User experience (UX) research is a vital component for any web or app build. UX research is often compared to physical exercise and fitness. Everyone recognises that it’s good to do it, but many people fail to make the effort to make it happen.
Why is that?
Statistics from 2017 reveal that bad usability drives customers away. The estimate is that companies lose about $243 per customer as a result of poor UX. However, every dollar invested in properly researching UX generates between $2 and $100 in return. Further to that, 72% of failed products are attributed to poor user adoption – issues which can be addressed by UX research.
So what is UX? UX encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with an entity, its products and its services. Without conducting the right research assumptions are made not only on what users actually want or need, but you end up spending a lot of time and resource on the end product without validating the build prior to commencing.
There’s always a famous story that someone has heard where a client some place in the universe went ahead and committed $200,000 to a project and decided not to spend the initial $20,000 on UX research. The $200,000 was wasted on a dud that no customer sought as useful. The $20,000 spent after the build showed that they only needed a $100,000 app. Doing the research pays and saves and here are the reasons why.
Companies think they know their users
The main barrier to the adoption of user research is lack of knowledge. The blindness to what we don’t know is often overshadowed by what we do know. UX research is also different to market research and usability testing. The main difference being UX research focuses on what people do, not what people say, through observing them in their natural contexts.
Most information that companies supply to us regarding their customers are not sufficiently detailed and we require the relevant research to make a design project the most successful it can be.
The key gap when building an app or web build is that we don’t have the data which is informed by direct observations on users with the task at hand, nor do we have information to make important design decisions. This is what is uncovered in UX research.
The risks associated with skipping UX research are too high
Assumptions on customers can be made by the client as well as the development agency having differing perspectives on who the customer is. Additionally, customers’ own perspectives on the company and what they want or need from the company may also differ. Research helps to align all these perspectives and ensure that the company will get real value out of the build. The aim is to give the customers what they want to ensure ROI is generated.
UX research helps to validate and prove that this is the case before any money is spent on a build or wasted on a feature set that is not actually required.
Additionally, some people might say that it’s hard to show tangible results from research. To combat those questions, always include getting answers to important business questions as part of the goals for your use research. Ask key stakeholders in the business and on the project what they would like to learn. Doing this provides valuable insight to important issues and research becomes more valuable as stakeholders are invested in the results.
UX Research helps you solve the right problem
When research is prioritised in your process, the focus of the build becomes much clearer and the right problem is solved quicker. This is because assumptions are validated, insights are discovered and ways to benefit end user and company are a cohesive solution. Another way to look at this is that you’re doing it right from the beginning.
This all results in a happier customer because you’re actually providing a solution to a real problem that they’re having which means more returns to your business. A great side effect of this is a more purposeful business which has real data to validate that customers are indeed happy. This data can be used effectively as a result.
Proof is in the pudding
Companies like Uber have a mantra “do it early and often”. When products are being built, usability and visual design help to shape the product’s story, the testing at different stages helps to refine the story by uncovering real user motivations, behaviours and validates the assumptions made during the creative process.
Uber’s process shows that they build products which work and really speak to their user community making them one of the fastest growing companies in the world which they heavily attribute to good UX research.
UX research is a valuable tool in any build. It clears up assumptions, provides real insight, saves time and most importantly it saves money.
It is a vital part of any app or web build and should never be overlooked as a nice-to-have because it really does make or break a project.
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Android Developer, January 12 2018, Why User Experience is important in App development?
Apiumhub, April 24 2017, What Is The Importance Of User Research In Ux Design?
Loranger, Hoa, August 10, 2014, UX Without User Research Is Not UX
Nielsen, Jakob and Norman, Don, The Definition of User Experience (UX)
Ralph, Ben, June 28 2017, UX Research: Stop the Objections!
Ross, Jim, March 7 2016, Excuses, Excuses! Why Companies Don’t Conduct User Research
Salowitz, Joe, January 30 2018, How to run UX research with no time and no money