User experience (UX) has now become a critical factor that can make or break the success of a digital product like a website or an app. As Steve Jobs said:

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

One of the key pillars of outstanding UX is UX research that involves studying and understanding user behaviors, needs, and preferences to make customer-centric design decisions.

Why is UX research important? This is what we will discuss today along with the following factors:

  • What is UX Research?
  • Why is UX Research Important?
  • Different UX Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research v Qualitative Research
  • Market Research vs User Research
  • UX Designers vs UX Researchers 
  • Common UX Research Issues 

What is UX Research?

UX (User Experience) research looks into the way people like to interact with a digital product and analyzes the user’s behaviors, needs, motivations, and other things.

By integrating these user insights into the design process through methods like surveys, interviews, usability testing, and analytics, your product becomes not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, usable, and tailored to the needs of the target audience. 

The goal of UX research is always the same – to create a positive and satisfying user experience.

Why is UX Research Important?

UX research is the foundation of user-centered design – a philosophy that places the end user at the core of the design process. UX research helps understand the user and identify:

  • Who they are
  • What they want
  • Why they use your product
  • How they are interacting with your product
  • How well you are serving them
  • Where you can improve

With the help of UX research your business can make informed design decisions and satisfy the user needs and expectations.

Let’s get into the details.

1. Understanding User Needs

One of the focal areas of UX research is to understand what the user needs. You need to analyze and research your target audience to identify their behaviors, needs, and preferences.

The first step to understanding user needs is to start by gathering information on them with user surveys and interviews. This can be demographics like gender, age, job, etc. 

You can build user personas to represent different user groups. User personas contain information on the user’s motivation, pain points, and goals. This will help your team design a product or service that satisfies the needs of your target audience.

You can implement the information you gain from surveys while designing mockups and wireframes to meet those needs. Testing the design regularly with real end users through A/B tests, user and usability tests will help you get more feedback. You can improve on your design and tailor your final product to satisfy your users completely using the feedback. 

You can also monitor the feedback and user engagement to improve further. Keep in mind that the needs of customers are always evolving and keeping up with their demands, latest technologies, and trends will keep your design effective and relevant. Creating user friendly design will help increase engagement rates and improve user experience.

2. Creating UCD (User Centered Designs)

UCD (user centered design) is a popular design philosophy that prioritizes the user’s needs, wants and limits when designing a product or service. UCD aims to satisfy user expectations and create an efficient and easy-to-use product.

Without conducting UX research first to gather necessary information on your target audience, your business won’t be able to create a UCD for your product. The data you get will help your designers align the product with the user’s needs and avoid their pain-points.

  • Usability Test

Testing a product or service with a sample from the users through lab testing, remote testing, field studies, etc. This will help reveal how users are interacting with your product or services and provide insights on areas of the design that could be improved.

  • User interviews

 Interviewing users to collect data on their wants, needs and limits through in person or online surveys. This will reveal details about UX that can help you identify aspects of the design that you can improve on.

  • Wireframes and Prototypes

The data you collect through UX research will help you create a wireframe or prototype with a UCD. The mockup can later be tested on users to see if their needs were met and their feedback could help improve the design.

  • Evaluation

Your prototype needs to be tested on users through usability tests and interviews. The feedback you receive will help you make the final product more user-friendly.

The goal of the UCD is to create products and services that are easy to use and satisfy the user, but the first step is to conduct thorough UX research using surveys, interviews and usability tests.

3. Improving Product Usability

Product usability is a measure of how easily customers can use a product such as furniture, websites, etc. Usually, UX researchers and UX designers work on websites and try to make sure users can easily navigate and browse through the website. They need to be satisfied with their experience and not frustrated or confused.

Product usability can be defined by the following components:

  • Efficient: how quickly can the product or service deliver what the user wants?
  • Learnable: how easily can users learn to use the product and service?
  • Memorable: how well do users remember the product or service after a while?
  • Satisfying: how pleasant is the experience when using the product or service?
  • Errors: how does the product behave when the user makes an error?

Improving product usability will help your customers get what they want quickly with limited error and stress. This leaves them feeling satisfied about their interaction with your product. If your business designs products or services, it is very important to have high usability as this will please customers and they will recommend your product to more people.

If you own a website, usability becomes even more important as the competition is much higher in the digital market. People will leave your website seconds after they face any confusion or issue and go visit your competitors instead.

