Research. Sounds expensive, long-winded, and time-consuming right? But if you look at any dictionary definition of ‘Research’ it includes none of these words.
We seem to be being asked by more and more companies about how they can quickly leverage research to validate and kick start projects and we’re happy to see our information has allowed many to peek behind the curtain of some valuable approaches to research.
So, by no means exhaustive, or delving into the depths or the complexity of analysis which is where the real value of research happens, this list is aimed at helping those who need it to understand just some of the ways you can think about conducting research which maybe, just maybe, starts that conversation that gets things moving faster.
So where're the 8 juicy bits that’ll make me look clever in front of my friends and colleagues?
They’re coming, but first, it’s important to remember one thing: Research is the foundation of any successful Customer Experience project great or small. FACT. It can realign and empower teams offering direction based on cold hard facts and recognised behavioral patterns, regardless of how painful some may be to playback in front of stakeholders. Like I said, good to remember that when you’re looking clever in front of your colleagues. OK, so here’s the juicy bits. Tuck in.
1. WEB ANALYTICS
Tracks and reports website traffic showing you a data view of where your visitors are looking on your website by measuring where they click, how long they spend on a page and other valuable behavioural metrics.
Why use it:
It can highlight problems quickly that may not be visible in the design
It gives you an idea of how your product is being used rather than how you intended it to be used
Quickly utilise your best-performing pages and optimise weaker ones
It is based on ‘fact’ and difficult for teams to ignore though reasons for data results still need to be explored as a page where visitors are viewing for longer does not mean always mean great engaging content, it may just be that your CTA link on that page is broken
Google analytic demo account: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/#/report-home/a54516992w87479473p92320289 Udemy (affordable) courses: https://www.udemy.com/courses/search/?q=website%20analytics&src=sac&kw=web%20analy Usability.gov what and why: https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/web-analytics.html
Visualises where, and with what frequency, users interact with your website pages by showing ‘hotspots’ of user activity.
Why use it:
Visualising patterns helps to understand behaviour
Reading a data visualisation over a data table is quicker and less open to interpretation
They use a simple hot (popular) and cold (ignored) scale which everyone can understand
Heatmaps include click maps, move maps and scroll maps for a deeper dive into behaviour
They provide a great historical record to measure any future change in behaviour
Hotjar tracking tool https://www.hotjar.com/ Crazy Egg tracking tool https://w3.crazyegg.com/overview Eye-tracking (different, but worth a look) www.businessinsider.com/eye-tracking-heatmaps-2014-7?r=US&IR=T
3. CUSTOMER SURVEYS
Quantitative research based on the questions you want to ask your customers. You even get to choose how many!
Why use it:
You can target the respondents by placing surveys on specific points on your actual website or choose your demographic by using third party channels that will source candidates for you
It can be cheap and effective!
You design the questions to get the answers you need (though you need to be aware of your customers not knowing what it is they really 'need')
It will give you a high-level view of what your users are requesting, but for a greater understanding of why they think this, you may want to look at number 4
Survey Monkey for quick and affordable surveys: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/ YouGov for more in-depth research needs https://yougov.co.uk/ Writing good survey questions by Dr David Travis (a god in user research): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nCGXMK8XQI&feature=youtu.be
4. CUSTOMER INTERVIEWS
Speak directly to your users, even view them using your product. But again, don't always trust their answers.
Why use it:
Guaranteed you WILL learn something incredibly valuable by doing this
It’s (relatively) easy to do this remotely during Covid and it will help build empathy with your customer base
You can target a certain customer type, a section of your service, and get a ‘real world’ view that can be shared with stakeholders and teams alike
Speaking to people who know and use your brand can be much better than just asking for opinions and feedback from just anybody
Customers will always surprise you and seeing and hearing it first hand can be priceless
How when and why to conduct customer interviews: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/user-interviews/ Another (but equally as good) how to: https://uxdesigntemplates.com/evidence/method/customer-interviews
5. SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE REVIEWS
A place where you’re customers (both happy and ANGRY!@!*!) will relate experiences giving insights into your service and the emotional reactions thereafter.
Why use it:
People generally complain in great detail. This is exactly what you need to be seeing (why not even reach out to these people?)
Customers do research also, is what they are reading what you want them to hear?
See patterns, solve the right problems and fix bugs in realtime
Understand the expectation of your brand
Helpful links: Using Social media for UX research https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/03/using-social-media-user-research/ Using Instagram for Customer research https://uxdesign.cc/instaux-a-6-step-guide-to-using-instagram-for-ux-research-5b533604f7a6
6. COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
Whatever channels you use to research your own brand, then do the same exercise with your competitors and benchmark against your own results.
Why use it:
Again… It’s FREE! And very effective
Is your competitor doing something really crappy? Then focus on that area and make it a USP. And make sure their customers know about it also
Why are your competitor's customers happy? Mirroring a great solution will help level the battlefield. You can improve on this later
You need to know what customers are currently using and enjoying. Oh, and those flashy 'New' features quickly become 'expected' by all. See one of our other articles for more on expectation inflation.
How to https://usabilitygeek.com/how-to-do-ux-competitor-analysis/ Data analytics on your competitors: www.similarweb.com A brief guide https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/08/guide-competitive-analysis/
7. BEST IN (AND OUT OF) CLASS RESEARCH
Take inspiration from market leaders, understand why something works and think outside the box and your own product or service category.
Why use it:
Yup, it's free again
It can provide you with a great birds-eye view of what the market is doing
It gets a great tool for workshops and ideation and really gets you to the next level quickly
It makes sure you have a good place to start from
You will start to see patterns and learn very quickly about behaviours
A very in-depth and amazing article https://buffer.com/library/competitor-analysis/ Benchmarking against competitors https://www.userzoom.com/blog/what-is-ux-benchmarking-and-why-is-it-so-valuable/
8. INTERNAL STAFF SURVEYS
Quantitative and qualitative data straight from the heart of your organisation.
Why use it:
Could be easy to implement
You can guarantee that any problem your staff is having will be being felt by your customer i.e: Staff talking about being too busy? Then customers will complain of slow service.
Anonymising the survey will ensure a better and honest report
You will (like the web analytics) see patterns very quickly which may be in areas you never knew had issues
Work is a big part of our lives and it shouldn’t suck. Do the right thing. (That’s just a personal aside)
Writing staff surveys https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/employee-surveys/Benchmarking against competitors
There’s, unfortunately, no silver bullet for success, our cherry-picked list of methods listed above hopefully give insight and inspiration into what’s available and trust us, there are many more methods and ways of analysing the results that they capture which makes research such a powerful tool.
This article does come with the caveat that there is of course great skill and knowledge involved in both acquiring and interpreting both data and research results to their full potential, but we’ve seen even first-timers making discoveries that have gone on to inform change for good. You never know until you give it a go.