Archi babe’s UX design journey: Little did she know that there was more. (Week 4)

I just want to put it out there that my excitement about this UX design journey I embarked on got the best of me at the beginning. And now I’m writing this, thinking to myself, “Wow Marcelle, aren’t you a clown”. There I was thinking product design was going to be easy peasy or like my Nigerian folks like to say “Vibes and Inshallah”. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I had to learn everything from scratch and put in the work, as this is a new sphere for me. Little did I know that what I had to learn was A WHOLE LOT!

During the last 15 minutes of the previous class, it felt like my brain was so saturated that if I consumed anymore information, it would explode. I’m pretty sure it had a lot to do with the anxiety the topic “Research” always gives me. Maybe I’ll write about this soon. It was at the end of the class it really dawned on me that if I want to become a product designer, an excellent one, not mediocre, research is a territory I need to be comfortable in. I need to be able to ease into it effortlessly and effectively.

A summary of what I learnt;

User Research

User research represents the insights gathered through methodical investigative approaches from users and consumers such as, their expectations, behaviors, needs and motivations, that are leveraged to help make product decisions at any stage of the development process. In simple terms, user research is a practical study of people and their needs, expectations and behaviors. It’s important to note that people’s needs and expectations don’t always match their behavior. This is why beyond asking users what their needs are, it is important to observe their behavior in order to get a deeper understanding about the user.

User research vs Product research

User and Product research aren’t the same and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. While User research seeks to understand the user in isolation, Product research seeks to understand the user in relation the product. In the latter, you want to know how they feel about the product and interact with it. For example, “What do you do when you want to buy an outfit?” vs “How do you use Xproduct when you want to buy an outfit?”. One is a User research question while the other is a product research question. I’ll leave you to do the guessing, you’re smart. 😉 There’s also something called User experience research, which is a combination of both User and product research.

Categories of Research

  • Attitudinal & Behavioral Research: Attitudinal seeks information about people’s opinions & feelings about something. Behavioral research is an observation of people’s actions. What they say they do (attitudinal) vs What they actually do (behavioral).
  • Primary & Secondary Research: Primary research is any research originally carried out by you to understand users. Secondary research involves looking through relevant data compiled by other people. Secondary research should not be taken as facts but it can serve as the basis or start off point for the primary research.
  • Foundational & Evaluative Research: Foundational research is carried out at the very beginning of a project to better understand the problem space, answer some of the initial questions/assumptions and help determine what & where the focus should be. Evaluative research is an iterative process that assesses a product at various design stages and even beyond, through its lifecycle to get users’ feedback on what to change, improve or leave as is.

There is no rule that says only one type of research must be used. Depending on the type of project, it is advised that a mixed method involving at least 2 types of research be used to gain more context and data.

Some common UX research methods include: Interviews, Surveys, Card sorting, A/B testing, Focus group, Heuristic evaluation, participatory design, Card sorting, Task analysis, Usability testing etc There are many more and of course, your method selection is determined by the goal of your project.

User research Plan

Every designer and researcher needs to create a research plan before they kick off the research. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. A research plan is a draft that serves as a reference point during the course of the research to keep the team focused and ensure that the objectives of the research are answered effectively and efficiently. This document usually contains the research goals & objectives, participants, methodology, questions and schedule.

Finally, the difference between a good and bad research is in the quality of questions you ask. You cannot afford to ask the wrong questions because your entire research study and consequently, your product’s success, is dependent on those questions. Remember the famous saying “garbage in, garbage out”.

And the Journey continues…



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Marcelle Umar

Marcelle Umar

Hi, I’m a UI/UX designer, an Architect, a Podcaster and all-round creative badass.