There are many types of tests that can help you measure your product usability. It is calculated using these metrics:

  • Time: how long does it take for users to complete a task?
  • Success Rate: can users complete tasks?
  • Error Rate: how many errors do users face?
  • Satisfaction Rate: how satisfied were the users?

4. Increasing Engagement Rates

Engagement rates are based on how the user interacts and responds to the interface of a website or app. You have around 3 seconds to convince a user to stay and if you are successful, you will get some more time to hook them with compelling content, user-friendly interfaces, personalized experiences, and effective communication. 

You can also keep them engaged by citing pain points they may experience and discuss how to improve and reduce the issues.

Engagement is more complicated than clicking through some pages and visiting a website. Certain actions create more value than others, such as downloading a case study is more valuable than reading a blog post. 

User engagement rates can be measured with a few metrics like:

  • Bounce Rate: Number of users that load a page on your website but leave before interacting with it or visiting a different page.
  • Repeat Visit: Users that visit or return to your website more than once in a certain time frame.
  • Conversion Rate: Number of visitors to your websites that convert (complete form, download content, sign up for trials, make purchase, etc).
  • Page Per Session: An average of the number of pages on your website that users view during each session.
  • Top Exit Page: The last page a user visits before they leave your website.

5. Building Brand Loyalty

Having a great UX design is fundamental to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Successful products and services have to look good and be easy to use while meeting user needs. 

Designs based on UX research will always improve the customer’s experience and help you build long-term relationships with them.

  • User expectation 

Brand loyalty can’t be built without satisfying your customers and meeting their expectations. People will enjoy interacting with your product more if you perform thorough UX research before designing them.

  • Smooth performance

Your product or service needs to have seamless performance on different devices like mobile, PC, tablets, etc. Consistent design and function across all devices and platforms will build brand loyalty as customers will recognize you as a reliable business.

  • Trust

Interfaces that are visually pleasing and user friendly tell customers that you consider them before designing a product and value their feedback from UX research. This will help build loyalty and trust for your brand 

  • Reduced User Effort

The customer will be satisfied as long as it is effortless to navigate and use your product. You should try to design to minimize user effort and make interactions enjoyable and easy.

  • Personalized Experience

When you design a product or service tailored to customer preferences on an individual level, you can create a personalized and intimate user experience. This will help them feel understood, valued, and satisfied with your brand.

6. Keeping Up With Changing User Demands

The world of UX design is dynamic and constantly changing. There will be new tools, trends and methods that are being found and invented everyday. It is very important to stay relevant and up to date with current trends but it can be a challenge to maintain a balance between usability and innovation.

Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to keep up with changing user demands:

  •  Stick to your core values, priorities and purpose

When trying to keep up with the latest trends and user demands, it can be easy to forget your core principals. Remember the problems you are trying to solve with your product or service and focus on what’s important.

This will also help you analyze if the new trends, demands, and innovations are relevant to your product and if you should implement it into your UX design.

  • Don’t mimic every new trend

With the help of UX research, you can keep up with recent customer demands and everything new in the UX industry but you should not forget or compromise your brand and voice. You can learn from new trends but don’t mimic something because it is popular at the time. 

Instead focus on understanding the context and results of implementing new trends into your design. Apply the knowledge you gain from UX research on latest trends and try to align relevant components into your design.

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment

It can be tiring to keep up with every new trend and customer demand. This is why don’t be afraid to experiment before implementing any new trends into your design. 

With popular UX research techniques like feedback, prototypes and user tests, you can measure results and evaluate if new features and design changes are actually improving the UX or harming it. 

This will help erase any confusion you have and adapt to the latest trends effectively.

  • Adapt to Market dynamics

In the ever-changing world of UX design adapting to market dynamics is a must. Not only do user preferences and needs change rapidly but new cutting-edge technologies also influence your design capabilities. 

Failing to recognize and respond to the changes will make your design irrelevant and outdated super fast. This is why it’s important to stay in touch with market dynamics by conducting regular UX research.

7. Increasing Conversion Rates

UX research and design is essential in conversion rates from generating leads to retaining customers. Great designs can only be created after thorough UX research has been completed. There are many ways your UX design can increase conversion rates.

  • Website Speed

Customers today expect quick and fast websites. Slow websites will impact your brand negatively. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of users leave a website if it takes longer than 2 seconds to load. The same report states that 79% of people that shop online won’t visit a website a second time after a disappointing first encounter. 

