Getting started with UX research

8 resources and key terms to know
Close of of UX team working

Picture your favorite website or app. Behind the shiny landing pages and smooth interface was likely the efforts of a user experience (UX) researcher. UX researchers help create the products you love to use. Now, think back to a not-so-great website or app you’ve recently used. This negative experience can probably be attributed to the deprioritization of UX research or poorly conducted user interviews. 

Even though we’re all customers, we don’t understand what it’s like to be our customer. The only way to get around this is to leverage usability testing and speak with your customers directly. In an age where consumer preferences and habits change by the minute, prioritizing your customers is to prioritize UX research. The benefits are aplenty; a Forrester study found that organizations that invest in UX see decreased costs in customer acquisition and support, and increased customer retention and market share. Instilling the habit of usability testing early on will pave the way for future success and pinpoint issues before they form. 

Whether you’re just starting your UX research career, pivoting jobs, or implementing UX research for the first time, with the below resources, you can access all you need to get inspired, find answers, prep for your first study, or gain more awareness. 

8 UserTesting resources to keep in your back pocket 

1. Modern UX research in action: 10 research stories 

Innovative products need innovative solutions. With this in mind, UserTesting put technologies like wearable devices and enhanced navigation to the test—beyond the traditional website usability testing. 

In this guide, learn from destination, longitudinal, and beyond-the-device studies. See how customers use Yelp’s app, how FitBit influences user behavior, and how the Nest Thermostat compares to expectations. Plus, you’ll learn how iPhone users feel about 3D touch and the pain points users have about Google Wallet. 

2. The UX research methodology guidebook

It’s said that getting started is the hardest part. Need help in the early stages? This guide offers insight into the where, when, and how of UX testing. Learn the various research methodologies, when to use them, and how to organize and present your findings. 

Get the answers to the following questions: 

Plus, a lot more! 

3. Keeping score: why and how you should benchmark your UX

UX research isn’t solely conducting studies. It’s also analyzing your findings and communicating the insight. While frequent testing is vital, so is ensuring research is done correctly while on the road to achieving business goals. 

There are many benefits of benchmarking. It helps you and your team better understand trends in customer behavior and engagement to ensure things are going in the right direction. Without it, you risk creating blind spots and not knowing whether or not your research efforts will pay off.

Access the guide to learn how to implement a benchmarking strategy. 

4. A guide to buying the right user research platform

UX researchers, designers, and product managers must quickly find the right user research platform to focus on what matters. If you don’t know where to start, think about what you need, how you’ll assess vendors, and what to say if you get objections. 

Download this guide to learn what to expect from a user research platform. 

5. Which qualitative method is right for you?

So, you know the difference between quantitative and qualitative research and realize that you need the latter to reach your goals. But not so fast. Qualitative research has many types and methods, from moderated and unmoderated tests to in-depth interviews and focus groups

Closing your eyes and randomly picking one won’t set you up for success. To decipher the right one for your study, you’ll need to understand each one. This guide breaks down the pros and cons of qualitative research types and offers case studies for inspiration. 

For example, Jennifer Lee, UX Research Lead at Wise, recognizes that the Human Insight Platform helps her scale the organization's research function. She says, “I needed to convince the company that qualitative research is valid, necessary, and important. This would not have been possible without UserTesting. I used it as a hook, with the promise of simple and fast access to research insights. Speed proved to be the consistent selling point for my colleagues. Getting insights back in under two hours was a game-changer for them.”

6.  Testing mobile experiences

Our phones have seen it all, from the casual to the frantic moments. To stay competitive, it’s not sufficient for organizations to have a website without an app counterpart. And if you offer a mobile experience, you should be testing it. By ensuring your mobile experience is consistent with or better than your desktop experience, you’ll cater to customers who prefer mobile and are always on the go with their smart devices. 

This guide answers questions like: 

  • What are current best practices for mobile testing?
  • How do I test before development or before release? 
  • How should I structure tests? 
  • What are the real-world experiences I can test? 

This resource is ideal if you're new to mobile testing or haven't yet incorporated it into the normal development process.

7. The startup's guide to user feedback

Despite common misconceptions, usability testing isn't limited to large organizations with plentiful resources, budgets, or headcounts. In actuality, usability testing is the thing that differentiates your startup. 

While the grim reality is that 90% of startups fail, according to HubSpot, taking time for user feedback can minimize the chances of this statistic coming true. 

This guide will convince you what user feedback can do, show how UserTesting startup customers have succeeded, and get you closer to human insight that’ll enhance your product. This resource is especially helpful if you’re new to remote testing or need guidance on incorporating it consistently into your development process. 

