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UX research has evolved significantly, expanding its scope from focusing solely on product effectiveness to encompassing branding, social context, competitor influence, and more. The traditional isolated researcher model has shifted to a collaborative team approach. While the impact of UX is significant, the challenge lies in leaving behind the “my baby” syndrome and understanding that projects continue beyond this stage of involvement.
This multifaceted role of a researcher involves empathy, collaboration, and strategic thinking to create successful products. Research leaders now emphasize creating an agile, empathetic research environment where various team members contribute to bringing the users’ voice into product development.
The GS Lab | GAVS’ webinar on “Demystifying UX Research” was an insightful discussion between Ms. Sukhada Agashe, Head of Global UX Research at Airbnb Inc. and Ms. Ketakee Goje, Lead User Experience Designer at UNBOX – the GS Lab | GAVS UX Competency.
Emerging Trends in UX Research
There is a growing need for companies to stay updated on the continuously evolving UX tools and methodologies. This involves actively exploring emerging technologies, experimenting with new tools, attending conferences, and piloting innovations. Innovative research practices include adopting new tools and integrating them with existing methodologies. The integration of AI in research also requires researchers to remain proactive in identifying tools that can enhance day-to-day work processes.
Bringing UX Research into the Discovery Phase
UX research helps teams adapt and respond effectively to evolving user needs. The ultimate goal of UX research is delivering the best possible product to users. Multiple research methods can be used in the discovery phase.
- Domain understanding through conversations with subject matter experts and those familiar with the domain. Similarly, technical understanding is important as it involves comprehending backend and frontend processes. Stakeholder interviews delve into business aspects, linking research to broader organizational goals.
- User interviews, surveys, and field studies provide insights into user behavior, preferences, and challenges. Understanding user journeys, both digital and real-life, is vital for the seamless integration of products into the users’ lives.
- Collaborating with support teams to identify user issues and feedback adds depth to research insights. Documentation of findings and sharing them in stakeholder workshops is pivotal for aligning teams, communicating the research’s impact, and driving product improvements. The methodology-driven approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of user needs and effective product enhancements.
UX Research for B2B Products
UX professionals must champion the creation and communication of a compelling product narrative. This involves collaborating closely with all stakeholders and understanding the business goals, user needs, and market trends. Once the narrative is in place, it serves as a reference point for all design and development efforts, ensuring a more cohesive and user-centered product experience.
To that end, both B2B and B2C methods depend on the context and intent of the application. In B2B applications, the focus is on task completion rather than flashy design. Workflows, dashboards, and minimizing user data load are prioritized. For B2B products, understanding both the domain and the product itself is essential, including technologies used in development. Extensive knowledge transfer sessions (KT) and in-depth interviews with users and stakeholders are pivotal. Understanding user journeys within the application is critical for designing workflows that facilitate user tasks efficiently.
In contrast, B2C applications require understanding of diverse user personas, goals, and aspirations. As users in B2C can easily leave the application, focusing on user engagement and retention is essential. Analyzing competition and studying analytics can provide valuable insights for enhancing user engagement and refining the product.
There are several challenges in balancing modernization with maintaining a seamless user experience and minimizing disruptions, particularly in B2C interactions. However, research can help address them. Research should take a three-prong approach – integrate research into the process, work closely with partners, and maintain a user-centric mindset to balance modernization and user experience.
The key is to have research partners closely embedded within product teams. This enables researchers to identify gaps and opportunities where research can add value. Organizations must also consider using research as a thought partner as it helps decision-making and provides valuable insights at critical junctures. Companies should also focus on modern research methods. While the new-age research methods and tools have potential constraints, they allow for quicker insights and more agile approaches.
Importance of UX Research Post Launch
UX research for live products must focus on the importance of post-launch maintenance and iteration. Feedback loops are key, including embedding feedback links within the product experience. This includes surveys that target specific interactions to offer contextual data. Companies can also use post-task surveys to get insights without disrupting user flows. Another method is tracking customer service (CS) tickets to track user efforts to report issues. This multi-pronged approach ensures thorough maintenance. Simply put, the focus is closing the loop between design and real-world use, allowing iterative improvements based on quantitative data.
Working with Business Analysts
Business analysts handle comprehensive documentation for a product, specifying tasks, user roles, and backend and frontend functions. When UX researchers collaborate closely with BAs during client meetings, they can broaden their perspective. This direct engagement ensures a thorough understanding of customer needs and avoids miscommunication. Simultaneous creation and documentation can help meet customer needs faster in tighter timelines.
AI in UX Research
AI is poised to drive further evolution in unexpected directions. Current instances show AI’s benefits and applications, including its use in data analysis. AI’s potential shines in localization, given the global reach of products. AI’s positive potential can reshape research methods. This partnership with AI could potentially lead to entirely new research approaches, like the evolution from usability engineers to user experience researchers. While the future is uncertain, it holds exciting possibilities.
It is a continuous responsibility for all researchers to educate and raise awareness about their role, whether in consulting or in-house teams. Addressing the “my product doesn’t need research” mindset is common, but it’s crucial to recognize that user insights are valuable. Watching users interact with your product uncovers hidden issues and maintains an unbiased perspective, enhancing the overall product experience.
This blog gives a gist of the webinar. You can watch the entire webinar here.
GS Lab | GAVS periodically organizes insightful webinars with our own tech leaders, the leadership team, and industry thought leaders to explore current and emerging trends. To watch all our webinar recordings, please visit https://www.gslab.com/webinars and https://www.gavstech.com/videos/.