Since one of Google’s primary ranking factors is website speed, you need it for gaining organic traffic as well.

  • Navigation

Navigation is the way users travel across your website, browse the contents and complete actions. Navigation across your site should be simple and easy, you can do this by including a site search bar that relies on the information architecture of the website. Successful UX designs make complicated tasks simple for the user without losing any functionality.

  • Landing Page

Landing pages are used to make a positive impression on new and returning visitors. They can also be used to test your design using A/B testing methods. A proven way to improve UX on landing pages is to add video rather than plain text. It’s more efficient to communicate using videos and attractive to users as well.

When you design landing pages, remember to include testimonials and reviews as social proofs for your product/ service. Social proof shows that people used whatever you are providing and they enjoyed it as well. Strategically placed CTA (call to action) buttons in your landing page will help engage and convert the users.

  • CTA Button

Knowing when and where you need to insert CTA buttons is an important strategy to increase conversion rates. CTA buttons that are displayed prominently will help users know what they are clicking and why and what to expect after the click. UX design for websites can be tested to see if the placement of CTA buttons is increasing conversion rates or not.

8. Building User Empathy

The ability to share and understand the feelings of another person is called empathy. Empathizing with your users is very important when designing your products or services but first you need to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. 

When you feel sorry for someone you recognize their feelings but you don’t share the same feelings yourself. When empathizing with someone, you share the same feelings as them. Using UX research to build empathy for the users will help you solve the problems they want solved. 

  • Ask lots of questions

You can never empathize with your users or run successful UX research if you don’t take the time to know your audience better. Ask them about their needs and include ‘what, why, how’ questions to get a better understanding of their perspective.

  • Pay attention and listen

This is really easier said than done. Instead of focusing on what you want to ask next, try to focus on the customer’s answer. You will be able to gain unbiased feedback that can help improve your UX design.

  • Encourage and appreciate user feedback

Unbiased and objective feedback is important to any business. Colleagues and friends will normally give positive and biased feedback because they want to support you and not hurt your feelings.

Getting unbiased feedback from different user groups and sources will help you understand the user’s authentic feelings about the experience of your product or service.

  • Keep an Open Mind

You won’t be able to build any empathy for anyone if you don’t keep an open mind. Your aim is to understand what the user wants and not get it confused by inserting your own emotions and opinions.

  • Don’t stop doing UX research

Staying up to date on your UX research will reflect on a successful UX design for your products and service. Research methods are constantly being updated as we learn more about the psychology of humans.

Doing UX research regularly will give you an advantage over your competition and help you interact and understand your audience better.

9. Early Issue Identification

One of the main benefits of user research is to find early UX design issues. Frictions are another way of describing issues, it is used to describe how the user feels when your product isn’t designed to be comfortable.

UX research methods like usability tests and interviews can be used to identify these issues early on. Other methods include UX audit but you need to outsource tasks like that usually to get unbiased feedback.

  • User interview

In this method of UX research, a researcher will rely on the user’s response about their experience rather than direct observation. It is a common method that provides insights into your product and areas where you can improve.

  • Usability test

During usability tests, a UX researcher will follow a user group while they use your product and ask questions to understand what the user is thinking. Observing users help researchers notice the problems, errors, and confusion they experience.

The research could be quantitative, qualitative or both and be measured by usability metrics like success score, error rate, etc.

  • User shadowing

User shadowing is a little similar to user interviews. Shadowing needs to be done in a “natural habitat’’ so that users don’t feel like the situation is ‘staged’. User shadow needs more resources and time from research but results show more details than usability tests.

  • Customer support insight

It is tough for designers to be able to communicate with users directly. This is when UX researchers come in to help full-time. They can talk to the users about their problems and issues while using the product. Customer support provides accurate data on where the users get stuck on their user journey.

10. Avoiding Assumption Bias

Biases can be described as having an assumption on a person before you even get to know them. It can lead to discriminatory practices and unwise decisions. 

Assumption bias can impact your UX research and negatively influence the design of your final product. After all, UX researchers are also humans and all humans can be affected by bias unconsciously.

When you are doing your research, you need to try to avoid any bias and see beyond any pre-existing assumptions you had.

