6 Signs You Should Invest in UX Research

| May 20, 2015
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User experience research sounds nice. But at the end of the day you’ve got a bottom line to think about. And on top of that, your time and resources are limited.

The good news is, industry surveys have shown that every dollar invested in UX will bring $2 to $100 in return. And user research can help you use your resources effectively, so you can launch products and features your customers love.

But how do you know if investing in user research is right for your company? Well, if you notice any of the following signs, then getting user feedback might be a good idea:

1. You’re about to launch a new product, feature or design

Anytime you’re coming out with a new product, feature, iteration, or just a refresh of the overall aesthetics of an app or a website, there’s tons of opportunities for research.

This is a good time to gather feedback from users. For example, is it fun to use, or is it a pain? You can test from the low-fidelity prototype stage where you don’t even have interactions, all the way up to a high-fidelity prototype where you’ve got the code built out.

2. You’re doing market research for new product development

If you’re trying to understand how people solve a problem in the market right now, it’s a good time to start doing user research. Start talking to users before you start sketching anything or wireframing. First, learn more about how your target market is currently solving their problem today, and what opportunities there are in the market.

In this stage, research your potential competitors’ products and run user tests on them. Even though you aren’t testing your own product, this is the experience that users are currently having.

3. You’re not sure people understand how to use your design

Are you 100% sure whether or not users “get” your product design? Do you ever wonder if there are any frustrations that you’re not seeing based on the way that you’ve built out certain features? When we’re too close to our own work we need to get feedback from people with fresh eyes.

You might be thinking, “You know, we don’t even know if people can figure this out or not. I mean, our analytics tell us that people seem to be using this feature. But are they running into problems that our numbers don’t explain?”

For example, Evernote wanted to understand how customers interacted with their app across multiple platforms. After running a few user tests, they were able to uncover where users were getting stuck and frustrated while using their apps. Since making user tests a key part of their product development cycle, Evernote has improved user retention by 15%, and dramatically increased user engagement.

4. Your customers aren’t part of your product design process

You could definitely design something and push it to market without talking to any users. It could be a success, a failure, or something in-between. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until after you launch.

But product-market fit is something that you can have control over. And the only way to find that is by incorporating people who would actually use your product into the design process. That way you’ll be able to validate that your product is filling a market need before you launch the first version.

If you’re building something without getting feedback from potential users, you could be steering the ship in the wrong direction and not even know until it’s too late. We suggest testing your design early and often.

5. You have low conversion or high churn rate

When you’re looking at a particular metric (like conversion rates, churn, or retention), your numbers can give you a sense of what’s going on — but they can’t tell you why it’s happening.

User research can help you dig into the problem and understand the “why.” Once you know why a page isn’t converting, or why your customers are dropping off, you’ll be able to run A/B tests that address the specific issue you’ve identified.

6. Your customers have a lot of misconceptions

If your sales team finds that their leads have all sorts of misconceptions about your offering — or if your customer support team keeps getting the same questions over and over again — then maybe your value proposition isn’t being clearly communicated.

And if you keep hearing things like, “the customers just don’t get it, we have to teach them,” then you could benefit from investing in user research. Find out whether your messaging resonates with your target audience or not. See how people would describe it in their own words.

Conclusion

Maybe you’re about to launch a new product, or you’re in the early stages of a website redesign. Either way, your project would benefit from having real people give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

Whether you’re building something new, or just refreshing a previous design, the most dangerous thing you can do is guess. And if you’re not getting feedback from your users, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Getting buy-in for user research can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that we’ve helped thousands of design, product, and marketing folks find the right leverage points they need in order to nail down a user testing budget.

If you think you might need help making a pitch for a UX budget, then check out our article “Help! My Boss Doesn’t Think Usability Testing Is Worth It” and our guide “Building a Case for UserTesting.”