In a recent webinar we discussed the importance of user research in the website design process and why, here at Coast Digital we see engaging users and building insight as essential. Within the webinar we spent time discussing some of the methods we employ to perform user research. The choice of which are based on the needs of the project, the insight required and access to the users. These methods can be blended or used independently, although we would advise using multiple methods to create a more reliable research piece.
4 Common Research Methods We Use
1. Website Data
Going through website analytics and other user behaviour software tools is a great way to build a good understanding of what users are doing on a website and how that might relate to the wider purchasing or customer journey. This activity provides a good level of quantitative data and often shapes initial understanding before embarking on the user research proper.
2. Surveys & Questionnaires
Building quantitative data is vital so that we can establish patterns in behaviour, wants and needs of users. Surveys gain a lot of insight with many different user groups quickly; through existing customer email data, targeted advertising campaigns (such as on Facebook) or even through pop-up polls on the website. All methods of engaging a user base are valid, it just depends which types of user you are trying to gain insight into and how best to access them.
3. Telephone Interviews
It’s not always possible to be face to face to respondents and this is where telephone interviews can be extremely useful. They also allow us to build qualitative data quickly and efficiently. Over the phone it is possible to really dig into user behaviours, needs and opinions, it is also great for finding out what really annoys people when they engage with an organisation or website, giving us things to avoid.
4. Face To face Interviews
These can give the added benefit of seeing the interviewees expressions as they explain, giving more detail into emotional reactions and motives. Face to face interviews can be carried out in user’s homes, laboratory settings, focus groups and even on the street. Sometimes we might mix interviewing with user testing, as it allows us to ask users to complete tasks, see how they progress and then interview them about their experiences after, which leads to a richer testing process.
As a minimum we would look to conduct a data review when embarking on a website project but we would always advise conducting some user research to balance commercial objectives with the needs of users, which leads to better experiences. If you are looking to undertake user research, surveys and telephone interviews also work well together as the survey can be used to recruit participants for calls. Remember however that Incentives are normally required in most research projects, it’s a cost worth being aware of before the project begins and is especially important if you don’t have much of a relationship with your customers.
5 UX Research Tools We Use In Projects
We utilise a variety of tools when going through the research phase of a new website design project. Some of the more commonly used tools include:
1. Google Analytics
Ubiquitous, easy to use and simple to set up it’s a great resource that should be used in every website project.
Website: Google Analytics
We’ve been using it for three or more years and it’s great for heatmaps, polls, and session recordings.
We use it to host surveys; it’s quick and easy to build surveys and can be used with all manner of email sends or advertising campaigns.
4. What Users Do
Video tests of users completing specific tasks, returns insightful user testing videos quickly.
Website: What Users Do
We use this for testing on location and it’s a great tool providing user interactions on site and allows us to see the facial expressions of users as they proceed with set tasks.
The value of user research should never be underestimated. It means that you are not basing design decisions on assumption and supposition. Instead you are relying on data and user insight, the foundations of effective user journeys and experiences. These methods and tools are just some of the ways to conduct user research and shape positive website experiences for your audience.
If you would like to learn more about how user research fits into the website design process, please view our recent webinar How To Make Your Next Website A Success below.