Here are some assumption bias you may face while doing UX research:

  • False consensus bias

False consensus bias is when you have the assumption that everyone else will have the same thought process as you. During UX research, false consensus bias occurs when you overestimate the number of people that will like your design or idea.

This can be avoided by identifying your assumptions. For example, you live in a town where everyone shares the same religion. When you encounter a new person in the town, you automatically assume they share the same religion since both of you live in the same area. This is why it is so important to survey everyone.

  • Primacy bias

Primacy bias happens when you remember the first participant more significantly than the rest. Many times the first person you interview might make the strongest impression. You need to take detailed recording of everything that happens during your research so that you don’t get distracted by memorable first impressions

  • Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is when you look for evidence so you can prove a personal theory. Since you think you know the answer, you get easily attracted to information that may seem to confirm your hypothesis.

For example, you think people that live in warmer countries are more athletic than people that live in colder countries. As you do your research you will naturally be pulled towards the information that supports your theory and builds your evidence, even if it isn’t actually true.

A common way to avoid confirmation bias is to ask open-ended questions that users can answer with freedom instead of just yes and no. You should also build on active listening habits to avoid adding your own assumptions and opinions.

This will prevent you from guiding the candidate towards answers you want to hear. You should also include a diverse and large user sample to avoid gathering a group of users that are aligned with your assumptions.

  • Recency bias

When it’s easier to remember the last information you heard during a conversation, interview or a similar setting, recency bias may occur. The way to avoid this is to take thorough notes just like primacy bias, so you can recall everything from the conversation not just what was said in the end

  • Implicit Bias

Collection of stereotypes and attitudes we connect to people without any conscious knowledge. Implicit bias may sometimes be called unconscious bias as well.  

A common case of implicit bias during UX research occurs when you only take people based on limited identity profiles like age, race, gender, and socio economic status for your interview.

This may cause less representation in your design and research. It’s important to remember that everyone has implicit bias.

To overcome these biases. you need to reflect on your own attitude and ask someone else to point out your implicit biases to get aware about them. 

  • Sunk Cost Fallacy

Sunk Cost Fallacy can be described using an example. Imagine you’re watching a boring documentary, but you have already watched for 90 minutes so you decide to finish it anyways. 

UX designers often invest hours into a new feature but after UX research they find out that the new feature doesn’t solve the user issues. It is tempting to continue working on the design they featured but focusing the time on design that impacts users positively will be better.

Break your project into simple steps so you can decide when to stop and when to continue working based on new information and insights you get.

  • Wording bias

This type of bias is also called framing effect sometimes and it occurs when UX researchers frame questions in a particular way to suggest a specific answer.

  • Availability bias

This occurs when UX researchers reduce recruitment filters to avoid screener questions and gather the number of participants required for the research in a short period of time. This decreases the chance of gathering objective insight.

  • Hawthorne effect

The Hawthorne effect is when participants become aware of the fact that they are being observed and try harder than usual to answer questions.

  • Cultural bias

When UX researchers understand results based on their cultural assumptions and attitudes instead of a neutral perspective, it is called cultural bias.

  • Social desirability bias

This occurs when the candidate’s response is designed to impress the researcher and tell them what they want to hear instead of the objective truth.

This involves candidates giving answers that are similar and use their assumption of your brand to give a positive response instead of an objective and neutral one.

11. Ensuring Inclusivity

Everyone experiences the world differently. If you want to design a product or service that provides satisfying UX for everyone, you need to collect data from as many people as you can.

Some demographic factors you can include in your research:

  • Geographic location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Disability
  • Educational background

UX researchers need inclusivity to gain valuable data and insight from people with different experiences and needs. This research can help make your design more accessible and usable.

Accessibility should be a core principle in your design process. By including many different perspectives while conducting UX research, you can design a product that satisfies everyone.

Having an inclusive approach to your UX research will help you empathize with users and build a deeper and more empathetic knowledge of the issues they face. These insights will help you create a UCD (user centric design) for your product.

The data you find in your research can help you notice and solve user pain points so they can have a satisfying experience. This will increase your retention rate in the long term. If your UX research is all-inclusive your product will be accessible to all users.

  • Craft your research with inclusivity

Before you can start your UX research, you need to keep in mind that you want to reach out to different types of people.

Interviews and research sessions are an important method of UX research and you get to interact with your users and get direct feedback, but you should always take data from different sources to get more details and insights.

