Navigating the Seas of UX Research: Crafting the Foundation

Embarking on a UX research journey is much like setting sail into uncharted waters. To ensure a successful voyage, you must chart your course meticulously, beginning with the fundamental aspects of your research plan. In this article, we will delve into three critical elements of this plan: the project background, research goals, and research questions.

Project Background: Setting the Stage

Imagine your research plan as the map that guides your expedition. The project background serves as the compass, helping you navigate the why and how of your research. In simple terms, it explains why you’re embarking on this journey and provides a brief rationale for your research.

Why is the project background so crucial? Firstly, it aligns your team’s understanding and purpose. Ensuring that every team member comprehends the historical context leading up to the current research is essential. It’s akin to agreeing on the voyage’s purpose before setting sail.

Moreover, a well-defined project background demonstrates your grasp of the research’s significance, instilling confidence in the quality of your insights. While this might not be immediately evident during the planning phase, it becomes invaluable when presenting your findings to decision-makers who can act on your recommendations.

When crafting your project background, remember these three key considerations:

  1. Identify Signals: Determine what signals or indicators prompted the need for this research. In essence, why are you conducting this study, and is there a problem to be solved?
  2. Previous Research: Describe any prior research or attempted solutions related to the issue. How have previous efforts contributed to understanding or resolving the problem?
  3. Anticipated Insights: Outline the insights you expect to gain from the research. Insights should be clear, actionable observations that shed new light on user needs or behaviors. Explain how these insights will inform decision-making.

Maintain conciseness in your project background to ensure it captures the team’s attention effectively.

Research Goals: Defining Your Objectives

Research goals serve as the guiding stars of your expedition. They articulate the specific objectives you aim to achieve through your research. Think of them as your ultimate destination points, driving the entire study.

Developing research goals involves categorizing them based on when they fit within the product lifecycle:

  1. Foundational Research Goals: When conducted before the design phase, foundational research aims to understand whether there is a genuine need for the product. These goals revolve around comprehending the user problem you intend to solve.
  2. Design Research Goals: During the design phase, design research goals help you determine how to build the product effectively. These goals provide answers to design-related questions, ensuring confidence in the design process.
  3. Post-launch Research Goals: After the product is launched, post-launch research assesses whether the product functions as intended. Goals in this phase assess the success of your project based on predefined criteria.

For instance, if you were developing a dog-walking app, your foundational research goal might be to understand if there is a legitimate need for such an app. This goal aligns with the early stages of product development.

Research Questions: Navigating Your Path

Research questions serve as the compass that guides your voyage, helping you stay on course. They are the questions you intend to answer during your study. These questions should not be the literal queries you ask participants but rather the overarching themes you wish to explore.

Why are research questions essential? They provide focus and structure to your research study, acting as the main topics you will address in your research. Here are some tips for crafting effective research questions:

  1. Actionable: Ensure your research questions can be addressed through specific actions. You should know when you’ve found a satisfactory answer.
  2. Specific: Avoid overly broad questions; instead, aim for specificity to yield meaningful data.
  3. Neutral Language: Craft questions neutrally, avoiding assumptions or leading language.

For example, if your research goal is to make your dog-walking app more user-friendly to retain customers, one research question could be, “What frustrated users the most about finding a dog walker through the app?” This question seeks qualitative information about user frustrations.

In summary, the project background, research goals, and research questions form the bedrock of your research plan, shaping your entire UX research journey. Just as a well-prepared explorer ensures a successful voyage, crafting a strong research plan guarantees a fruitful expedition into the realm of UX research.