The workflow process of a UX research study

An overview of the stages carried out in a research project. A great product that does not meet the user's needs is not a great product. Research gives us a deep understanding of those needs, in addition to finding pain points and opportunities that we can turn into actionable insights and better decision making. Until we know this valuable data, we are not going to offer a great user experience. To ensure product success, research can be done at any point in the design cycle: Discovery: Empathize and observe the potential audience to study behaviors, attitudes, mental models, expectations, feelings, etc Explore: Analyze data to find patterns, gain insights, and raise the problems to explore all possible solutions Test: Validate and test solutions from our users for useful feedback Post-launch: Active listening to know how our product works in real life and iterate it So, how can we successfully undertake a research study to gain valuable insights? In this article, we will learn the step-by-step workflow process of a UX research study. Having clear, differentiated steps for each stage of a research study allows us to optimize our workflow in an operational way. A deeper understanding of the UX research process helps us plan, collect, analyze and report actionable data to stakeholders in a more efficient and effective way. How to approach a UX research study The following UX research process is considered a linear process that allows us to share best practices among teams and work more smoothly. Basically, there are five phases with different steps that we are going to review below: Workflow process of a UX research project1. Having a kick-off meeting We organize a meeting where the team agrees on the purpose of the research study and capture it in a brief. There are some essential questions to address with the stakeholders as a first approach during this stage: What are we trying to discover or solve? What do we want to learn? How will it be approached? Who are the most suitable participants for it? It is important to provide all the necessary information so that we can start planning it. 2. Preparing the study In this phase, it is time to order, shape and delve into all the information agreed at the kick-off meeting. We need to plan our research to successfully tackle it. Planning a research study requires the following steps: Understand the background and the previous data, if any Know what our research purpose or problem statement is Define a clear understanding of our research objectives Ask research questions that we need to give an answer to Identify appropriate research methods for each objective Define the participant criteria, timing, and budget Once the research study was planned, we must get down to work to: Write the screener survey to start recruiting participants and schedule the session with them Prepare logistics and operations around session setup, such as equipment, GDPR consent sheet, location, staff in charge, etc Create the necessary materials, such as tasks, scenarios, discussion guides, etc Do a pilot study with someone in the target group or colleagues to identify if we are asking the right questions and using the correct methods. This will keep us safe, resolve unforeseen problems, and test feasibility before running a larger study. Assume that a research study is somewhat complex and generally many inconveniences arise during it, such as participants' absence, failed expectations, very tight deadlines, etc. Do not worry, this is normal. Despite all that, planning the research study minimizes risks and puts a clear focus on your goals. 3. Running the study The data is generated by running the research study. The ​number of participants​ will depend on the research method used: 20 participants for quantitative studies​ ​(aiming statistics not insights)​ 15 participants for card sorting 39 participants minimum for heatmaps and A/B testing 5 participants for 1:1 interviews or usability testing We must keep in mind that once we identify common patterns, there is no point in continuing because every time we are going to learn less and less, so time and money will be lost. The steps that we must take into account to run the study are the following: Take time when we first connect to ask the participant about their day and try to break the ice Make the participant feel welcome in a pleasant and unhurried environment Reward the participant with an incentive for their time spent before starting, either with money or any benefit such as gift card, discount voucher, etc Inform the participant about the study objective and sign the consent with GDPR in accordance with data protection Let participants know that their skills are not being evaluated or judged and that we want honest feedback about what they think and feel during the study to evaluate the product and service Have a note-taker or record to keep the session running smoothly as we moderate the study, making sure probl

The workflow process of a UX research study
An overview of the stages carried out in a research project. A great product that does not meet the user's needs is not a great product. Research gives us a deep understanding of those needs, in addition to finding pain points and opportunities that we can turn into actionable insights and better decision making. Until we know this valuable data, we are not going to offer a great user experience. To ensure product success, research can be done at any point in the design cycle: Discovery: Empathize and observe the potential audience to study behaviors, attitudes, mental models, expectations, feelings, etc Explore: Analyze data to find patterns, gain insights, and raise the problems to explore all possible solutions Test: Validate and test solutions from our users for useful feedback Post-launch: Active listening to know how our product works in real life and iterate it So, how can we successfully undertake a research study to gain valuable insights? In this article, we will learn the step-by-step workflow process of a UX research study. Having clear, differentiated steps for each stage of a research study allows us to optimize our workflow in an operational way. A deeper understanding of the UX research process helps us plan, collect, analyze and report actionable data to stakeholders in a more efficient and effective way. How to approach a UX research study The following UX research process is considered a linear process that allows us to