So much research goes into designing (and upgrading!) today’s products to ensure they are functional and easy to use. Jaime Creixems – a UX expert and Springboard mentor – walks us through the 12 steps of the UX research process, from isolating key pain points to conducting interviews with actual users. Learn about the top three traits of successful user researchers and why the mentored bootcamp experience at Springboard is invaluable for career changers.
UX designers design experiences for users, but they can’t do that very well if they don’t understand who those users are! User research is the process of getting to know a potential audience and what they are struggling with, so a product can be designed to meet their needs. Then, there's a series of techniques that help understand, synthesize, and formulate the right products for the right results from that research.
What is the main goal of user research?
The main goal of user research is to understand who your users are, the problems they have, and then, in what context they are using that product in order to solve the problems that you have identified.
You cannot design if you don't understand the needs of the user. You could construct something in your head, but you might end up with a product that completely misses the mark because you don't have insights from the users on if they're struggling with it. You may think you're solving it, but if you're not connecting, you can’t be sure.
At Springboard, a student’s research is focused on creating new projects from scratch without data. In the real world, a very important part of the research comes from data from real current users that will use your app.
Here’s how we break down user research into 12 steps:
What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative research?
Both quantitative and quantitative research give you an understanding of the problems of a product or design, but they don’t give you the solutions. Since user research is so dependent on actual users, we use a qualitative flow when we already have type users and good data to assess analytics, performance, flows, and see funnels.
Researchers tend to be more scientifically-minded while designers tend to be more artistically inclined. Successful user researchers need to have the following three qualities:
Does user research look different at a small company versus a large organization?
User research can look profoundly different at different companies, from non-existent to existent! More than the size of a company, what matters more is the culture of research inside a company.
Should all UX designers know how to do UX research?
It's a good idea to know both UX design and UX research, and I think they should respect the process of each discipline. As UX expands and grows, I think UX will get more specialized, with new roles like interview specialist or design systems manager, rather than just UI or UX designer.
Tech is always changing! What are your predictions for the UX career?
Design Ops and Design System Management are two areas expanding inside UX. These will be architectural roles that consider components and how they evolve and look in different devices. They’ll also be thinking about how to make designers’ lives easier by creating the right components with the right variations and applying them in the right places.
UX researchers will use a variety of tools to process data and ideate.
3 Design & Whiteboarding Tools
4 Analytics and Processing Tools
If you already have an audience and an app out there, it's important to go to your analytics, customer satisfaction indicators, user feedback, sales teams or conduct customer service, and to get the data from both current and new users.
Fig Jam and Miro are also great alternatives for summarizing the results of data. Many have pre-made templates that ease the process as well!
What is the process for recruiting participants for user research?
There are several tools available to recruit participants for user research. Our Springboard students go into their world to get participants for their user research projects. These participants may be found through friends, Reddit, and community forums. People are surprisingly willing to help and really love to have their opinion heard!
How do designers share their UX research with other stakeholders?
Many designers summarize their techniques and main conclusions in a legal presentation that they can take to stakeholders, like product managers and marketing teams. These presentations share their insights, based on the data collected from interviews and personas, that identify what needs to be addressed and how to move toward a solution. A legal presentation is helpful, as well as a PDF report consolidating their findings into something digestible and easy to process.
UX design is an emerging field and there is nothing that is established as the one right answer. There are many different ways to approach a problem and understand the needs of your users. The real value of learning at Springboard is connecting with a mentor one-to-one every week who is guiding you through that process, motivating you, and keeping you there. There is a value to that that no article can give you.
In Springboard’s UI/UX Design Bootcamp, the first project goes through the whole UX process (research, ideation, final design), and then there is a project focused on research, followed by a UI project. When you graduate from Springboard, you are prepared to be a UX designer, both on the research side and the UI side.
If you’re interested in UX Design, we recommend checking out our Intro to UI/UX Design Course!
The main thing career changers need to foster is curiosity. If you're not curious, not empathetic enough, or not interested enough, you won’t be a good UX researcher. If you want to get started on this path, there are plenty of resources online that can help.
There are also helpful blogs that have great insights and articles, like:
Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps.
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