A question we get asked a lot is ‘what is the difference between user research and user experience (UX)?’
User research is focused on the user, what their behaviour, needs and motivations are, typically using qualitative methods such as observation and interviews. These interview are typically open, looking to find out how the individual is behaving, what decisions they are making and what is influencing their behaviour and thought processes.
User research ultimately explores and helps identify the user’s ‘problem’. What is it that users need? What are they struggling with? How do they currently solve the problem? What tools do they currently use?
These insights help set the design team up for ideation for insightful and evidence-based innovation. The outputs of the user research are there to create empathy and enabling the client’s team, to step into the shoes of other people.
The outputs of user research are typically personas with clear user needs that are based on evidence and a clear user problem that can lead to ideation. Designs that lead on from user research, are more likely to be relevant and easy-to-use.
User Experience Research
User experience (UX) is different from user research as it focuses on how the user interacts with the product or service, from the very beginning of the user journey, right the very end. User experience focuses on the architecture, interaction design and usability. Typically using tools such as wireframes, mock-ups, working prototypes and methods such as card-sorting, tree tests and A/B testing, which may be used in focus groups, interviews or remotely.
The aim of UX is to understand the entire user journey and the design of the service or digital product. What works well? What confuses users? How long is the task taking? Does the design help the navigation of the product?
When to Use User Research or UX Research?
User research is completed at the very start – to really understand people and to help businesses listen to their customers. User research provides insights about the user needs, decision-making processes and behaviours.
User experience comes later down the line, usually once mock-ups, wireframes and prototypes are available. User experience provides insights on the design of the service or product.
To put it in context of the Double Diamond:
User research is in the ‘Discover’ phase with ideation following on in the ‘Define’ stage. User experience research occurs in the ‘Develop’ and ‘Deliver’ phases, where potential solutions are developed and designed.
At Snap Out, we can provide user research and user experience research for effective digital product development. Let’s talk.
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