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Top 5 UX Research Methods

User research in UX design is the study of the needs, problems, and motivations of target users through interaction and observation. User research is essential in UX design for mobile applications as it allows you to create the best product possible. 

To conduct user research, designers can use several different methods that help improve the usability of your product. These methods are divided into two main groups: quantitative (statistical data) and qualitative (descriptive data).

And what are the research methods, exactly? Well, let’s take a look at the top 5 methods in UX design that any UX agency should use.

User Interviews

This is one of the best-known and most-used research methods in UX design for mobile apps. User interviews allow you to gather qualitative data easily through conversations with users.

This method consists of asking strategic questions and then analyzing the answers. The goal is the uncover pain points to avoid creating an unfit app. At the same time, interviews help get information about the users’ expectations. 

A strong downside to user interviews is that more often than not what people say is different from what they do. Always try to include an observatory method, such as contextual inquiry or usability testing.

Contextual Inquiry

Also known as field studies, context inquiries help you understand how a user behaves naturally in their environment. To apply this method, you must observe the user on-site and examine how they interact with the mobile app in their comfort zone. 

It’s not uncommon for people to feel out of place in interviews, so an analysis that has them interact with the product in a more familiar environment can be incredibly important for the designer.

Card Sorting

This is a simultaneously qualitative and quantitative research method which can easily be considered the most effective one to organize information within the mobile app. To conduct this method, participants organize cards into categories according to what sounds and looks best to them. 

This is extremely helpful to the designer because it allows them to understand how users group and label different options, which, in turn, is valuable knowledge. Once the designer is aware of how users would like to group the information available, they can improve the app’s information architecture in a way that will make the most sense to the average mobile user.

It’s one of the most used UX research methods used in the early stages of design creation. 

Usability Testing 

Usability testing consists of analyzing the behaviour of users interacting with a specific designer’s product. Users are asked to perform several tasks within the app, and the research designer takes note of the main pain points.

But doesn’t it sound a lot like contextual inquiries? A bit, yes, but whereas context inquiries users are evaluated in their environment, usability testing uses a group of people that performs the same tasks in the same scenario.

Usability testing is one of the best research methods as it can give the designer real insights into the interaction between the users and the product. This is especially true when the designer can provide a working prototype, in the later stages of the developing process.

A/B Testing 

A/B testing is a method that helps designers detect flaws more quicker. With this methodology, the researcher has the opportunity to test slightly different designs and assess how each of them performs (design A and design B, hence the name). 

Several users have access to different versions of a design, and then the designer resorts to analytics to determine which outdid the other or others. It’s especially relevant when designers are torn between two options and need help figuring out which could perform better. 

Some consider it a limited research method, but it serves its purpose quite well – to choose between a few design options. Furthermore, it’s an adequate method to test visual design aspects and information architecture options.

Final Notes 

Choosing the right UX research method depends on what is being built and what are the goals of the project. 

However, despite all methods proving to be successful in their scope, the best way to ensure that the app meets users’ needs and addresses properly previously detected pain points is to make a balanced and strategic combination of different methods and get the best of different worlds.

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