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To build products that your users will love, you need to go into their minds to find out what their preferences are. User research is a step by step process of discovering the problems that your target audience faces at different points in time to help you create user-centric designs. 

Like every other research method, the success of your user survey depends on how well you can put different layers of information together. This starts from asking the right questions to using the best tools that will help you gather valid insights. 

What is User Research? 

User research is all about discovering who your target audience is based on a wide range of methods like ethnographic surveys and quantitative research. It involves studying multiple interactions a user makes with your product and utilizing this feedback for product improvement. User research is a practical approach to understanding customers’ behaviors, needs and pain points so you can create the best products for them. 

User research cuts across different parts of an organisation, especially design and marketing. Marketers depend on user research to craft compelling brand messages that appeal to the target audience. On the other hand, designers utilize insights from user research to create better designs for the market. 

Without user research, there's no way to know what if your product is solving a problem or how it would work in the real world—would the market love it or does this product miss the mark? Without user research, you'll never know and this makes it nearly impossible to build for your target market

Benefits of User Research 

  1. User research helps you to build empathetic products that meet the core needs of your target market. 
  2. It gives you a clearer idea of how users utilize your product in everyday life to achieve their goals. 
  3. User research helps you to cut down costs by limiting the need for costly product iterations along the way. When you have a clear idea of who your users are and what they want, you'll spend less time building a product they will love. 
  4. It helps you to nail product usability design. You'll create something that people will actually use because it addresses their pain points. 
  5. User research gives you a clear idea about the features you should prioritize for your product. Many times, organizations have a long list of features they want to incorporate into a product. With user research, you can streamline this list and have only important features that improve the product's functionality. 
  6. User research provides a clear path to understanding users’ mental models, that is, what they are already familiar with. With this insight, you can create a design that meets their expectations without sacrificing your creativity. 
  7. It's an effective way to spot unexpected differences between user groups in your target market, based on their needs and goals. This is very helpful for companies building products that cut across multiple market segments. 
  8. User research is an important part of design strategy. It helps you to create functional designs that are valuable to users and easy to use. 

User Research Methods

Observation

Observation is a data collection method where the researcher pays attention to users to see how they naturally interact with your product. Observation helps you to understand users’ pain points as they go about their normal routines in their natural environments. The nature of the observation could be accomplished either as a complete observer, an observer as a participant, a participant as an observer or as a complete participant.

Advantages of Observation

  1. It is the simplest method of data collection in research.
  2. Observation results in more accurate data collection. 

Disadvantages of Observation

  1. It cannot be used in all user research contexts.
  2. The observer’s personal bias can affect the validity of the research results. 

Focus Groups

A focus group is made up of 6–10 participants from your research sample who openly discuss a specific topic as part of research. During focus group discussions, participants have the opportunity to share feedback and insights on a particular topic.

Focus group

The mediator sets the stage for the conversation and takes note of all the views shared on the topic. 

Pros

  1. It helps you to obtain in-depth information from research participants.
  2. It is a cost-effective data collection method.

Cons

  1. The researcher has very little control over the outcome.
  2. The group might not be a true representation of your target audience. 

Contextual Interviews

Contextual interviews or inquiries merge observation methods with traditional interview methods to understand the context in which a design will be used. It allows the researcher to understand how people use a product in a specific context. It's a great way to see your product from the users’ perspectives. 

Pros

  1. It introduces a user-centered approach to design.
  2. Contextual inquiries produce in-depth research data for organizations.

Cons

  1. It is time-consuming.
  2. It can be difficult to accurately interpret data from contextual interviews. 

Usability Testing

Usability testing helps you to measure the range of your product and how users can accomplish a variety of tasks with it. Usability tests are done repeatedly, from the early developmental stages of the product until its release. Results from these tests help you to build the best product for the market. 

Pros

  • It helps you to rate your product’s performance in terms of its functionalities for users.
  • Usability tests provide high-level contextual information for research. 

Cons

  • Usability testing requires a lot of commitment from participants; that is, it is time-consuming. 
  • It is a complex method of data collection. 

First Click Testing

First click testing measures the user-friendliness of a product to determine its usability. It allows organizations to know how easy it is to complete a task on their website or mobile application. As the name suggests, first click testing is all about examining what users will click on first to complete an intended task. 

Pros

  • You can get real-time feedback from a large number of users in a short time. 
  • It helps you to discover any usability issues with your product. 

Con

  1. You can't test the whole website and website flow during first click testing. 

Online Surveys

An online survey consists of a set of structured questions that participants respond to as part of a research. Online surveys are administered through data collection platforms like Formplus that allow you to receive and analyze data efficiently. In user research, online surveys come in handy for every part of the product development process.

