How to quickly and easily run user research

6 min read Optimal Workshop

We all know that robust user research is key when it comes to creating human-centred, intuitive products that deliver outstanding user experiences.

But we also know that many of us (especially those in marketing and design) are guilty of not doing research as often as we should – or even not at all. Often, it’s considered expensive and time consuming. However, with the right user research tools, research can start almost immediately, and we can analyze data in days, not weeks). 

All of this to say, you can work with insights that are up to date and can help you inform strong product design at any stage of the product life cycle.

Why is UX research important?

Right up front, it’s worth stating that you are not your user

With all the will in the world your product (or website or mobile app) may work perfectly and be as intuitive as possible. But, if it is only built on information from your internal organizational perspective and applied with all of your knowledge and experience, it may not measure up in the eye of your user. Often, organizations make major design decisions without fully considering their users. User research backs up decisions with data, helping to make sure that design decisions are smart decisions. 

User experience (UX) research focuses your design on understanding your user expectations, behaviors, needs and motivations. This is done through methodical and investigative approaches. Through data analysis, insights can be used to ensure that all product design decisions benefit the user. It’s all about helping you to gain insights and knowledge that may not be as apparent from the inside. 

User research is an essential part of creating, building and maintaining great products. Providing invaluable insights that inform from the ground up. Helping to structure the information architecture and the underlying performance of your product.

User research throughout design, development and further into the lifecycle of your product will mean less uncertainty and risk. All good things when creating a product that ultimately is intended to generate conversions. UX is at the heart of all we design and create. User research is crucial to creating human-centred design. Creating and developing digital solutions that answer users’ needs.

Building better products means a better user experience and ultimately higher retention and conversion rates.  What’s better than a single user experience? A customer that comes back again and again. 

This can sound like a lot of work, but with the right type of user research it can take days, not weeks, to draw out useful and actionable insights.

Getting started with user research needn’t be expensive, time consuming or only done at the start of a project. Let’s look at when research may be of most benefit. If you need a little help selling user research to your broader stakeholders, check out our article. 

Discover navigation issues on your website

One type of research that should be done regularly is testing how users navigate your website. Navigation issues on your website can lead to missed opportunities and lower conversion rates. 

Using a tree testing tool like Treejack, at any point in your website lifecycle, allows you to work ‘backwards’ and gain a clearer understanding of where users are getting lost, or uncertain of the next step. Invaluable insights into how your website is working currently and where updates and repairs or reorganising can lead to an overall better product and UX. 

This type of research can be done at any point and can be particularly useful to identify how users interact with your homepage. Over 80% of users will know within seconds if they will stay on your website, they need to be easily guided to complete tasks. Don’t lose them at the first look.

Build a new and effective mobile app

A mobile app answers something that a website can’t or can’t do as efficiently. This could be booking hair appointments, updating membership loyalty points, or checking the weather.

By downloading an app a user wants quick, simple and easy interaction and access to information. While all of this information may be available on your website it may not be as readily found or easily personalized. In some cases, with personalized information (membership numbers or credit card details) this can not be held safely on websites or easily stored and accessed.

User research through first-click testing with a tool like Chalkmark can inform the usability of the mobile app interface. First-click testing on mobile apps allows you to rapidly test ideas and ensure your design supports user goals before you invest time and money in further design work and development.

Continued user research throughout the life of the app and making updates that improve the interaction will mean a long term life of your app.

Learn how people use your product

Undertaking usability testing at any stage can benchmark how your product is currently being used. Providing insights into how it can be improved, reordered or information sorted better. 

Here are a few key user research tools that can be picked up and used quickly and with a small investment, meaning they can be done regularly.

  • Card sorting is a great tool for investigating how users intuitively sort information. Find out how they would like to see information sorted that would make the experience easier and more intuitively. You can get started with OptimalSort now and have data and insights back in days, not weeks.
  • Tree testing is an investigative tool which follows where users go when they arrive at your website. Highlighting where they get lost and where they get stuck. All valuable information when relying on responsiveness and conversion. Getting started with Treejack is simple and quick, allowing data driven results to inform decisions for a new or existing website.
  • First-click testing looks at where users go first. Where do they click on your website or your mobile app? This information will highlight how users view the interface and what they are drawn to first. Allowing your design to be influenced by intuitive behaviour and ultimately driving usability. Chalkmark is a tool which you can quickly and easily get started with, allowing your product to be intuitive from the start, or enhanced with data driven insights.

Build better products

Learning how your product usability, backed with data and insights means that product design can be more intuitive, human-centred and ensure a more positive end user experience. Working with data driven insights also helps stakeholders to understand why design may be challenged, updated or changed.

All of this needn’t be at the high cost of time, energy and delay. These tools are all readily available and can be implemented in days, not weeks. They are easy to use, and data can be easily digested and transformed into real changes.