share best practices among teams and work more smoothly. Basically, there are five phases with different steps that we are going to review below: Workflow process of a UX research project1. Having a kick-off meeting We organize a meeting where the team agrees on the purpose of the research study and capture it in a brief. There are some essential questions to address with the stakeholders as a first approach during this stage: What are we trying to discover or solve? What do we want to learn? How will it be approached? Who are the most suitable participants for it? It is important to provide all the necessary information so that we can start planning it. 2. Preparing the study In this phase, it is time to order, shape and delve into all the information agreed at the kick-off meeting. We need to plan our research to successfully tackle it. Planning a research study requires the following steps: Understand the background and the previous data, if any Know what our research purpose or problem statement is Define a clear understanding of our research objectives Ask research questions that we need to give an answer to Identify appropriate research methods for each objective Define the participant criteria, timing, and budget Once the research study was planned, we must get down to work to: Write the screener survey to start recruiting participants and schedule the session with them Prepare logistics and operations around session setup, such as equipment, GDPR consent sheet, location, staff in charge, etc Create the necessary materials, such as tasks, scenarios, discussion guides, etc Do a pilot study with someone in the target group or colleagues to identify if we are asking the right questions and using the correct methods. This will keep us safe, resolve unforeseen problems, and test feasibility before running a larger study. Assume that a research study is somewhat complex and generally many inconveniences arise during it, such as participants' absence, failed expectations, very tight deadlines, etc. Do not worry, this is normal. Despite all that, planning the research study minimizes risks and puts a clear focus on your goals. 3. Running the study The data is generated by running the research study. The ​number of participants​ will depend on the research method used: 20 participants for quantitative studies​ ​(aiming statistics not insights)​ 15 participants for card sorting 39 participants minimum for heatmaps and A/B testing 5 participants for 1:1 interviews or usability testing We must keep in mind that once we identify common patterns, there is no point in continuing because every time we are going to learn less and less, so time and money will be lost. The steps that we must take into account to run the study are the following: Take time when we first connect to ask the participant about their day and try to break the ice Make the participant feel welcome in a pleasant and unhurried environment Reward the participant with an incentive for their time spent before starting, either with money or any benefit such as gift card, discount voucher, etc Inform the participant about the study objective and sign the consent with GDPR in accordance with data protection Let participants know that their skills are not being evaluated or judged and that we want honest feedback about what they think and feel during the study to evaluate the product and service Have a note-taker or record to keep the session running smoothly as we moderate the study, making sure problems are being communicated appropriately Keep in mind that, as moderators, we must observe and interrupt as little as possible by only channeling the conversation when necessary 4. Analyzing data Once the study has been performed, it is time to start analyzing row data. Let’s not be overwhelmed with the huge amount of data to interpret, as there are some techniques that help us do this. We begin to uncover the answers to our research questions. To do this, we use the affinity map technique which allows us to identify clusters in multiple ways, such as behaviors, feelings, expectations, etc. We define the cluster criteria according to the nature of the study. Once the data was clustered by affinity categories, let’s start discarding the non-relevant information. Clusters should be named to describe how they are related. Also evaluate each cluster beginning to identify common patterns among participants. These patterns must be ensured by describing: The WHY if we conducted a discovery or exploration study The CAUSE & IMPACT if we conducted a usability test These patterns help us turn data into actionable insights with recommendations for decision making. 5. Debriefing & wrapping up A debrief session is a discussion with all observed and stakeholders to report what we learned throughout the study. Reporting is creating something that is unbiased and easy for stakeholders to understand the research impact. There are powerful ways to communicate the UX research knowledge but the most used is a workshop with stakeholders. Some parameters used to report findings obtained are the following: Build a storytelling narrative around the findings adding video clips, screenshots and flowcharts to bring research insights to real life Add some user quotes about something valuable that participants said in their own words can be very powerful Be precise in communicating what stakeholders expected to know and not allow them to interpret anything Organize insights and prioritize the ‘actionable immediately’ according to the impact on user and business Bring core insights to the center of the conversation and discuss with stakeholders for a better adoption Provide recommendations on how to fix the problems to make appropriate decisions Some of these parameters can be worked in micro co-creation sessions, participating all together in brainstorming with stakeholders. A process like this is the glue that holds things together by ensuring that steps are completed in an organized way. It also offers a training tool for juniors, which allows them to learn with a solid structure. It also works as an alignment process for teams into large organizations and prevents repeated mistakes. Remember, research can be done at any point in the design cycle, so it is very important to have a well-defined UX research process in our organization to make everything easier. You can follow me on LinkedIn. The workflow process of a UX research study was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.