Ultimately, UX design and research isn’t just important but essential in driving data-led solutions to problems you may never have known about without them. Understanding your users, how they found your digital product, and how they interact gives you the precise information required to deliver what they want and need from you.
With the short version of our answer taken care of, let’s dive a bit deeper into how and why it works so well.
Why UX research? Why usability testing? And what’s the difference?
For those who prefer the why to the how, here are a few popular statistics that are regularly thrown around the UX research world.
- For every $1 invested in UX, the business will see a return of $10–$100.
- 88% of online consumers claim that they are less likely to return to a website after a negative user experience.
Let’s not beat around the bush. UX research is about how your visitors feel when they use your website, but more importantly, it’s about ROI and conversions. How your users feel is directly linked to how they spend, and that’s where the essential figures happen.
- Usability testing is proven to improve conversions on eCommerce websites.
When it comes to UX research and testing, here at UX24/7, we operate on a four-stage approach based around the Design Council double-diamond design model.
- Discover – Discovery research is the first step towards understanding how users react to your product.
- Generate – Generative research follows on from the discoveries you just made, promoting a range of solutions to the problems you found out about.
- Evaluate – Evaluative research comes through prototype testing, built on the back of the solutions generated in stage 2.
- Optimise – Optimisation research tracks your user interactivity, showing where you can adapt each step for an even smoother, more seamless transition towards your goals.
If you’d like to learn more about our four-staged approach, there’s plenty to dive into in our work services section, including various prototyping and testing methods. But for now, it’s essential to understand that much of your vital UX research sits within stages 1 and 2, where usability testing is carried out in stages 3 and 4.
UX research – The discovery and generative research stages fall clearly into the realms of UX research. Researchers dig deep into what users expect from your product, how they will react and what that means for the designers, guiding them in how to put the product together.
Usability testing – The following evaluative and optimisation research stages are where we apply usability testing. Closely and meticulously monitoring the ways users interact with prototypes delivers the facts and figures needed to optimise the build and present the best version possible.
What’s the key takeaway behind UX design and research?
As far as we’re concerned—and we’re experts on UX—the most important and essential component of user design, user research, and user experience, well, the clue is in the question, as they say. It’s all about the user.
Our quantitive and qualitative research methods (you’ll hear a lot about those throughout your UX timeline) uncover the paths, problems, and solutions you need to implement into your practices, all from data provided by, yes, you guessed it, your users.
User experience research or user experience guesswork?
If you don’t involve users in your research, then it’s not user-based at all, merely guesswork.
Understandably, you believe you understand your user better than anyone, you know what they look like and how they behave, but chances are your estimations are in line with your hopes for success and your company goals. The brain is exceptional at tricking us into believing what we want to hear.
If you want the truth, you need data, and to get hold of that data, you need research.
Why user testing is important to UX goals
While research happens during every step of the process, testing your digital products is simply more research. Carried out over numerous sessions via various platforms and devices, usability testing provides valuable insight into how well the product is working for your users and any pain points that require investigation.
Cross-device testing is essential given how often users skip from one device to another, depending on their needs at that time. The data we gather from device to device is why cross-platform mobile development is essential for the UX design process.
To make changes to your product at this stage is still low cost, where implementing necessary changes after completion of the build, due to poorly performed or insufficient testing, comes at a much higher price. The costs of failing to test efficiently and correctly don’t only cover the price of the rebuild or fix, but also the lost revenue from customer dropouts and fall-offs of a poorly performing product.
Exploring UX from the beginning saves the business money
As a stakeholder, you need the best return on your investment, so spending on UX early on might seem premature, but that’s the best time to dig deep and get your research underway.
Understanding how your user thinks and behaves from the outset allows your UX design team to build the ideal journey, from awareness to model, repeat customer, spreading the word and evangelising the benefits of how great you are to their community.
We discus this in greater detail under our business case for UX for those of you who’d like to dive deeper into precisely how UX will save you money and boost your figures.
What does a UX journey look like, and why are journeys important?
One of the essential areas of UX research is examining the user journey to create a user journey map. This methodology is, once again, data-driven, so nothing is left to investor assumptions.
The UX user journey
Whether you call it a user journey or customer journey, it boils down to the same thing. A user journey is the sequence of steps a customer takes to reach your product or service. That means every touchpoint from their first awareness to buying from you and then recommending your product or brand to their community.
They could hear about you via social media, web or TV advertising, email marketing or by word of mouth, testimonials and reviews. Their first engagement could be via your website, app, mobile, desktop or tablet, or in a physical outlet or store. Understanding each stage and interaction helps paint a combined overall picture of interaction, reaction, and behaviour.
The UX user journey map
The user journey map visualises every step and touchpoint available to users throughout any of their journeys. This map—the world around your product—helps you understand how your marketing channels and UX flow strategies are funnelling users to yours and their goals.
Why the UX user journey is so important
Understanding user behaviour is essential to providing the swift and seamless journey they expect. Each user journey is key to understanding where your best performers come from and where your failed routes fall.
With this information, you have opportunities—based on actual data—to replicate your best working strategies, boosting the onboarding of ideal customers. And on the other hand, it also provides the chance to correct those unhealthy issues, reducing churn and customer dissatisfaction.
- Tracking customers provides behaviour data your assumptions will overlook.
- Rectifying pain points removes the issues that cause your users to exit the process prematurely.
- Locating your users’ ‘eureka’ moments—the moment everything falls into place and the user sails towards the finish line. Once you understand where that is, you can really open the floodgates.
- Optimise, understand, optimise, understand… Optimising each touchpoint will boost performance with every issue. All of those smaller upgrades add up to a superbly streamlined uber-efficient machine.
Of course, there’s so much more to understand about user journeys—it’s a massive topic—defining customer personas, mapping out journey stages, and a huge factor is implementing the measurement and tracking throughout the process. If you’d like to know more, we’re always available to talk you through how we could apply our skills and tools to your product development.
Delivering a great user experience means understanding each user journey and ensuring it provides a smooth, happy passage from those first steps to the finish line. Getting each stage right means testing via your users. The scrutiny of their behaviour, frustrations, joys, and earning all that information first-hand shows us why user testing is important at each delivery step.
So, what have we learned? Why is UX research important to business?
There are many moving parts to every business responsible for its overall successful operation; each plays an essential role. For example, we could talk about why production and distribution are important, why IT is important, and even why your brand beliefs and customer culture counts for a percentage of that success.
In the same way, there are many legs to every development journey and given there are so many variables, there’s an awful lot to get wrong. Even with the best intentions and a team full of experienced and skilled performers, there’s still nothing that matches data-driven facts and figures to ensure the best operation of your digital products.
UX research is a must to present the best version of your product possible through extensive and measurable research and testing, leading to giving your users exactly what they need from you.
Only users who fit your customer profiles can provide the information about how they act through their journey, so digging into what the user wants from the beginning of your research provides the prototypes you expect to function well at testing. And if they don’t test as well as you expected? Well, you’ll have a whole new set of data to start optimising with.