Everyone will not have the time, motivation, or energy to participate in your interviews. This is why you should include other behavior data sources such as session recording, survey, heatmaps, etc

  • Include a diverse range of participants

Inviting a small user group with similar qualities will reinforce biases and impact your UX research negatively, causing you to miss on potential users. Try to find participants from various backgrounds to get a vast range of feedback and design an inclusive product that everyone can connect to.

  • Challenge your personal biases

As a UX researcher you need to be aware that you don’t bring your biases into the equation unconsciously. You can avoid your biases about a participant by listing them down and approach your research to avoid such assumptions.

  • Keep an open channel for feedback

Common UX research methods like interviews are essential, but to stay ahead of your competition you should have a dedicated channel open for customer feedback. 

Many businesses ask for feedback during certain times like before launching a new product. 

This is obviously helpful but you may miss out on everyday issues that users may want to report. 

A feedback channel will let visitors to your website report issues as soon as they face them and make them feel valued and included.

  • Make participants feel comfortable and respected

Inviting candidates to help with your UX research is not enough; you need to create a comfortable environment for them to get the best results. Any successful UX researcher needs to make sure the participants feel respected and their opinions get heard. 

How can you unify data with empathy?

If you ever feel that an interview is steering off topic, wait for the candidate to pause before redirecting them back on topic in a polite manner. This will- 

  • Help candidates feel their responses are important
  • Redirect the interview back on topic
  • Show you value their time

12. Staying ahead of the competition 

Nowadays most businesses adopt a UX research strategy before deciding the design of their product or services. There are many reasons why comprehensive UX research can help you stay ahead of your competitors.

  • Gather user information 

Collecting general information for your UX research will be a waste of your time. You need detailed information to get meaningful results and observe the behavior of your users carefully. 

As a UX researcher you need to gain a complete understanding of the background, current situation, expectations and  perspectives of your customers.

  • Gain interesting insights

Conducting thorough UX research will help reveal interesting insights. You can get to know more about your users, their natural environment and how they interact with your product or service

  • Make Informed decisions before designing a product

The data you get from your UX research will build the foundation of your design strategy. The insights you get on your users, what they need and the context in which they use your product will all help in your designing process. 

The output from UX research will serve as a starting point before you begin creating your design.

  • Reduce cost and time

UX research might sound like a time-consuming and expensive task. However, when you launch your product and it turns out unsuitable for users, the cost you incur then will be much higher than doing UX research. 

More importantly, apart from losing money and time you run the great risk of harming your image and reputation. Rebuilding it will take even more time and cost you more money.

13. Reducing Risks and Costs 

UX research is the most inexpensive way you can reduce the costs and risks in your product development and design process. It is the cheapest way to prevent more expensive issues in the future.

Amazon released a whitepaper titled ‘Trillion Dollar UX problem’ where they revealed they lost $1.42 trillion every year due to incomplete UX research.

If you ignore UX research when designing a product, you will invite a lot of issues for your business in the future. UX research will help prevent and anticipate some of these issues and reduce the risks. In the long run, this will cost you less time, effort, and money.  

According to research from the IBM system science institute, fixing an issue once the development is done will cost you 100 times more than predicting the issue beforehand. 

  • The right research will help you design the right product

You need enough information to make an informed decision. Poor decisions usually occur because of insufficient data. Without the right information we end up relying on personal bias and assumption. 

The more information you gather during UX research, the easier it will be to take precise actions that benefit the end user. Similarly, having less information will increase the chance of hurting the image of your business.

  • Reducing risk

You are not expected to know everything, but you should invest the time and money to find out more about your users through various UX research methods. Remember to be curious, communicate and double check with your audience.

Important insights are always hidden between lines and your job as a UX researcher is to infer them. You can use the information you get to offer innovative solutions for your users that might not be available in the market. Communicating with your users will help design enjoyable products and services that satisfy them.

UX Research Methods

There are many UX research methods available for you and they are usually separated into two categories: Quantitative (Quant) and Qualitative (Qual) research.

Qualitative UX Research

Qual or qualitative UX research will focus on a small group of users to understand their needs in great detail. Qual research tries to find problems with UX, recognize the source of the issues, and try to solve them. 

Qual methods are used to find out why users are having negative experiences with your product or services. Questions in qual research usually begin with Why or How. 