Pros

  1. Participants get real-time access to online surveys and can fill them at their convenience.
  2. Online surveys are fast and affordable. 

Cons

  1. High-level of survey response bias, especially when completing the survey comes with incentives.
  2. Data errors due to question non-responses. 

Tools for Users Research

Formplus

Formplus is an online and offline data collection tool that you can use to create and administer surveys for user research. Apart from its ready-to-use templates for user research surveys, you can also create your form from scratch in the drag-and-drop form builder.

Formplus-builder

Here, you'll have access to multiple form fields and features to help you collect data in different formats. 

To get started with Formplus, visit www.formpl.us to create your free account. 

Usability Hub

Usability Hub is a tool for first click testing. It allows you to measure how people complete tasks on your web or mobile application and how long it takes them. You can also test critical paths in your UI to know where users experience bottlenecks with your design. 

Optimizely 

Optimizely is a user-friendly platform for usability testing. With this tool, you can accomplish a number of tasks including multivariate testing, geotargeting, visitor segmentation, cross-browser testing and mobile website testing. Optimizely is free-to-use, although there's an enterprise plan you can go for based on your needs. 

Lookback.io 

Lookback.io allows researchers to conduct remote user research and to perform self-test research on users’ end based on set goals and objectives. Designers can communicate with each other in real-time using this mobile user research platform. 

Airtable

Airtable is a spreadsheet/database-like tool that has UX research templates to help you search and categorize participants and session insights.

User Research Best Practices  

  1. Know who your users are
  2. Prioritise their needs
  3. Be flexible
  4. Conduct research at every stage of the process
  5. Always communicate 
  • Know Who Your Users Are

You cannot build a product that people would want to use without knowing who your target audience is and what they like. At this stage, it's best to leverage qualitative research methods like face-to-face interviews and focus groups to learn about users’ preferences. You can also send out surveys with close-ended and open-ended questions. 

  • Prioritize their Needs

After collecting data from users, the next step is to organise this information for useful insights. You should look out for preference patterns that cut across multiple subgroups in your research sample. Your design should address the primary needs you have highlighted from your research data. 

  • Be Flexible

Building a user-friendly product means you need to be open to trying out new ideas outside your comfort zone. Once you have enough data backing pointing to a specific need, you should find a way to include a product or design feature that addresses this need. 

  • Conduct Research at Every Stage of the Process

User research isn't something you just do once and that's it. At every stage of the process, you need to keep testing your product features to make sure you're on track. It's also important to conserve some budget and resources to perform research later in the project as well.

  • Always Communicate

Make sure everyone on your product development team has access to the user research data, plus a clear idea of what you're trying to achieve. On Formplus, you can use the teams and collaboration features to coordinate communication with relevant stakeholders who are working on the product. There's nothing like too much communication so use all the channels you have to keep everyone in the loop.

Top User Research Form Templates

1. Ethnographic Research Survey

Use our ethnography research survey to discover your target audience’ perception of your product. This survey allows you to gather useful feedback to improve your product’s usability design.

research survey

You can tweak it to suit your unique needs in the form builder. 

2. Mobile App Feedback Form

After launching your new mobile app, you can send out this mobile feedback form to find out what users think about it. In this survey, you can ask questions about the app’s aesthetics, functionalities to know if it meets the needs of your target market. 

3. UI/UX Research Survey 

Use this Formplus UI/UX research questionnaire to gather feedback on users’ experiences with your application. This survey can also help you to determine areas needing improvement in terms of the interface of your product.

ui ux research survey

You can embed the form on your website for easy access. 

4. Product Testing Survey 

You shouldn't go live with a new product without having information about what your target market feels about it.

Use our product testing survey to gather useful feedback from users and receive suggestions on how your product can be improved. 

5. Concept Testing Survey

Do you have a great idea for an ad campaign, product or service? How about finding out what your target audience thinks about it using the Formplus concept testing survey?

concept testing survey

This survey is suitable for marketers and advertisers to test their clients products and new concepts.

6. Product Research Survey

Make better and smarter business decisions with our product research survey. This is an effective way to find out what your customers think about your product in terms of its quality, pricing and features. Survey responses can help you improve your product. 

Conclusion 

In this article, we've looked at all there is to conducting user research including the tools you need plus the different methods you can adopt for the best results. User research is an important part of product development as it provides actionable data that sets one product apart from the other. 

Depending on what you want to achieve in your research, you can merge different user research methods and tools. Formplus allows you to collect first-hand customer feedback using simple and powerful online forms. You can also create PDF surveys in our new PDF form builder and download for use



  • Formplus Blog
  • on 9 min read

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