Top 10 UX Research Methods & How They Can Help You Improve Your User Experience

According to a recent study, 88% of online users share they will not return to a site if they have had a bad user experience.

What does this mean for your website? It means that before you launch a new website or app, you need to conduct thorough user experience (UX) research and collect data of your users' needs and behavior that will help you support your strategy and design decisions.

This is where UX research methods come in.

We’ll share the most common types of UX research, plus 10 UX research methods you can use to collect information about your users and improve customer retention UX.

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What Are UX Research Methods?

UX research methods offer ways to collect insights about your users’ needs, expectations, motivations and behavior patterns.

By answering various questions about user experience, UX research methods help you identify problems and craft solutions to improve the experience consumers have when they land on your website.

Before we dive into the most common UX research methods, we first need to explain the bigger picture behind these methods.

UX Research Methodology

UX research methodology explains the approach you use when carrying out your UX research.

There are three common UX research methodologies on which UX research methods are based:

Observation

Observation is a process of collecting data through observing. As far as UX research goes, it can identify common patterns across seemingly different groups of users and find solutions that naturally fit into the lives of your users.

Understanding

Understanding includes diving into the mental models of your users, i.e. what picture they paint in their mind based on a certain situation or phrase, and linking this mental model to the decisions they make. Identifying the model can help designers create a solution that answers user expectations and needs.

Analysis

Analysis includes examining the patterns identified by the researcher and suggesting solutions and recommendations based on the results.

Types Of UX Research

There are various types of UX research, based on different criteria. Each type stems from the three key methodologies we listed above.

The six most common types of UX research include:

Quantitative Research

Quantitative UX research is based on numerical data and presents results that are representative of large groups of users.

For example, how many users clicked on the call-to-action (CTA) button, what percentage of users clicked on a certain link or how often users performed a certain task.

By analyzing statistical patterns, quantitative research can help you understand user behavior on your website.

Quantitative research typically uses UX research methods such as card sorting, surveys and A/B tests.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative UX research, also known as “soft” research helps you understand why your users take or don’t take a certain action.

For example, qualitative UX research can answer questions such as why people did not click on your “Subscribe” button or what elements on your website caught their attention.

Qualitative research can also help you understand and interpret the context of your users’ answers to the UX questions and tasks you have listed, identify behavior trends and develop respective solutions.

Qualitative research typically uses UX research methods such as focus groups, interviews and usability tests.

Evaluative Research

Evaluative research is used to assess your website or app solution and determine whether it meets the needs and expectations of your users and if it is accessible and easy to use.

Evaluative research can help you collect relevant feedback and deliver the solution and experience your target audiences expect.

Evaluative research typically uses UX research methods such as tree testing and A/B testing.

Generative Research

Generative research, also known as “discovery,” “exploratory” or “foundational” research is based on a deeper understanding of your users and market.

Generative research can help you find innovative solutions and opportunities, such as new user experiences, updates or improvements.

Generative research typically uses UX research methods such as interviews.

Attitudinal Research

Attitudinal research is based on users’ self-reported data such as perceptions, beliefs and expectations.

This type of research can help you identify certain mental models and shape your design and experience in line with your findings.

Attitudinal research typically uses UX research methods such as focus groups, interviews and card sorting.

Behavioral Research

Behavioral research is used to assess your users’ interaction with a prototype or completed product.

It can help you evaluate information on scenarios close to real-life. Behavioral research typically uses UX research methods such as tree tests and A/B tests.

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Top 10 User Research Methods

There are numerous UX research methods that can help you collect valuable feedback about your UX design. Below, we’ll share ten of the most common methods you can use to gather insights.

1. Focus Groups

Focus groups allow you to interview groups of 3-12 users about various topics and use discussions and exercises to obtain verbal or written feedback.

Focus groups can help you collect insights about your users’ ideas and attitudes.

2. Interviews

Interviews allow you to hold one-on-one communication with your users, observe their verbal and non-verbal behavior, ask open-ended questions and identify their desires, attitudes and behavior.

Interviews can help you attune your UX design process to what your users want to see.

Depending on your goals and the context in which they are used, interviews can fall into three main groups:

  • Directed interviews, which include questions and answers and help you receive feedback from large user groups or compare answers from different users.
  • Non-directed interviews, where the interviewer opens the conversation and mainly listens, interrupting the user only to ask for an additional explanation or detail.
  • Ethnographic interviews, in which you observe the daily routine of the users in their natural habitat to identify and understand the gap between what users say they are doing and what they are actually doing. Ethnographic interviews can also provide ideas about the activities your users are involved in as part of their lifestyle, when feeling most comfortable.

3. Card Sorting

Card sorting allows you to provide your users with a set of terms and ask them to arrange and categorize your website information into a structure that makes sense to them. This helps you understand how your users think and behave on your website.

