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That’s a wrap! In this lesson, we got an overview of the user research process, from defining your problem space and research goals, to sharing your results in a research report. We covered a sampling of different research methods and when and why you might want to mix different methods.

Here’s a summary of what we’ve covered:

  • Generative user research, also known as exploratory, discovery, or foundational research, occurs during the earlier stages of product development and focuses on discovering the motivations and pain points experienced by users. These methods include interviews, surveys, diary studies, and ethnography and field studies.
  • One of the first steps of product development is defining the problem space. When selecting a topic for user research, consider what you’re trying to learn, your research goal and research questions, which methods might help you answer your questions, and who you want to study or include.
  • Quantitative research methods are those that collect numerically measurable data. These methods, including surveys, card sorting, and web analytics, allow UX professionals to discover broad patterns, compare different designs and their trade-offs, and tie their work back to company goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Qualitative research methods, such as interviews, focus groups, diary studies, ethnography and field studies, and contextual inquiry, examine why users behave the way they do in depth, and focus on the motivations and thought processes behind a user’s experience.
  • Attitudinal research methods focus on self-reported thoughts, beliefs, and needs from users, or put simply, what users say, rather than what they do, and include interviews, focus groups, diary studies, and surveys.
  • Behavioral research methods directly observe user behavior, and include ethnography and field studies, web analytics, tree testing, and user testing.
  • Good user research works with mixed methods to collect insights about both the bigger picture and the details. Consider combining qualitative methods with quantitative methods, and attitudinal methods with behavioral methods.
  • The first step in the research process is always to write a research plan, which should include background information, your research goal and questions, research methods and protocols, target participants, recruitment strategies, timeline, any ethical considerations, and research materials to be created.
  • Considering diversity and inclusion early in the research process will lead to more inclusive designs and products down the line. Consider various users who may use the product and how and when they can be involved in the design process.
  • Once you’ve analyzed your research, you’re ready to share it in a research report of your findings and recommendations. Think about the audience you’re presenting to and what kind of format and messaging is likely to resonate with them.

Next, we’ll be exploring several user research methods—user interviews, user surveys, and card sorting—in more depth.

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