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User Research Methods

User research is the most important aspect of any business.

Users drive your business, design, and technology.

Any business, design, or technology that works, works because it works for a specific someone, a user. Any business, design, or technology that isn’t working can probably be found with issues understanding their unique, specific someone.

According to Usability.gov, “User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.” It’s the process of understanding the business, design, and technology needs of your users.

User Research Methods

There are about 15 respected methods of conducting user research, but we’ll only talk about the ones that accomplish three out of four of these categories: know your user, content, design, test and refine, to maximize your time spent conducting user research.

Card Sorting

Put your site’s information topics onto cards and then ask a user to sort the information into categories that make sense to them.

Benefits: foresight into expected site structure, information to back homepage decisions, and labels to put on categories and navigation

First-click Testing

You’re looking for where the user would click first for a specific task.

Benefits: insight into how users use your site’s navigation and link structure, which result in task completion

Focus Groups

Focus groups are a moderated group discussion on your site’s concepts.

Benefits: insights into your user’s attitudes, beliefs, desires, and reactions to your concepts

Individual Interviews

Individual interviews are personal, one-on-one discussions with users.

Benefits: deeper, personal understanding of your user

Surveys

Surveys are questionnaires built to attain specific feedback from your target audience.

Benefits: collect a lot of information at low cost, expand your understanding of: who your users are, what your users want, and what information users are looking for

Usability Testing

Usability testing involves watching your users perform tasks with your product or service.

Benefits: are you tasks intuitive, measure customer satisfaction, identify needed UI or content changes

More Resources

The purpose of this post was to bring light to methods you may not have thought of and to pass on shortened information; however, if you want to learn more on the benefits, best practices, and processes of each of the above mentioned methods, visit any of these resources:

Usability.gov

Wikipedia User Research

User Research at Medium

You can find me at @chrisjohnsoct on Twitter!

It’s a goal of mine to be the best UX strategist and frontend developer in the world. Will I be the best? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to share my journey with the world, and this post has been apart of that.

Chris Johnson, CEO of Hack It Hour, UX strategist, and frontend surgeon

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