“Customers can’t always tell you what they want, but they can always tell you what’s wrong” – Carly Fiorina.
In an industry where design is paramount, developing a product requires an in-depth understanding of the audience.
Without user experience or UX research, founders and start-ups shoot aimlessly to win the customer’s trust. They have no idea of their target audience, and even if they have the slightest notion, they’re clueless about approaching them.
That’s where UX research, also called design research focuses on.
According to a study, the more a company spent on UX research, the more their sales and the higher was their customer retention.
So, what is UX research?
By definition, UX research is all about putting a design prototype in front of the customers and analyzing how they interact with the design. It helps in validating the design process and creating a layout that resonates with the target audience.
The design mantra which works in UX is that some UX research is always better than none. The need of the hour is carrying out in-depth UX research in the right way using professional guides like Maze’s guide to UX research. From UX research methods to a research plan, the guide entails everything about design research under one roof.
4 Ways UX Research Boosts business
We’ve outlined four ways how UX research can significantly increase your business’s sales and revenue.
Creates relevant designs
The fundamental reason for doing UX research is to understand the customers who will use the design. A design, which doesn’t resonate with the target audience is less likely to become successful.
Let’s understand it using an example.
In 2005, Samsung wanted to introduce a modern TV to the world using their breakthrough technology. They conducted user studies, customer interviews, and UX research. The company learned that for most people, a TV is a piece of furniture and not electronics. As it remains shut for most of the time, they prefer furniture that doesn’t eat up the living space, irrespective of the technology. So, rather than proudly displaying their innovative technology, Samsung hid it as much as possible and created what we today know as a flat-screen TV. This useful insight brought about a paradigm shift in Samsung’s design strategy, and since then, there is no looking back.
User research made Samsung change its design strategy completely, thereby creating a relevant product.
Another thing that Samsung did right was to place this research at the beginning of the project to ensure the process is heading in the right direction. To ensure your ideas continue to excite the customers, validate your ideas on a continuous basis.
Additional tip: User experience research and design places your customer at the center of the design process, resulting in products that customers love.
Uncovers customer’s pain points and changing habits
For designing products based on facts, businesses require in-depth design research because the end-goal is to produce products that your customers are going to use.
With customer’s habits in flux due to ongoing economic conditions, creating a design based on mere assumptions can cost you your business.
This is where UX analysis comes to your rescue.
Using UX research, gain insights on the changing customer’s habit and create services or products that address those insights.
For example, suppose you’re a local salon, and your customers are always inquiring about how your salon is dealing with COVID-19 and the steps you have taken. Investing in user experience research will help in understanding the changing habits. It will address questions such as, are customers visiting salons less often? Are they avoiding a particular area? How can you encourage customers to return to the salon?
Customers are good at describing their problems and equally bad at providing the best solution. Observing and talking to real users through interviews and prototyping results in product innovation. It allows companies to test new product ideas and services capable of addressing the frustration of the customers.
If we go back to the salon example, imagine starting a spa service without conducting UX research. Everyone simply loves spa, right?
That’s an assumption. What if you spent thousands of dollars setting up a spa service only to shut it down as you cannot justify its continuation?
But, what if UX research was conducted?
Through interviews, surveys, observation, and other techniques, the UX team found that customers like listening to music or watching television during their salon services. The UX team’s insight leads to investment in music players, sound systems, and television for the salon.
You ultimately address the customers’ pain points and create a loyal base where customers are less likely to jump to another brand.
Additional tip: User experience research helps in designing products based on facts and not assumptions.
Reduces costs down the line
The best companies work in tandem with their users to find solutions to their needs and understand their requirements. It helps in creating products or services, which resonates with the target audience.
Companies have started to realize that preventing usability issues at the design phase is far less expensive than fixing them later. Many businesses follow the $1:$10:$100 thumb rule for usability. According to the rule, resolving UX issues in the design stage costs ten times less than the development phase’s errors. The number shoots up to 100 times if the errors are fixed after the release.
This is why UX research is essential, and companies looking to grow cannot afford to overlook it.
Several years ago, Microsoft Word’s print merge feature resulted in support calls approximating 45 minutes resulting in significant customer support calls. With the proper UX research, usability testing, and other research methods, Microsoft reduced both the length and number of support calls in their next release.
When the design is not a part of the UX research, it could lead to large-scale developmental changes to incorporate customer feedback. The process is time-consuming as well as costly. By conducting proper and thorough UX research, your developers provide a holistic estimate for the time and costs required for project completion. It prevents nasty cost surprises at the later stages.
Additional tip: “If you think the cost of good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design”- Ralf Speth. Companies that overlook UX research’s importance trigger their downfall as their products are not backed by customers’ requirements.
Identifies early adopters
According to research, 28% of Americans are strong early adopters of technology. Whether self-identified or identified through market survey, early adopters are of prime importance for new product innovation and design. These are uses who try on the products early on and influence their network to try it. How you develop, sell, and communicate to this segment is entirely different from how you interact with customers further down the product adopter curve.
Identifying early adopters could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful product.
It’s imperative to find the right early adopters. And this is where UX research comes into the picture.
User research uncovers people who can provide insightful contextual feedback on your product/service. They are critical for product innovation because they spend quite a lot of time thinking about what’s working, what’s not, and what changes they like to see in the product.
Additional tip: Early adopters usually have a high social status and make more reasoned decisions making them an essential part of the user research.
Why You Should Not Compromise on UX Research?
During the early design phase of your product, UX research is the building blocks due to a bouquet of reasons including,
- It reduces the learning curve of the product by increasing its usability.
- You understand the return on investment (ROI) of your UX design.
- You learn about competitor’s products.
- It lets you validate your hypothesis.
- Creates designs that are easy to use.
Today, skipping UX research is out of the question because it’s the initial stage of your product design cycle. All the hard work and money invested in designing a product go down the drain if customers don’t want to use your product. In short, it precedes the business strategy and helps to eliminate all the assumptions.
UX research takes knowledge of the customers to the next level.
You can and should perform user research at all design stages.
- Before the designing phase – understand the need of the target audience.
- During the development phase – ensure the user experience is on the right track.
- After the release of the product – measure the effectiveness of the design.
User research is something that comes before strategy, and it helps in eliminating assumptions from the processes. It allows you to efficiently move new products to the market, make changes, and iterate on the design as per changing customer behavior.
Using the UX experience insights, businesses understand their customers and offer solutions that help them wade even through uncertain and challenging times.