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User Experience (UX) research | Ultimate Beginners Guide

User experience (UX) research is essential for improving product design. Find out everything you need to know to get started with UX research.

Adam R.
March 22, 2023

User Experience (UX) research | Ultimate Beginners Guide

User Experience (UX) research

When it comes to customer-focused industry, understanding users how users interact with products is a necessity. Through data-driven study and qualitative research, marketers and product leaders can gather new insights into how their target audiences use their product or service.This process is known as User Experience or UX research.

Involving key audiences in the design process creates numerous benefits: building brand resonance, furthering consumer engagement, and improving the customer journey. Knowing how to screen insights from customer surveys enables better business decision making.

Let’s get started.

What is UX Research?

User experience research looks at how end users interact with any given product. Taking a metaphorical microscope up to our user’s behavior, looking at how they: view a product, purchase a product, consume a product, or navigate a product - in the case of digital software.

User experience research - also known as design research - seeks to identify and verify the assumptions we make about how users interact with our product.

Why is UX research important?

User experience research attempts to define the customer journey; that is, the path that users take when navigating your product or software. Breaking up the journey into distinct processes enables businesses to pinpoint moments of pain and dysfunction. Thereby these kinks in our work can be effectively identified and ironed out; without wasting time and money trying to overhaul the entire system.

One of the key benefits of user experience research is the way in which users naturally identify stress points in your customer journey. In management, we can sometimes grow blind to our own inefficiencies and misgivings; whereas our customers are able to view our processes more critically. 

Customers are quick to share their frustration with a product - far more so than they would their praise. Satisfying the areas where customers are most aggrieved with your product is a great way to win favor with your clients; ultimately developing a better product in the process.

Importance of UX research

UX Research methods

Familiarizing yourself with the many ways researchers gather UX data will help streamline your market research process. 


Passively studying and actively observing customers as they interact with your product. The first step researchers should take when looking at the customer experience is to observe your customers; picking up on subtle tics that may indicate a person is feeling stress, or frustration. 

While observing customers may seem simple enough; in reality, researchers go to great lengths to design studies meant to overcome their own unconscious biases. Preconceived notions about certain demographics or behaviors may preclude researchers to misjudge a situation. Therefore, they train themselves to become aware of where their biases come from - creating studies that minimize the negative impact they have on a study.


Similar to observing our customers, understanding them takes us one step further to knowing them. While we can naturally empathize with those we spend time with - our friends, family, and coworkers - it is sometimes a struggle to put ourselves in the shoes of a customer; someone who has no familiarity with our product, and may struggle to grasp the concepts involved.

Developing a customer profile is one way that business researchers bridge the gap between how corporations perceive the average customer to be - and what that customer actually looks like. Customer profiles look at painting customers with broad brushstrokes, synthesizing a mock customer using details like: demographics, customer beliefs, income, hobbies, and other defining characteristics.

Another thing to note when trying to connect with your customers: avoid jargon. Using technical and unfamiliar lingo is one of the quickest ways to confuse customers and muddy your messaging. Use clear, concise language wherever possible.


Surveys are one of the most versatile tools in a researcher’s arsenal. These informal tests are a cheap and effective way that businesses gather customer data in bulk. If you look hard enough, you’ll find that you are asked to fill out surveys on a daily basis, every time you: open an app, purchase a product (on the receipt), or read an email - companies want to hear from you.

The hallmarks of a good survey include: A) a focus on a narrow and easily identifiable topic B) a reasonable number of concise and direct questions. Surveys that are lengthy and try to tackle multiple distinct topics at once will muddy your data, and stifle your analysis; too many questions and customers will refuse to answer the survey or will fall off part way through.

Usability Tests

Usability tests are those that look at specific elements of the product or application, and attempt to define identifiable problems that can be resolved. It is a method that can be used to determine how easily a brand new customer can navigate a website they are totally unfamiliar with. These tests can range in scope from asking a user to purchase a product to inviting users to trial new features for the website itself.