FlexibleDifferent user feedback can make it hard to draw a conclusion
Detailed feedbackNo statistical analysis, can be hard to represent statistically 
Nonverbal clues like emotional data that influence user decision making
Data might challenge your bias and assumptions
No right or wrong answers which makes collecting data easier

Some popular methods of qualitative research-

  • Interviews

Interviews are used to gather detailed data on people’s assumptions, opinions, experience, belief and feelings. They can be done 1 on 1 or in a group setting like a focus group. You can conduct them in person or remotely through video calls.

  • Usability Test

In this method you will test your product or service with real end users and ask them to interact with your design. It can be moderated, unmoderated, in person (lab setting) or remote (video call). You have many flexible options of conducting usability tests

  • Focus Group

The focus group method refers to discussion between a small group of usually 5 to 10 candidates that is guided by a moderator. The goal of the discussion is to know more into a user’s thoughts, desires, impressions, beliefs and reaction regarding certain concepts.

  • 5-Second Test

A 5 second test is a type of usability test that shows participants an interface or design for 5 seconds and then asks them questions to understand their first impressions.

  • Diary Study

Diary studies will require you to gather data from users over a long period of time using diary or journal entries. This method can be used to get rich data that provides a lot of context into how users think.

  • Field Study 

Field studies in UX research require you to observe and collect qualitative data from human end users while they are in a natural environment like their office or home. The goal of field studies is to get information on a user’s behavior, challenge and needs that could be used to improve and create a design for your product

  • Session recording

In this method you will record a user’s full session of interaction with your product. As a UX researcher, you can observe a user’s clicks and scrolls while they interact with your products and use the data you collect to get insight into user behavior

Quantitative UX Research

Quant or quantitative UX research is focused on collecting measurable numerical data from large groups of people. It is used to decide the scale of an issue and design options. It is also often used to track the UX of a product over time.

Quant research questions usually begin with ‘how much’ and ‘how many’ and the answer is usually statistical data. It helps reveal the number of users that feel a specific way about your product or certain features of it.

Advantage Disadvantage
Large sample size increases credibility and provides a general conclusionNo in depth feedback
Straightforward, researchers can collect data fast from a large groupDoesn’t represent everyone, requires generalization and assumptions from your end that may lead you to incorrect conclusions
Can help do statistical analysisNumber based, doesn’t expand on a user’s thoughts, feelings and motives

Some commonly used quantitative UX research methods are:

  • Surveys

The most popular method of collecting quant data is through surveys. Users have to complete a set of questionnaires. Surveys can be used to collect qualitative data as well but it needs to be structured in the right manner.

  • First click test

In this method, you will need to observe where participants click first on a UI (user interface). This helps identify potential issues and give an idea on a user’s expectation from the user interface.

  • A/B testing

During A/B tests you need to test at least two models of your design on your users and find out which is most effective. Each version should only have one different aspect that could influence the user’s reaction. It is commonly used to confirm assumptions and bias drawn from qualitative research.

  • Website Analytics

Tools like Google Analytics can help you measure metrics like CTR (click through rate), page view, and more which could give a proper understanding of how the user behaves.

  • Tree test

Tree tests involve getting rid of the UI (user interface) and having users navigate around the site only using links. This can help you figure out if an issue is caused by the information architecture or the UI.

  • Card Sorting

This method of UX research requires participants to arrange various topics into different categories depending on what makes sense to them. This helps understand what the user might expect from your information architecture.

  • Eye tracking

Eye tracking uses special technology to record and track a user’s eye movement while they interact with a digital interface. This can be used to find where they pay most visual attention and help designers to improve and optimize those elements of the interface

Quantitative Research vs Qualitative Research

Just one research method won’t be able to answer all of your UX research needs. The best strategy is to use both as they are needed to get information on your end users and the UX research process. Combining quantitative and qualitative research methods will help you get the most accurate results. 

We have discussed several quantitative and qualitative methods of research and many times the insights they provide are a mix of both. Usability tests for example can collect qualitative data on why the participants fail to accomplish a task in a website.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. As a UX researcher, it is your job to decide which methods will help you complete the goals of your research. Regardless of which methods you choose, the insights you gain from UX research studies will make important contributions to the design and UX of your product

Market Research v User Research

The world of UX research is always evolving. The lines between market research and User research can get blurry when you try to define it. User research could be called a section of market research. They can both be conducted during any point of a product’s lifestyle and both try to understand the customers. 

