User Research

Your constantly-updated definition of User Research and collection of topical content and literature

What is User Research?

User research is conducted so as to understand users’ characteristics, aims, and behaviors towards achieving these aims. Its purpose is to produce designs that improve their working practices and lives. User research also involves the continuous evaluation of the impact of designs on the users, not only during the design and development phase but after long-term use, too.

To conduct user research, a multidisciplinary team may employ both observational and experimental methodologies. Such a team will use these in hopes of forming a complete understanding of the users’ requirements in the context in which they might use a product or service. Most systems have a complexity that increases with the diversity of potential users, aims, and contexts of use. Because of this, a full understanding of design requirements is unlikely to be captured successfully at the initial stages. Thus, the iterative and continuous application of user research methodologies is critical to the success of the development process.

The types of user research that can be carried out include both qualitative (e.g., ethnographic studies, scenarios, personas, focus groups, prototyping) and quantitative methods (e.g., surveys, eye tracking, controlled laboratory or field testing). The chosen tools and methodologies depend on the type of system to be developed, the timeline and budget constraints, and the usage environment. User research aims to apply scientific principles not merely in order to solve design problems. It does so also in order to feed findings back to the various disciplines, so as to inform and shape current theories on underlying principles. Given that the intricacies surrounding the use context and user requirements of a product can remain hidden until far along into development, designers will tend to appreciate the time-saving—and, in some cases, project-saving—value of user research in hindsight.

Literature on User Research

Here’s the entire UX literature on User Research by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about User Research

Take a deep dive into User Research with our course User Research – Methods and Best Practices.

How do you plan to design a product or service that your users will love, if you don't know what they want in the first place? As a user experience designer, you shouldn't leave it to chance to design something outstanding; you should make the effort to understand your users and build on that knowledge from the outset. User research is the way to do this, and it can therefore be thought of as the largest part of user experience design.

In fact, user research is often the first step of a UX design process—after all, you cannot begin to design a product or service without first understanding what your users want! As you gain the skills required, and learn about the best practices in user research, you’ll get first-hand knowledge of your users and be able to design the optimal product—one that’s truly relevant for your users and, subsequently, outperforms your competitors.

This course will give you insights into the most essential qualitative research methods around and will teach you how to put them into practice in your design work. You’ll also have the opportunity to embark on three practical projects where you can apply what you’ve learned to carry out user research in the real world. You’ll learn details about how to plan user research projects and fit them into your own work processes in a way that maximizes the impact your research can have on your designs. On top of that, you’ll gain practice with different methods that will help you analyze the results of your research and communicate your findings to your clients and stakeholders—workshops, user journeys and personas, just to name a few!

By the end of the course, you’ll have not only a Course Certificate but also three case studies to add to your portfolio. And remember, a portfolio with engaging case studies is invaluable if you are looking to break into a career in UX design or user research!

We believe you should learn from the best, so we’ve gathered a team of experts to help teach this course alongside our own course instructors. That means you’ll meet a new instructor in each of the lessons on research methods who is an expert in their field—we hope you enjoy what they have in store for you!

All Literature

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