June 23, 2020   |   3min read

Website Design — How to Conduct User Research?

The fundamental aspect of the design is continuous contact with the people who will use a given product. First of all, it means the correct identification of a target group when creating a vision of the service. Secondly, continuous contact with potential users during the design process to verify whether a given website is usable and intuitive. These activities are called user research.

What is user research?

User research is a process of learning about people who will be the users of our application or a website. Observation, conversations, and test with the right people enable the creation of a product that the users will be eager to use because it satisfies their needs. Otherwise, we must recognize the risk that the project will be based on guesses regarding our target group’s needs, objectives, problems, behaviors, and skills. From our previous design article, you can learn more about the differences between UX and UI design.

Empathy—how to understand the user better?

On the product vision creation stage, you must identify the users’ needs and their attitudes towards your industry. An approach of seeking to “identify the needs” and not “creating needs” is especially important here. The second activity belongs to marketers. In design, we focus on solving problems that we know exist. The empathy stage boils down to interviews. The challenge is to find the right participants. The group needs to be diverse and inspiring, but still within the range of “the potential users”. Those can be persons who frequently use similar products and those who rarely do so. That way, we will learn what is bothering them with the competition. We will have the opportunity to address their concerns. Cultural, financial, demographic, ethnic, and gender diversity will help us create an inclusive product, tossing our biases aside.

Minimizing risk with usability tests

Usability tests performed at the design stage allow for identifying problems with the product before it is released or implemented. It’s a great way to cut costs—the creation of an interactive prototype that will enable testing is more time-effective than developing the solution. Designers can quickly introduce changes to the project at an early stage before the implementation.

User research methods

Depending on the stage of product development, the below methods could be applied:

  • In-depth interviews—a conversation based on a set of specific questions on the preferences and needs related to a given industry or product group indicated by interviewees.
  • Contextual inquiry—direct observation of how the users use the product, combined with an interview.
  • Usability tests—analyzing the way a test participant performs a specific set of tasks.
  • Card sorting—helps to learn what people think about specific notions and groups of notions, which translates to the ability to structure information on the website comprehensively.

User research step-by-step

What can you do to reach the users in the right way?

  • Invite a good group of participants.
  • Define the purpose of the research and write down the questions for the participants.
  • Choose a research method appropriate for the design process.
  • Conduct usability tests.
  • Summarize the research—analyze the notes and reach conclusions.

If you don’t know which research method will be best for your product, contact Utilo team—we will help you devise the design and research processes.

Marta Strzałkowska

Senior UX Designer

Agnieszka Czyżak

Creative Director

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