How to research and evaluate for good user experience?
When starting a brand new project it is important to undergo extensive User Experience (UX) research and to apply all necessary methods of evaluation. User research and analysis will contribute towards the future success of the project. There are many methods for evaluating UX, and the use of those methods will depend on the project. Below, we will list some user experience research techniques and evaluation methods that we use ourselves.
Here at GearedApp we like to start our User Experience research by conducting PACT analysis. PACT stands for PEOPLE, ACTIVITIES, CONTEXT and TECHNOLOGIES. It is a great framework which helps to answer many questions about users, their activities and also about how and in what context our final product is used. Knowing more about people, activities, context and technologies will help to create personas, user stories, and conceptual scenarios.
This section focuses on gathering as much information about your target users as possible, their age, abilities, experience, motivation, language, culture, etc. The more you know about your users the better user experience you can provide for them.
It’s all about goals, tasks and actions people listed in the section above will perform with the product. How often are these activities performed? How long does it take? Is it individual or co-operative?
Answers, in what context is the product used? Where is it used? In what circumstances?
What technologies should be used to create the product to suit people, activities and context listed in PACT.
Doing some research into your competition will help you to get to know them and understand how they work. What makes them successful? Why do you consider them a competition? What features and similarities does their concept share with yours? It is worth listing all pros and cons of your competitors and researching their user base to see if their target audience matches yours.
Before starting any design work it is worth researching Design Patterns as any usability problems can be resolved by analysing them. They can tell us a lot about users and what they like. After analysing and researching design patterns, designers can determine which one should be applied to UI. In this way the needs of specific user group can be accommodated.
After the designing and prototyping stages of the project are complete, it is time to TEST, TEST, TEST! This is a crucial step, and there is really no such thing as too much user testing. To lend a hand, there are a lot of different tools and methods of user testing. Below we are listing a few that we have used.
Lab studies are a popular method of UX evaluation. This approach is great for testing prototypes. To conduct a Lab study simply give your testers a product that needs to be evaluated. Then ask participants to follow a number of tasks, and to verbalise their thoughts while performing it. All observations such as the testers’ facial expressions and their comments should be carefully noted. At GearedApp we like to use Lookback.io for conducting lab studies.
Surveys are great because they can gather feedback in a short amount of time. You can send a survey to anyone around the world and there is no limit to the amount of participants. Currently the most common way of conducting a survey for UX evaluation is to complete a full questionnaire survey using either the AttrakDiff and Emocards methods.
This methods of evaluation is often used in early stages of product development. An expert can perform an analysis of the prototype in order to discover any usability problems before a user study of the prototype is conducted.
The above UX research and evaluation methods give a flavour of the many techniques available. There are a lot of great research methods and evaluation techniques that you can apply such as personas, user stories, conceptual scenarios and many more. Remember, you can never conduct too much research. As for evaluation methods this will depend on the product itself.
For a full UX checklist and a list of articles on this topic check this page.
In the next article we will focus on some of the best UI/UX tools that we love.