8. Quantitative and qualitative insights: better together

Different research methods offer different insights. When it comes to UX research, qualitative and quantitative research are both necessary and shouldn’t be decided between. As the title of this guide suggests, they’re complementary, not competitive. 

This resource answers all you need to know about the advantages of conducting quantitative and qualitative research types. By marrying data and analytics with human insight, you’ll be on the fast track to scaling, lowering churn, and improving customer loyalty. 

The key terms every UX researcher should know 

Like any other industry, the UX research space has jargon you’ll need to master to better collaborate with your team and utilize UX research tools and platforms. If any of the above guides contain terms that have you stumped, find the definitions below.  

Empathy gap: The empathy gap refers to the idea of not being able to relate to the emotions, needs, and feelings of others because they’re naturally experiencing the world around them differently than you are. In business, this refers to the gap between the experience organizations provide and how customers feel about those experiences. The best way to avoid this is by collecting user feedback through usability testing or user interviews. 

Human insight: Human insight is understanding your customer by listening and observing with empathy. It can connect the dots between what they think, feel, say, and do. It provides the why behind the data and gives you the context to understand customer needs and design ways to serve them better.

User Experience (UX): User experience is how users feel about interacting with what's in front of them when they’re using it. Traditionally, UX research studies user interactions to help designers create customer-centric products and experiences.

UX design: UX design is the process of designing (digital or physical) products that are valuable, easy to use, and delightful to interact with. It's about enhancing people's experience while interacting with your product and ensuring they find value in what you provide.

Confirmation bias: Confirmation bias occurs in UX research when teams rely on results that support their ideas or hypotheses rather than thoroughly testing them. It’s also a common human tendency, making it especially challenging for teams to identify.

Scenario: A research scenario is a few sentences that help set the stage for your test contributor. It appears only after a test participant has passed the screener questions and met the qualifications. A scenario may complement screeners, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. 

Screener questions: Screener questions, or screeners, are multiple-choice questions that either eliminate the wrong participants from taking part in your study or give access to the right ones. Although testing all types of participants would be simpler, this can negate your research efforts if your study has specific audience needs. By recruiting participants similar to your potential or current users, you’ll receive accurate feedback to enhance your product. 

UX benchmarking: UX benchmarking tests the progress of a site or app’s user experience over time. One advantage of benchmarking is that it can be measured through different iterations of a prototype, before-and-after versions of a feature, and competitive analysis. 

User interface (UI): UI is anything a user may interact with to use a digital product or service. It includes computer and mobile screens, keyboards, sounds, and lights. 

Customer experience (CX): Customer experience is how a person feels about the experience of interacting with your brand. Great CX is about providing a valuable, easy-to-use, and enjoyable experience to every customer, on every device, across every touchpoint—in a way that fulfills expectations and promises. 

The research methods every UX researcher should know 

UX research is a broad term with many ways to go about it. There are qualitative and quantitative, generative and evaluative, and various others. To know which one to choose, understand each, and have your budget, study goals, and time constraints decide the rest. 

Remote usability testing: Remote usability testing is a method of remote research that uses an insight platform to record the screen and voice of test participants as they interact with your product or experience in their natural environment—whether that’s their home, office, or other location.

Qualitative research: This behavioral research method relies on non-numerical data. Qualitative research collects and analyzes observations and recordings that characterize phenomena. The three types of qualitative methods include unstructured interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research. 

Quantitative research: This research method collects and analyses numerical data that’s easily verifiable. Quantitative research includes surveys, A/B testing, and web analytics. 

Generative research: This research method helps researchers develop a deeper understanding of users to find opportunities for solutions and innovation. It's sometimes referred to as discovery or exploratory research. 

Evaluative research: Evaluative research, also referred to as evaluation research, is a research method used for assessing a specific problem to ensure the solution's usability and ground it in the wants, needs, and desires of real people.

Concept testing: Concept testing is a qualitative research method involving getting feedback from your customers or target audience to validate a concept before bringing it to market. It’s critical because it helps you predict the success or failure of a finished product early in the process. 

Tree testing: This research method provides quantitative and qualitative insight about the user to help you understand where people get lost finding content or information on your website. 

Card sorting: A qualitative research method, this is used to group, label, and describe information more effectively based on user feedback. 

The infinite ROI of regular customer feedback 

The sooner you prioritize customer experience and UX research, the sooner you'll see the ROI and happier customers who're on the way to becoming lifelong advocates. 

Similar to how you aim for your customers’ sentiments to change for the better, we hope these guides turn frowns and confusion into sighs of relief. With the best practices for UX research, the right platform, and testing frequency, you’ll be on track to creating incomparable user experiences today and tomorrow. 

For more, visit our industry reports and guides database to find industry-specific resources.

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