There are many different goals behind market research or user research but most of the time, market research tries to identify your target user while user research focuses on the user’s experience.

Market research usually focuses on the following questions-

  • How do the target audience feel about the brand?
  • How do advertising campaigns impact the audience’s purchase interest and their perception of the business?
  • What market niche and demographics have the highest potential for sales?

User research helps optimize the design of a product and how it interacts with users. While market research may focus on the sales of a product or service, user research concentrates on the way users interact and engage with a product or service. Most user research is done to find a solution to problems that users may face. Some common questions user research try to answer are-

  • How do features of a product affect its usability?
  • Will users react positively to a redesign of the product or service?
  • How do users interact or use a product everyday? 
  • What do users enjoy about the product and what are they frustrated by?

Both market research and user research will help you provide the target audience with exactly what they need. Sometimes both methods will overlap when trying to identify the target audience. 

Usually market research is associated with quantitative research and user research is associated with qualitative research, however they often overlap each other in methods. 

So, what makes them different? User research is more closely related to UX research. User researchers need to be familiar with design and engineering terms to understand the issues and solutions better.

User research tries to make a positive impact on a product’s design and user engagement while market research tries to impact a product’s sales strategies. Both strategies are necessary to identify your user’s and optimize their experience. 

UX Designers vs UX Researchers

As you know by now, UX (user experience) focuses on how a website, product, service can be designed to make it easy to use. Function is the main emphasis and to make a well functioned product for the users, it is important to understand the audience first.

UX research tries to answer the following questions:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they motivated by?
  • What features do they prefer?
  •  What features do they not like?

Many small brands have the same UX research and UX design team but they have some key differences:

  • UX research is the process of understanding the user and the first step in designing a product. It is important to understand the users, how your product can improve their daily lives, etc. You won’t be able to design a user friendly product without data from UX Research. The data will help you analyze user behavior and needs which will help UX designers build a product users will enjoy
  • UX design is the process of designing user-friendly products which serves the user’s needs. This can only be accomplished through UX research which help get insights on end users

UX research uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand the target user. They look at various metrics like bounce rates and try to understand the reasons behind users leaving.

  • Interview- UX researchers need to do interviews in both focus groups and 1 on 1 settings. THey ask questions, engage conversations and observe the behavior of users in a natural atmosphere 
  • Surveys- This can be done online and in person to understand a user’s thoughts on a product or service
  • Observation- Users will be observed as they interact with a product to understand their thoughts on it and how easily they can use it
  • Usability testing- Testing prototypes of products or services on target users to observe their interaction both online and in person. Users are encouraged to talk researchers through their entire thought process while they interact with a product

The insights and data UX researchers get from their studies are used by UX designers to help them create a user-centered design that the audience will enjoy.

The designer needs to create wireframes and prototypes before a final product. UX research helps collect user feedback from the prototype so they can be edited based on the reviews.

Common UX Research Issues

UX research is becoming important everyday and researchers need to be curious about users and their needs. Here are few common issues UX researchers may face:

  • Research candidate recruitment

Recruiting the appropriate candidates is everything in UX research as the quality of the data depends on the quality of participants. Finding the right candidates takes a lot of time and effort.

  • Underappreciated research

Many businesses still believe that UX research is time consuming and expensive and it can be true at times. There is no unit of measurement for UX research making it harder to measure its success. This leads to low expectation from UX researchers and their data and insights not getting incorporated into the design strategy of a product.

  • Budget

UX research usually doesn’t get the appropriate budget it needs from companies as they are allocated to other aspects like developing a new feature for the product. Companies usually prefer investing in technological and software upgrades over UX research as they might get higher ROI (return on investment)

After the data from UX research is analyzed, the company may not have enough resources available to incorporate the data into product designs. As a result many companies don’t prefer investing into UX research


UX research methods don’t require coding skills but some researchers use it to analyze data. However, most methods don’t need any coding

Usually the size of your user sample will depend on the objectives of your research. Usually qualitative research like interviews and usability tests require 5 to 20 people while quantitative methods like surveys need a bigger sample to get accurate statistical readings

UX research is done to understand a user’s wants, needs and issues. It can also help optimize a product’s usability, UI (user interface), engagement and satisfaction. The feedback and data from users can be leveraged to improve the product or service depending on the product development stage and resources available