User research plays a significant role in quality assurance for any kind of product or service.
You want to know how your users see the experience of using your website. Observing things from their viewpoint lets you build a better user experience to keep them coming back while also drawing new users.
The question here is how much user research is enough?
You could devote all of your time and budget to this aspect of your business, but that just isn’t viable. How much is enough?
Figuring out if you’re doing too much or too little is a challenging task.
Always Start User Research Early
User research isn’t some kind of scoring system to evaluate projects once they’re finished. It’s an ongoing process that starts from the very beginning.
The end user needs to be part of the product development life cycle, which means implementing user research as early as ideation is critical.
Insight into user needs and wants is precious, and you want that value during the development process.
Knowing what users respond to or dislike early on can let the website development team avoid dead ends and disasters.
Finding out that a particular feature is useless or unusable for users after the fact will mean all that work went to waste.
Early user research can help you answer the tough “should we?” questions.
“Should we build a website journey or experience that does X for market Y?”
“We’re hearing a lot of buzz around feature X in a competitor solution. Should we roll something like this out for our customers too? ”
“We know that users are tripping up here but how should we iterate on this experience?”
What Can User Research Do for My Website?
User research is beneficial to everyone involved, including business owners, developers, and end users.
Good research will cut down the uncertainty inherent in any development process. It paints a clearer picture of what development should be working towards and what the final product end-users are looking for is.
The data you retrieve from user research will answer some critical questions about your website:
- How are users actually using it, and why?
- Is your website achieving what it has set out to do?
- What do customers love about our website?
During the development process, user research also helps you make decisions between multiple options based on credible evidence.
Getting user research started early enough can also cut down on website development time.
You could identify the key points that users are looking for very early on, rather than fumbling around through lengthy development to find them.
This will streamline development dramatically, letting you give customers the best web experience as soon as possible and reducing your development costs.
How Do I Do User Research?
There have been codified and widely used methods to understand what clients and customers want from businesses for decades now.
These methods are carefully developed and improved by marketing and user experience experts.
Fundamentally, they take the following form:
- Observe users interacting with your concepts or prototypes
- Understand their reactions
- Analyze insights for patterns
Different methods accomplish these in different ways, but the end goal of using qualitative feedback from users to improve your website is always the same.
Surveys are one of the most popular user research methods for getting direct and actionable feedback from user groups.
Surveys are easy to design, deliver, and manage. Online surveys give immediate feedback and can be designed to focus on specific areas.
One of the challenges when designing surveys is avoiding leading questions.
Leading questions impart subtle biases to users based on their wording, ordering, or other aspects. Giving users multiple options with qualitative answers won’t yield reliable results, so most surveys ask for a value on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale.
Online surveys are beneficial because they are very cheap to develop and use. However, one big problem is that it relies on users to communicate their feedback.
Users don’t always really understand what they like or dislike about a website, and finding the absolute truth can be difficult or even impossible for complex issues.
This is where the next method comes in handy.
User Interviews, sometimes called moderated studies, are essentially live surveys.
You have a live conversation with your users to understand their needs. The advantage is that you’re able to dig in real-time to better understand user sentiment and feedback.
One drawback to user interviews is that they can be timely to adminster as you will need someone to moderate the session, and then you’ll need time to analyze the findings.
Usability testing can occur as early as concept design to ensure that the website is headed in the right direction. And it can be used in the development stage to ensure that what’s being built is built right.
It relies on 1:1 sessions with users that are representative of your customer base. Usability testing can depend on as few as five participants, which doesn’t sound like much but is statistically significant.
A key benefit of usability testing is that the users are directly observed.
Business stakeholders, web designers and web developers can watch what the users are doing and see what they struggle with independently of reporting any issues.
Users often overlook the real issues at hand and don’t communicate problems enough to address them.
Usability testing can be applied for the whole website or just a few points that require more finetuning.
Designers or developers will make a list of different tasks for users to attempt, like signing up or making a purchase. Observing the users, developers can identify where they have problems in these specific processes and start looking for ways to fix them.
The nice thing about usability testing is that it can be done in a moderated or unmoderated setting.
You can sit down with participants live or on Zoom to conduct a usability study. You would present the website and tasks and observe them as they take the study.
Or you can do it an unmoderated setting where you set the study up in user research software. The software will handle setting the study out to your participants and collating the results for you.
The advantage with unmoderated testing is that it saves a lot of time as there isn’t a need for someone to moderate the sessions.
Development Projects With Reliable User Research
With Pulp implements the latest user research best practices into our web strategy, web design, and development projects.
Contact us today to hear more about what we can for your business with a free consultation.