Evaluative research

Evaluative research can be defined as a research method used for assessing a specific problem to ensure usability and ground it in the wants, needs, and desires of real people.


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The goal of the evaluative research methodology is to test your existing solution to see if it meets people’s needs, is easy to access and use, and is hopefully even enjoyable. This type of research should be conducted throughout the development lifecycle, from early concept design (think rough sketches or prototypes) to the final site, app, or product.

Why is it valuable?

Evaluative research should always be a part of the iterative design process. Getting designs in the hands of our users as soon—and as often—as possible ensures that the experience will be shaped and refined to truly meet customer needs and expectations.

How UserTesting can help you conduct evaluative research

We can get concepts and designs in front of your target audience quickly and easily. If you have something for your contributors to hold or view, whether it’s live or still a prototype, we can get feedback on it.

Our customers commonly:

1. Ensure the design meets users’ expectations as early as possible by getting feedback on working designs or prototypes. Contributors can fully interact with the screen and speak aloud about how they interpret what they see and what could be improved. If they happen to run into issues with semi-functional prototypes, which is totally normal, they can even be asked to speak on what they expected to happen.

2. Optimize existing experiences by asking contributors to complete key tasks on live designs. For example, a contributor was previously asked to filter her flight options as she would normally expect. When searching for a flight, she only wanted to view direct flight options, but was unable to find where to filter. While it may seem like a small issue to some, removing that obstacle could increase customer satisfaction, decrease site abandonment, and ultimately increase the bottom line.

In another example, Purina came to UserTesting half a year after launching the My Pup app, looking for contributors to offer feedback on their initial design and suggest improvements. The result? After implementing changes, Purina saw an increase in engagement by 365% and a boost in active users by 48%.

3. Test “real life” experiences. Customers may ask contributors to record themselves using or unboxing a specific product or taking a test from a particular location. In a previous test, UserTesting’s contributors unboxed and set up a Nest thermostat. This provides valuable insight and context into the experience after customers have completed a purchase, including getting the item, opening the package, installing it, and using it for the first time.