The following Insights post is contributed by Paige Bennett – Senior UX Research Manager at Weight Watchers and expert JPK Group Presenter.
When you think of User Experience (UX) Research, what comes to mind? User research is a hot buzz word in tech right now. People know it’s supposed to provide insights, a “secret sauce” some startups have sworn by, but they’re not so sure about much more than that. How will it fit into their company? Does UX Research replace traditional Market Research? What if you have zero budget and no resources? And, the question I get asked often: Is UX Research really essential? Well, yes. And here’s why.
As accomplished researcher Susan Dray said, “If the user can’t use it, then it doesn’t work at all.” It doesn’t matter if you know how to use your product. If it doesn’t meet your users’ needs and goals (or if does but the journey to success is painful), then you have a problem.
UX Research is intended to help you create the best product for your users. Good UX Research can help you:
- Observe your users’ behaviors, needs, motivations and goals.
- Identify the pain points and issues within your product as it relates to usability.
- Develop empathy and humility for your product.
With all of the great things UX Research can do, it’s thankfully not mysterious and complicated. It also doesn’t have to be super expensive. You can absolutely do it for free (here’s a great article on a technique that can be done on a zero budget).
So now that you’re convinced you can do UX Research, how exactly do you build a strategy? First, it’s important to note that UX Research does not replace Market Research. Instead, they should work hand in hand. Here’s an example of how that might look, using an example of building a car.
Market Research helps you answer the who and what, while UX Research helps you answer the why, how and how exactly.
Now that you understand how it can work within your company’s structure, let’s look at the next steps you’ll need to take.
Before you can build a strategy, you must:
- Identify your stakeholders
- What are you trying to answer?
- What do you know?
- What don’t you know?
- What are the needs, challenges and goals?
If you can’t answer the above questions, you’ll need to take a step back. These questions are the foundation to building a stellar strategy, so put time and effort into figuring them out.
Once you have answered these questions, you’re ready to look at what you’re going to research. Now, you can:
- Prioritize. Work with your product team to figure out what needs to be addressed now, soon, later and what you can place in your parking lot.
- Make sure to build in a discovery phase to address concepts and blue sky ideas.
- And, most importantly, share your plan with your stakeholders before you put it to action.
As you begin your research, there are three key items for you to remember:
- Test early and often (not only when your product is ready to launch).
- Rely on more than one data set.
- And always iterate, iterate, iterate!
You’re now ready to dive into the exciting, insightful world of UX Research. Congratulations! It’s going to be amazing.
Paige Bennett currently leads User Research for Weight Watchers/Wello. Paige began her career as a TV Journalist for ABC New Orleans. After leaving the newsroom, she moved abroad to Oman to conduct user research and content strategy throughout the Middle East. After Oman, she moved to Austin to work for Dell, where she led strategy for Dell’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, “Powering the Possible.” Paige moved to San Francisco in 2013 and has spent the past two years consulting for startups throughout the Bay Area.