Why You Should Invest in User Research

people looking at photos of other people

A little secret to making your business a success: understand your users. User-based research is a goldmine for understanding how your business is doing and what trajectory your business is moving towards. Besides this, it is great data to have on hand if you want to grow your business. Over the years the significance of user experience (UX) has been realized by marketing departments, but it’s still vitally underappreciated. Only 55% of companies are conducting any user experience testing. Conducting real user testing gives you tangible data to be used to help your business expand. User research opens up your business to a completely new perspective that you are missing as the owner: the customer. 

As the owner of your business, you learn the importance of being humble. Regardless of how much blood, sweat, and tears you have put into your business to make it succeed, there is always something new to know, and there is nobody better to ask than the people that keep your business alive. Your customers have certain quirks and interests. There’s a reason they love your product or service so much. You need to understand the nuance of what attracts them to your product in the first place, and what keeps them coming back for more. That is where user research comes in.

We will explore the significance the user experience can have on you and your business practices by defining just what it is, why people fail to use UX research, and how you can use UX research to help guide your business to a prosperous new year. 

Now, What is User Experience? 

User experience can be the equivalent of gold for those working in design strategy. Knowing how and why your users interact with your website is paramount to building a user base that will last and will recommend you to their friends and family. The rewards you get from user research can save your business and turn you into a success. 

UX can be particularly helpful if you are starting a new business or testing out a new product. There is a lot of justified uncertainty when investing in something new. As the owner, you want your product to do great, but you need consumers to help push you and your products in the right direction. In our age of data-driven marketing—further propelled through frictionless communication via the internet—more products and companies are switching to ecommerce because of how intuitive it is these days to purchase items from the web. And with 2020’s COVID pandemic, ecommerce sales have exploded to an unprecedented number never before seen, and it is predicted that ecommerce sales will only continue to jump. 

User research has exploded because of this. As a crucial part of understanding success in ecommerce, UX helps businesses to assess their products before they have invested too much into what might be an unsuccessful venture. User research is the process of getting qualitative and quantitative data about digital product users and their usage of a site. Valuable feedback on your site and your products helps soothe the anxiety that comes with running a business because it gives you some type of foresight on what your business should do next to succeed. Knowing what the customer thinks about your product and your content allows you to improve, and as a business in an ever-changing world, you will always need to improve to adjust to the market. 

woman testing a website

A Big User Research Misconception to Remember

Of course, there are UX myths that need to be busted. These misconceptions can be misleading. Not only that, but they can be potentially damaging to your business. 

Many mistake user research for targeting a specific audience or demographic. Instead, user research is a broader task about finding out details of the entire experience. It is not about the specificities of your users. On the contrary, it is about your website, to see how your product or website can be enjoyed and trusted by people, regardless of their backgrounds. You want your users to come from all walks of life because this type of inclusivity will help your business to grow. If your user research is targeting only a specific audience or demographic, you are at risk of not just shutting out a huge pool of potential customers. You can also be accused of pandering, and if a customer publicly denounces your business this way, it can spread like wildfire and can spell ruin for your business.

But fortunately, many proper techniques of UX don’t rely on cheap tricks or pandering to a specific audience. When you focus on the product and the content of your website instead, you can prevent the risk of pandering. The best results you can get out of user research are about what your users think about your product because that is what the UX is about: how they interact with your product, and what their thoughts are about it. 

Why People Fail to Conduct User Research 

But misconceptions are not the only reason people don’t conduct research. As someone running a business, it’s important to keep these in mind even if you are planning on utilizing UX because these reasons are signs of poor business leadership. As a business leader, you want to be self-aware and recognize if you have fallen into any of these mindsets before, because they can end up damaging the business. Many companies decide not to research because of these reasons:

They Think They Already Know Their Users

  • As a business leader, you need to be constantly checking yourself. Humility goes a long way in all aspects of life, including business. User research can help you to see your business from a new perspective. Many companies think they know their users well enough that doing user research won’t be necessary. But of course, this is simply illogical. The market is in a constant state of flux, always evolving along with the world at large. Trends come and go, and as a business, you need to be just as flexible. Believing that you know your users is a short-sighted view that won’t catch current problems. In a way, it’s a type of false security, one that will catch you off guard. 