Usability tests always collect direct feedback from the participants of the test. This is done to remove researcher bias and allow for purer results. Real-time feedback platforms enable businesses to receive the results of their customer experience surveys instantly - as soon as the users complete their test.

One-on-One Interviews

The most intimate form of user testing involves sitting users down for detailed interviews. These interviews are designed to pull qualitative data from a select number of users. Researchers offer up questions about the different interactions a user has with their product, ask about any issues they may have encountered during the process, and train them on certain topics where their knowledge may have been lacking.

While personal interviews are one of the most effective forms of gathering quality research data - they are also one of the most expensive and time-consuming to carry out. Each interview can take anywhere from 30 minutes to multiple hours to complete. Additionally, every interview requires the supervision of at least one researcher - severely limiting the speed at which interviews can be completed. 

A/B Split Tests

A/B testing involves trialing two or more different elements of a design and seeing which one audiences prefer. This type of testing is quick, simple, and often delivers immediate returns.

Imagine a case where a work-from-home designer is in need of a second opinion on which color palette best suits the new logo he is working on. Quickly uploading his two competing color schemes to an A/B testing website, he is able to receive feedback from a hundred online panelists within a half hour; the panelists pick their favorite, leave their comments, and critique - and the tie has been broken.

A/B Split Tests

Steps to conduct UX research

The first step to successfully planning a UX research study is to come up with a vision. Every product or service has flaws & imperfections that can be improved upon; identifying which of those inefficiencies needs to be prioritized provides a good jumping off point. Keep in mind that what you’d like to achieve - and what you can realistically accomplish - are not always the same.

  1. Identify

Identify the core elements of your research design:

  • Target Audience
  • Research Objectives
  • Testing Budget
  1. Hypothesis

Develop a clear hypothesis - a statement about what you believe you think you know about your customers/users.

  1. Develop

Develop a testing strategy. Create a plan for how you will allocate your testing resources, create research questions, adopt the right UX research methods, and familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll use throughout your research.

  1. Test

Invite your users to complete your research testing. Begin the data collection process, and catalogue pertinent information about their needs, comments, and preferences.

  1. Analyze

Carefully review the data you’ve collected and use it to redress your hypothesis. Visualize your data, and create a concrete plan for how you will address your UX issues based on user critique.

Tasks and Deliverables

Task analysis is a component of UX research concerned with learning about customer goals; wherein users are given simple tasks to complete under the supervision of researchers. These tests can range from interacting with a store page, to viewing and categorizing products according to preference. 

Task analysis for UX research

Deliverables are the process designs that UX researchers create using data analyzed from UX research. These deliverables are an effective way for researchers to communicate with other departments and business stakeholders. These deliverables are essential, as they drive the physical manifestation of the changes a researcher develops after their testing phase. A general audience cannot be expected to analyze raw data the same way a trained researcher can; therefore, these deliverables form guides that shape outside decision making.

These deliverables can take many forms, including:

  • User Guides
  • Technical Specifications
  • UX Research Reports
  • Customer Personas
  • User Journey Maps
  • Experimental Models
  • Presentations
  • Marketing & Communication Guidelines

How Helpfull assists in UX research 

The fastest way to get feedback on your UX design is with a real-time survey. Helpfull puts businesses and researchers in touch with real audiences from all across the country; individuals ranging from thousands of different backgrounds and across dozens of unique demographics.

Helfull survey for real-time feedback

From the moment their users click “Get feedback” on the Helpfull main app - to the time their survey reaches its first panelist - is often less than 10 minutes. On average, a Helpfull survey with an audience of 100 pollsters completes in just 18 minutes. During that time, users can watch their audience responses pour in.

Integrating feedback from your clients is vitally important to your business. It’s no surprise that the best products are ones that incorporate the tastes and desires of their target customers into their designs; it makes sense. The customers are what matter most. Incorporating feedback can be used to improve customer experience throughout every stage of the buying process, whether they’re: shopping in stores, browsing through a digital catalogue, or browsing social media channels.

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