What Is Key In User Research? 5 Key Elements

Tobi Moyela


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91% of displeased customers don’t complain about bad experiences after using a product. Instead, they quit using the offending product without giving feedback. If users keep quitting your product without telling you why, how can you know what’s wrong and what to fix? Here’s where user research comes into play.

Instead of waiting for users to complain or provide feedback of their own accord, you could just ask them via user research. You can then use insights from the research to improve product design and performance. User research is also invaluable during product conceptualization because it provides insights that increase your chances of building a product that users actually like and want.

However, user research only works if you do it the right way. In this guide, we’ll cover what is key in user research so you can conduct research that provides relevant and valuable insights. But before discussing the key elements needed for effective user research, let’s clarify what user research is.

What is user research?

User in this context refers to the group of people you had in mind when building your product. These are the people who will use your product to experience value and improve their lives. Knowing your target users is key to building a user-centric product, and the best way to identify and understand your users is through user research.

User research is a comprehensive study of your users (or customers) with the goal of understanding their needs, preferences, pain points, motivations, and more. Insights from the research will help your SaaS company create products with a user-centered design. It also eliminates guesswork, so you can make data-driven decisions that optimize your product’s aesthetics, user experience, and functionality.

What is key in user research?

What Is Key in User Research, different elements

As we’ve stated, user research or user experience research (UX research) only works if you do it correctly. If your design team incorrectly researches customers or uses the wrong user research methods, they’ll acquire misleading data. Relying on such data can cause your team to focus on the wrong user needs and derail product development.

If you focus on the wrong user needs, you will add features that target users find unnecessary or valueless. Also, your user experience design won’t engage target users because the design is a better fit for a different target audience. You don’t want this because studies show that bad UX can make up to 88% of users abandon a site.

Avoid executing a faulty user research process by first identifying what is key in user research. User research is a methodological and structured process that adheres to clearly defined research principles. It’s much bigger than asking your buddies or colleagues if they like your app.

Define target users

The key to successful user research is to identify and define your target audience – the people who need your product. Once you’ve identified the user group that makes up your target audience, you can begin studying their user behavior, needs, and motivations. The user insights from your research will help you take a user-centered approach to product design and development.

Use the right UX research methods

Several user research techniques exist, such as focus groups, user interviews, and questionnaires. The right type of research method to use will depend on your company, target users, product, and other factors.

Pick a research method that allows you to ask the questions that will get you the answers you need. For instance, user interviews involving open-ended questions are better for getting comprehensive and in-depth answers.

On the other hand, questionnaires are ideal for quantitative research that gets plentiful data from a large number of users. Besides selecting the right research method, your user research team should have the skills and tools to collect, analyze, and apply the data meaningfully.

Be detail-oriented

Observing user actions and behaviors is a key part of the research process. Your observation will reveal patterns that lead you toward your product’s areas for improvement. However, you will miss the patterns to analyze if you don’t pay attention to details during user research. For example, watch for recurring user complaints regarding the same feature during your research.

The more detail-oriented your user research is, the more likely you are to understand your customers. Also, it will facilitate identifying what to improve so you can deliver a more relevant and functional product.

Don’t assume

Assumptions are dangerous things to make. The purpose of user research is to know for certain what users like or dislike. Making assumptions counters accuracy and leads to making poorly informed decisions that negatively impact product development.

Instead of assuming user preferences based on incomplete data or personal opinion, see your user research to the end. By your research’s conclusion, you will have enough data to determine how best to proceed to build a user-centric product.

Empathize with users

One of the fundamentals of well-executed user research is empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of your users so you can understand their complaints and feedback. Your understanding will help you proffer solutions that effectively solve the problem and improve user experience. Be more empathetic during user research by being open-minded and an active listener.

How to conduct user research

We can’t discuss what is key in user research without covering how to conduct user research. 96% of your unhappy customers won’t complain to you, but they will tell 15 friends what you did wrong. Those 15 friends will likely also tell their friends, which is bad for business. Instead of waiting for customers to complain, control the script by asking users for their opinions through user research.

