Research: a tool to base your decisions on evidence and not on intuitions
Do you want to know why your product or service is not booming as expected? Do you have a new idea, but you doubt if users will accept it? Do you want to identify what features should be improved to capture the users' attention and satisfy their needs? Do you and your team know where your time and resources should be best invested? Do you want to set your company apart from your competitors, but you don't know what your users are looking for?
These are just a few questions you can answer by conducting research. Exploring your users' behaviours, motivations and needs, detecting which features of your product or service work and which don't, and studying your competitors to identify solutions that could add more value, are key processes for decision-making.
Success doesn't come from individual opinions or intuitions of team members. Observing and experimenting with your users is always the best way to find valuable answers. To develop relevant and effective designs and solutions, it is crucial to make informed actions and evidence-based decisions.
But ... what do you mean by research? What kind of studies do I need to conduct? 🤨
Research is a systematic process to obtain new knowledge on a certain topic. The type of research actions and methods required will depend on your objectives, the type of information you need, and your resources and availability.
Maybe you have already heard of User research, Design research or Market research. All of these are research fields that can help obtain relevant data to inform designs and come up with effective solutions. Both User research and Design research focus on collecting information to empathize with your users and understand how they interact with your product or service. Market research is more focused on understanding the context of your product or service in order to detect the needs and preferences of your market of interest.
“What all user research has in common is that it helps place people at the center of your design process and your products. You use user research to inspire your design, to evaluate your solutions, and to measure your impact. ” – Ditte Hvas Mortensen, User Research: What It Is and Why You Should Do It. Interaction Design Foundation
Quantitative or qualitative data?
This is a question that we are often asked. And the answer is: it depends! Each type of data can inform you about a different aspect regarding your users and their experiences.
Measures users' behaviour and attitudes in a way that can be quantified and used for statistical analysis. Quantitative methods, such as surveys and A/B tests, generally allow to obtain a larger volume of data, which is useful to identify behavioural patterns, detect market trends, and characterize the demographic profile and attitudes of your users.
Research actions, such as interviews and usability tests, generally seek to gain a more comprehensive understanding of users' experiences, behaviours, and attitudes. These methods are particularly useful to understand the motivations and needs of your users, or to observe how they interact with our product or service.
In general, a combination of quantitative and qualitative research is preferred to achieve a more complete view of your users and their environment. At Pixel Research Lab, we know that no single method can cover everything. That's why we come with a toolbox of both qualitative and quantitative methods that allows us to answer any type of research question.
How can I do research?
It doesn't matter if you are dealing with a simple or a complex problem, any research action should follow these steps:
🎯 Define your goals
Do you want to explore what your users are looking for or need? Or do you need to validate a new functionality of your product? In any case, make sure to come up with specific and concrete questions you want to address, and think what type of data will help you solve your doubts. Limit the number of questions in each research action as much as possible: less is more!
🙋🏻♀️ Define your sample
Think carefully about the type of participants that will be recruited for your study. If your sample is not representative of your users, your conclusions will not match the reality of your product or service, which can be costly.
🧰 Choose the research methods
If your goal is to understand your users' needs or explore how they interact with your product or service, methods such as interviews and ethnography studies may be helpful. If you want to test a new functionality or a design, usability tests or satisfaction surveys can be a good option. But note: when choosing your research methods, it is not only important to consider the type of data you need, but also practical factors such as budget, availability, and time constraints.
📋 Develop a guide with the materials you will use to collect data
Once the research methods have been selected, prepare all the materials required to collect the data before contacting your participants: write your interview script, design the usability test, prepare the survey, or define the metrics that you will analyse in a benchmark.
🧑🏻🔬 Test and collect the data
If the previous steps were well-prepared, this will be the easiest one! Whether you conduct tests in person or remotely, remember to take good care of your participants. Keep in mind that they are not just "data", but the people who will give meaning to your product or service.
📊 Analyse the data and draw actionable conclusions
In addition to describing what you found, think how the data answers your research questions, and use your insights to guide your decision-making.
📣 Document the findings and share them with all stakeholders
How we deliver research findings is almost as important as the research itself. To get the most out of your research, all stakeholders need to understand and remember your findings.
"Deliver your findings to really make it memorably stick with those people. Good storytelling is key to connect with users emotionally and delivering actionable insights." – Melissa Suzuno & Anna Savina. Summer Kim on the best ways to approach user research. Miro Blog.
Does it seem too much to handle?
Don't worry! A research action doesn't need to be expensive or time-consuming. The important thing is to define concrete and focused research questions and run quick and continuous iterations throughout the design and problem-solving process.
Here are some tips that we always follow at Pixel Research Lab:
👉 Include all stakeholders in the research process: from developers, designers and CEOs to users.
👉 No need to invest a lot of time and money: many questions don't require running lengthy or complex research processes. With quick and iterative research actions, you will be able to make evidence-based decisions in every step of your process.
👉 Before you start collecting data, think carefully about your research methods and the audience you are planning to test. This step is crucial to obtaining reliable insights!
👉 Whenever possible, include more than one research method in each action. You will obtain more robust insights if you triangulate the results from different methods.
Follow the research recipe!
Did you like what you read? Do you want to have more information or do you need to answer any questions? Contact us.
We will be happy to meet you! 🎉