by Sarah Deloughery
Why User Research is so important when creating new processes, systems, and solutions and how to conduct it
In an enterprise context, the user/employee is often overlooked when creating new processes, systems, and solutions. It’s a known fact that a lot of new solutions developed are either not used as intended or not used at all. This is why having the user’s perspective represented in the design and development of new solutions becomes essential – because who wants to spend time and money on creating something wrong
But before we get into more detail, let’s start by defining what user research actually is.
User research covers a wide variety of methods used to place people (or the user) in the center of your solution. It covers methods like user interviews, observational studies, usability studies, and quantitative studies.
You can use user research to inspire your design, to evaluate your solution, understand pain points and map out processes, to measure your impact, and to increase user adoption.
The type and combination of user research you should conduct depends on your reasons for doing the research in the first place. There are many reasons for conducting user research some of which could be:
- To create designs that are truly relevant to your users to ensure high adoption
- To create designs that are easy and pleasurable to use – creating a positive experience and decrease the chances of users looking for other ways to do their job
- To understand the return on investment (ROI) of your user experience (UX) design, to show the importance and gains of User
- Research and the user experience
- To align the user’s journey with the company processes and regulations, to ensure business protocol is fulfilled.
When conducting the research, we look at things like the user’s behavior, how they perform their tasks, the speed and efficiency, how well their goals and business goals are fulfilled, and how solutions match expectations.
So how do we actually conduct User Research?
Conducting user research can vary a lot from project to project. Some questions that can help to define what kind and to which degree research should be conducted are:
- Is it a redesign of a known solution or are we planning to create something in a completely new territory?
- What is the reason for doing this specific project?
- Do we know the primary user context?
- What has already been clarified?
- Do we know who the target group is and who the user types are?
- What level of research would create valid results?
During the research, one of the first steps is planning the recruitment of users. Depending on the research results these plans might need to be evaluated. During the planning you also decide which methods to use during the research. Some methods that I often use are:
- Stakeholder Workshops
- Focus group interviews
- Diary studies
- Semi-structured user interviews
- User observation
- User testing
Normally, you would place your research at the beginning of the design phase, ensuring that we are solving the right problems before we start creating the solution, but often you can return to do more research in the design process to validate that the direction you are going is on the right path.
User testing or usability testing is used throughout the development phase both with low fidelity prototypes before development starts, at the beginning, and at the end of each development sprint. Validating and adjusting the solution throughout the process, rather than running the high risk of your findings coming too late for you to make changes to the solution.
Want to know more about user research, user experience, design thinking and digital solutions?
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is our Design Consultant and an expert on Design Thinking.
Since 2012, Sarah has worked in different areas of the design field and holds a Master’s Degree in Design Management.