You can use qualitative or quantitative research methods to learn what your users want or dislike. Qualitative research methodologies involve gathering non-numerical data, such as opinions and experiences. You can use such data to gain insights into user problems, expectations, and behavior. Examples of qualitative research methods include user interviews, focus groups, and usability testing.

On the other hand, quantitative research involves collecting and analyzing numerical data to answer research questions. You can use such research methods to survey a large user group and learn about usage patterns or demographic information. Examples of quantitative research include surveys and A/B testing.

Most SaaS businesses combine quantitative and qualitative research techniques to understand users better. Select the right research method for your company by picking one that best addresses your research goals and fits your target audience. Besides selecting the right research method, other steps you must follow to complete your user research successfully are:

Clarify research parameters

What do you hope to learn through user research? What questions should you ask to get your desired answers, and who should you question? These are some of the essential parameters you must clarify if you want a focused research process that delivers relevant data.

When identifying who to ask questions (your target users), consider factors like demographics, job titles, industry, and experience level. Accurately identify your target users by creating a user persona for your ideal or typical users. After fleshing out your user personas, you can begin searching for existing individuals who match the user personas you created.

Conduct the research

Once you know your target users, you can select individuals to participate in your research. These are the individuals you will contact to ask your questions. Depending on your target audience, you can reach out to possible participants via social media, email campaigns, or online forums.

You are more likely to get a positive response if you ask people to be research participants via communication channels they normally use. For example, if your target users prefer Facebook, don’t email them to join your research. Also, ensure that participating in your research is as hassle-free as possible for participants.

Analyze your data

You can’t overlook analyzing and understanding collected data when looking into what is key in user research. After all, the gathered data is why you conducted the research.

Start by documenting findings from your research. Analyze the collected data to identify trends, patterns, and insights. Take note of insights from your analysis and use the information to optimize your product development process or product design. Also, share your research findings with your team, stakeholders, and other relevant parties.

Continue iterating

User research isn’t a one-time thing because customer needs and wants constantly evolve. As such, you should perform user research at regular intervals to identify changes in your target users’ preferences. If changes have occurred, use insights from your research to create new, more relevant, and valuable iterations of your SaaS product.

How to implement user research

We’ve clarified what is key in user research, but after your study, don’t just sit back and stare at pretty data charts and graphs. Make the most of your collected data by implementing insights gained from your research. For instance, you can use the insights to optimize your product design and create a more valuable and user-centric product.

Follow the below steps to implement data from your user research:

  • Analyze user data: Raw data isn’t much use until you’ve analyzed it to identify patterns and trends. The identified patterns and trends will provide the insights you need to make well-informed product development and design decisions.

  • Prioritize the findings: Your research will probably reveal multiple insights, but not every insight will be relevant to your research. Identify the insights most relevant to your goals and user needs, and prioritize them.

  • Take action: Next, brainstorm how to turn your prioritized findings into an actionable item or deliverable with your team. You can then incorporate the deliverable into your product design. For example, if your research revealed users find logging into your app troublesome, the actionable item or solution could be to integrate Google sign-in. Doing this will enable Google account owners to log in with a few clicks.

  • Test the changes: Did your modifications work and make a valuable difference? Testing changes answers this question so your development team will know how to proceed. Get accurate answers by testing changes in the real world with real users. You can also use A/B testing to compare the changes with the old design to confirm which delivers the best results.

Are you ready for user research?

Now that you know what is key in user research, will you perform user research yourself? Well, you don’t have to. You already have enough on your plate so reduce your workload and get better results by working with DevSquad – Your friendly full-service product development team.

Besides user research, we handle everything else to make your product development a success. You can count on us to help you achieve a 100% user-centric product that gets your target users excited and converting. Contact us today to learn more about our product development and design services.

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