to check the hypotheses singled out with the previous methods.

Here’s  an example of the detailed UX research plan for one of Fulcrum's projects:

Here’s  an example of the detailed UX research plan for one of Fulcrum's projects.

Website UX Audit

Here’s how this stage looks like:

The first stage of UX audit is check the website against the usability heuristics.

Jakob Nielsen is a renowned web usability expert and human-computer interaction researcher. In 1994 he outlined 10 comprehensive principles of interaction design. We refer to these principles as “heuristics”. Because they are not specific guidelines for usability, but general rules of thumb. You can read more on the heuristics here.

usability heuristics by Jakob Nielsen.

What we do at this stage is analyze the website/app. Its fields and forms, login and registration, mobile UX, visual design, typography, error prevention. We create a list of specific and detailed recommendations to fix the UX issues we found for each category we checked. These fixes will improve the website’s conversion.

Finally, we analyzed the project against the 4 basic principles of design:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

The result of the work done will look like this (on the example of one of our finished projects):

                                   
Category Number of issuesPriority Analysis level Comments
Fields and forms 9 high advanced User experience can be improved
Log in 2 middle advanced Login itself is good. But there’s one major issue - it’s unclear how to register if you don’t have an account to log into.
Registration  1 low advanced Registration is ok. The only major issue - fields have to be checked right away.
Mobile UX 8 high advanced Mobile version has to be remade.
Visual design 13 high advanced Huge amount of errors and shortcomings

In-depth Users & Employees Interview

Our next step is to take in-depth users & employees interviews. The UX research interview questions are designed to outline the users’ pain points and needs. After the interviews, we analyze the website in reference to those pains and needs.

In-depth Users & Employees Interviews for ux research.

Read more: Using In-depth Interviews to Build a Customer Journey Map

Employees
The main purpose of the employee interviews is to uncover the critical issues most users need help with.

After such interviews, you might find out that the sales manager  spend a lot of time answering the questions related to the website’s UX. This should lead to the conclusion that fixing the website’s UX issues will significantly lower the sale’s workload.

In fact, many more problems can be identified at this stage:

  • Users don’t notice the shipping rates. As a result a lot of them complain and cancel the purchase.
  • Users can’t find the returns and exchange policy on the website.
  • Users don’t understand the invitation promotion and its terms.
  • Users don’t understand the credits system.
  • Calls in the morning annoy customers a lot.
  • Recall annoys customers a lot.
  • Users don’t see where the registration is.
  • Users can’t leave testimonials.
  • Users don’t see how to apply a promo code.
  • etc.

Users
User interviews are a quick and easy way to get a sense of how users feel & think. Interviews help to find out the most critical issues, fixing which will significantly improve the user experience. Some insides after user interviews might look like:

  • The value of the loyalty program and credits is unclear.
  • Users can’t find out the order status.
  • Users don’t know the returns and exchange policy.
  • Users don’t understand how to apply a promo code.
  • Checkout issues.

Usability Testing

The last step of our UX research process is usability testing. It is a technique of evaluating a product by testing it with actual users.

After fixing the errors and design flaws found in the previous stages of our UX research, we usually apply the new design. And test it.

It's not a bad idea to talk to new project users who never use the website. And customers who do it regularly. The testing helps us check the hypotheses we formed previously. As well as gain valuable insights and finalize the research findings.

Read more: The Ins and Outs of Usability Testing Explained by UX Designer from Fulcrum Rocks

UX Research Results

The qualitative UX research helps us find the critical issues with the basic customer needs.

But the most important result of every UX research is the detailed design task based on meaningful empirical data. No guesswork.

The next steps we recommend to our clients are:

  • Fix the issues from the final report ASAP.
  • Start analysing the effect of the changes on the KPIs.

The UX research usually uncovers a “grey area” - the points of contact with the user:

  • the absence of necessary scripts for the sales department;
  • issues with the Facebook bot;
  • issues with newsletters, etc.

These things hurt the KPIs. All of these instruments can be used much more effectively. Not only do they affect the income, but customer loyalty and user retention can be improved as well.

Final Words:

As you can see UX research is very useful. You might think you know your customers and how they use your website. But the truth can surprise you. UX research provides an opportunity to satisfy the users and help them where they truly need help. Without the guesswork you can focus on the things that actually matter and stop spending your resources on the things that don’t.

Interested in UX research? Fulcrum Rocks is ready to help!

Software Development Methodology

FAQ: UX research

What is UX research?

UX research is an assortment of investigative methods combined together. The goal of this research is to provide insight and context to the design from the perspective of the end user.

Why UX research is important?

UX research helps back the design strategy with proved data. This in turn helps the designers create better products for end users.

How to get into UX research?