Optimal UX thanks to user research
A product’s success on the market is largely dependent on the question whether it is able to fascinate the users. It is therefore worth the effort to get to know the users and to involve them in the development process. The key to success – user research. Our expert Jan is a member of the User Research work group of the German UPA and has contributed to a journal on the subject.
Various work groups are joined under the umbrella of the German UPA, the trade association of German usability and UX professionals. They support UX experts in the their work and are decisive in shaping the professional image of the UX industry – among them the User Research work group. User research is an indispensable part of user- and customer-oriented product development. In its journal, the work group aims at creating more awareness for and understanding of user research: What is user research actually? How can user research be employed for the development of successful products? And what does this mean in practice? The answers on these and many more questions can serve as a valuable guideline for the optimal use of user studies. We will tell you how to get the journal and what to expect from it. Let’s start with the basics …
What is user research?
User research is the link to the most important people in the product development cycle – the users. Qualified experts analyze the users’ goals, tasks, needs, problems and requirements. They draft concepts and prototypes and evaluate them with the users, employing the findings to derive information for the development of user-friendly products. This applies to the development of innovations or the improvement of existing products alike. User-centricity is achieved whenever user research has become a core part of the iterative design process. And this is when companies develop high-end, cost-efficient and successful products and services. And the best part is that they create positive experiences for the users – a phenomenon we call UX.
Hands-on advice for free
The journal has more for you than just basic know-how – it also includes practical tips.
Among them is a selection of key user research methods, including information on which ones to use when: A “focus group”, for example, is useful to evaluate existing ideas and concepts but it can also be used to uncover the users’ requirements. The focus group process takes about two to three hours.
Oftentimes, researchers are confronted with prejudice against their work. In the journal you can read up on ways to confront such statements. A common prejudice: “We have no resources for user research.” In fact, user research is a way to save resources since decisions are expedited by the use of empirical data and supporting arguments.
High-qualitative user research can also help to deal with antiquated thinking patterns. A high level of representativeness and efficiency are, among others, quality criteria for good user research. Usually, it is not very helpful to involve proxies instead of real users in user research activities. But sometimes, this can be just the right method – and it is the job of a competent researcher to decide what approach is the most efficient one. Any measures taken pay off when they are geared towards the context of the project and their boundaries are clearly communicated.
Ready, steady, go! User research is a way to gain first-hand experience – right from the people for whom you create your products.
Download the entire journal (in German) in pdf format from the website of the German UPA.