Card sorting can help you identify how to create a unified user experience and improve your website’s architecture and navigation.

4. Personas

Personas allow you to create ideal users based on insights received from user interviews and data.

Personas can help you understand the pain points and expectations of specific groups, as well as insights about the experience they wish to encounter.

5. Surveys And Questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires allow you to ask multiple users a series of questions and collect a significant amount of data quickly and at a minimum cost.

Surveys and questionnaires can help you gather insights about the people visiting and interacting with your website.

6. A/B Tests

A/B tests allow you to create two versions of the same element, and test which version performs better. Examples include elements such as a link vs. a button, two content styles or two versions of a home page design.

Analyzing which of the suggested options meets a specific goal better can help you optimize your UX performance.

7. Five-Second Tests

Five-second testing allows you to collect data from the first impressions your users receive after interacting with your design or web page.

Five-second tests can help you identify the first elements that grab your users’ attention.

8. Tree Tests

Tree tests allow you to show the top level of your site map to your users and give them specific tasks, asking them to analyze the steps they will take to complete the task. Once they choose a site section, they are taken to the next level of your architecture.

Tree tests can help you determine if the information on your website is categorized properly and if the names of the respective sections reflect the content appropriately.

9. Prototyping

Prototyping allows you to explore concepts and ideas based on a crafted mock-up of your website, app or other product.

From interactive HTML pages to a paper mock-up of the initial model, prototyping can help you collect early feedback and avoid investing too much into designs that can prove ineffective.

10. Usability Tests

Usability tests allow you to hold one-on-one sessions with your user while studying their reaction and behavior.

Usability tests help you to identify your potential user’s problems and frustrations when interacting with your website.

The most common types of usability tests include:

  • Moderated usability tests, where an unbiased facilitator reads tasks and encourages the user to think out loud while working on the task in a usability lab, designed specifically for this purpose. The aim of the moderated usability test is to test your user’s assumptions and evaluate the effectiveness of your UX design.
  • Unmoderated usability tests, which are conducted online, with the instructions and tasks delivered via audio or video recording. Similar to moderated usability tests, the user is encouraged to think out loud when completing the tasks, but the lack of a facilitator asking questions makes the process much cheaper.
  • Guerilla tests, which are conducted in informal surroundings, such as subway stations and coffee shops. This method is best if your products or services have a large user base.
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Top 5 UI/UX Design Agencies

Looking for a UX design agency to help you improve your website? Here are the agencies that made our top five:

1. Brocoders

Headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia, Brocoders specializes in Transportation and Mobility software, AgriTech software, FinTech software, EdTech software and digital transformation.

Brocoders’ services include:

  • User experience
  • Web design
  • Software development
  • Mobile app development
  • Outsourcing software development

Brocoders has partnered with brands such as Anuel Energy, Kivity, Comtech LLC. And Adact.

2. Boldare

Headquartered in Gliwice, Poland, Boldare supports you throughout the entire product development cycle, from prototyping and testing to scaling.

Boldare offers:

  • Web design
  • eCommerce web design
  • Website development
  • Mobile app development
  • Software development

Boldare’s clients include Takamol, BlaBlaCar, Sonne and Virgin Radio Oman.

3. S-PRO

Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, S-PRO offers industry expertise in the areas of FinTech, healthcare, renewable energy and retail.

S-PRO's technology expertise includes:

  • UI/UX
  • Front-end
  • Back-end and API
  • Mobile Development
  • Blockchain Development

S-PRO has worked with companies such as MeterQubes, Climate Drops, Polarpro and Myntelligence.

4. KindGeek

Headquartered in Lviv, Ukraine, KindGeek helps companies of any size complete the technical aspects of their projects.

KindGeek’s services include:

  • User experience
  • Web design
  • Website development
  • Mobile app development
  • Software development

Kind Geek has partnered with companies such as Grafter, Jaja, The University of Basel and TUI.

5. TXI (Table XI)

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, TXI has partnered with start-ups, industry leaders and non-profit organizations alike.

TXI offers:

  • User experience
  • Web design
  • Product design
  • Mobile app development
  • eCommerce development

TXI’s clients include Frommer’s Travel Guides, Tyson Foods, The Filed Museum and the Northwestern University.

Key Takeaways On User Experience Research Methods

UX research methods are tools that allow you to gather important information about your users’ pain points and behavior and use these insights to optimize your website’s user experience.

The most common UX research methods include:

  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Card sorting
  • Personas
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • A/B tests
  • Five-second tests
  • Tree tests
  • Prototyping
  • Usability tests

A professional UX agency can help you choose and implement UX research methods, analyze the outcome, provide expert recommendations on how to improve your user experience and adjust your website or app based on the results.

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