Users Don’t Know What They Want (and Therefore User Research is Worthless)

  • You can never look down on the customer. Without them, you don’t have traction or financial liquidity. Businesses sometimes have the misconception that users won’t know what they want from a site. But this is a misconception because as a designer of a site you do redirect your users and show them products, but there is a reason they initially clicked on your website. That curiosity comes from them alone, and knowing what about your website sparked their curiosity is incredibly valuable information to have at your disposal. You’re not asking people to build your app for you, you’re gauging their experience via user research to learn how you can improve it through your choices.
man's hands typing on a laptop and holding a mobile phone on top of a table

The Benefits 

The results of good UX research offers benefits that cannot be ignored. Your users are a valuable resource when it comes to business analysis, and these benefits can help long into the future:

  • See Users in Action

When you run a business, you are only seeing one side of the equation. Designers may not always use the sites they design and can fall out of touch with what normal people want. By seeing how customers engage with the site, you can understand the common user experience. User research is all about comprehending how the consumer felt while using your sight. These are the people who want to spend money on you and your site, what about their experience did they enjoy, and more importantly, what did they not enjoy? Even if you are an expert, remember to stay humble, because even if you’ve looked over the design of your website a hundred times over, you can always miss something that would help to improve the experience.     Having a fresh pair of eyes to look over your site can help you notice things you would have never caught as a designer—and not a user—of the site. User research gives you a new perspective of your business. 

  • Check Personas For Accuracy

User experience is rooted in the psychology of how users interact with an app. Knowing the answer to why somebody clicked on your website is the equivalent of gold for anybody in marketing. This is your opportunity to check the psychology of your users, to see exactly what works on your site and what does not. Before you start with the methods on UX, it’s important to slowly look over your website and ask yourself specific questions about your site. Outline your website and have your user research focus on how the users navigate the site. Are they more inclined to focus on one product page more than another? Did they come to your site with a particular product in mind, and did they end up buying the product? Was it easy to use your site? This is prime time to use user research to see just how easy it is to navigate your site. 

Usually, every $1 invested in UX results in a return between $2 and $100. These are numbers you can’t ignore. 

Increase Chances for Success

With user experience testing, you:

  • Create designs that help users complete tasks effortlessly
  • Create products that are enjoyable to use
  • Identify early adopters
  • Understand how your product compares to the competition
  • Reduce development expenses

User research can help your business at every step of the way. Regardless of whether you are testing out a new product or have had loyal customers for many years, there is always something new to learn from UX.

user research group

URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-holding-their-phones-3184435/

Alt text: user research group

File name: user-research-group

The Methods

Contextual Observation

  • Contextual observation is a directly insightful method that actively observes and records a user’s experience with the platform. As you might guess from the title, you just watch the user navigate your website. This is a great opportunity—as mentioned before—to see how well designed your website is. As a designer, you look at the same website day after day, and there will come a point when inevitably you overlook something. This is why it’s important to have user research. You need to have someone new interact with your site. You get to see directly how people are using your site.

Surveying, Interviews, and Focus Groups

  • These are the methods you’re likely already familiar with and are used outside of ecommerce for all types of businesses. You can ask users what their frustrations are with your site, and it allows them to be direct and honest with you, which is necessary when it comes to making long-term improvements to your business. They can potentially offer suggestions for how you can improve

Process Mapping

  • Process mapping combines contextual observation and interviews into one user research experiment. It’s intuitive and considering that if the user has frustration with your site, you will receive an honest reaction. Remember, you want your users to be as honest as possible, no holds back. This is how you make your business work: by taking criticism and improving. You can directly map how users are interacting and talk them through their suggestions, workshopping how your site could be improved, and how they could have a better experience on your site. 

Is It Necessary?

Yes, user research isn’t inherently necessary for company success, but it’s an invaluable tool that can only help you access users and their needs. There is always room for improvement, and getting fresh new perspectives on your ecommerce business is how you discover new growth opportunities. Even the little things that you wouldn’t notice as a design, like the loading speeds, are incredibly important and are a direct factor for Google ranking. 

Don’t Rely on Best Practices

You have unique content. This is what brings users to your website, and is one of the best ways to get loyal customers. User research is based on those specific interactions with your site. Industry best practices are good guidelines but fail to account for the huge breadth of user bases and their unique experiences with your product. Every user’s experience with your site is a little bit different. You never want to assume all consumers are the same. 

Create Better Apps for Your Users

All in all, user research is a great tool for seeing how your users interact with your products and maintaining their engagement going forward. It’s a great way to see how you can improve your business, and a great way to see what you are doing well. Creating the best website is a challenge, something that requires the input of many perspectives. User research gives just another voice to improve your business.