5 Things To Keep In Mind When Conducting User Research

Gathering feedback from users in the correct manner is essential to doing a good job as a UX designer. I say in the correct manner, because there’s a lot of ways you can go about gathering feedback and not all of them are good.

Sometimes in this article I may say things that make it sound as if I think designers are always wrong and/or they don’t know what they are doing. This is not the case at all, but this post wouldn’t make any sense if I just praised UX designers for their intuitive and creative genius. Instead, it would be better for me to create a post with a few very helpful tips and that’s exactly what this is.

Taking in feedback from users is so important because that feedback is the user telling you how they feel about your work. After all, a UX designer is a USER experience designer. The purpose of our job is to make sure the experience the user has while utilizing your application is as pleasant as possible. So, let’s get into the things you should try to keep in mind in order to most effectively take in feedback from users.

1. Do Not Blame Others When They Cannot Utilize Your Design Properly

This is the first thing that you must always keep in mind when taking in feedback from users. Even though your design may be flawless and the users shouldn’t be complaining about anything, it’s still important to never think that way because then your mind gets closed off to the potential cases where you may be at fault for the poor design. If users give poor feedback for the design, your initial reaction should be that the design can be improved, not that the users are wrong for not being able to navigate the application correctly. If you analyze the feedback and don’t see how you, as a designer, can improve the design (highly unlikely), then that’s fine. But, at least you approached it from a perspective that the design could be improved, rather than right off the bat saying the design is perfect and the users are at fault for not figuring out how to use it correctly. Once you say that, the doors close for any potential improvement and as a designer, developer, or even a project manager, the whole industry knows there’s always at least SOME room for improvement.

2. See Potential Improvement Where People See Challenges

Building on the first point of not blaming users for having challenges, instead, automatically train yourself to see the challenges your users are facing as potential areas for improvement. This is honestly one of the most vital components to being a good UX designer. To be able to take in negative feedback and automatically think of it as HELPFUL information instead of them attacking you personally as a designer, or your application as an application. They aren’t attacking you or your app when they give negative feedback, they are letting you know where your design can be improved. They are doing you a FAVOR. A pretty big one at that. Always see their complaints as an opportunity to improve and make sure that other users down the line don’t face the same issue and give you the same complaint.

This isn’t just for design, but a perspective to keep in your totality of life in order to really enhance it. Granted, most people don’t have any business giving you their opinion when it comes to most things in your life. But, instead of taking things personally and being someone who becomes defensive at the first signs of any constructive feedback from someone else, look at things objectively and the feedback someone gives you may turn out to be very helpful. Just like when it comes to user feedback, there’s going to be feedback given to you that isn’t helpful at all and should be discarded completely, but you won’t know what can really help you if you just disregard everything someone says right from the get go.

It also really relates to entrepreneurship. As they say “When someone has a complaint, there’s a business opportunity for you if you can solve that complaint” or something like that. The point is, looking at things objectively, even negative feedback, can open doors for improvement so the feedback should sometimes be taken into consideration in your life, and ALWAYS be taken into consideration when your serving as a UX designer for a project and are gathering and analyzing user feedback. I wanted to point all that out to show you why taking feedback in objectively can help you and your work. But, this isn’t a post about life so let’s get back to UX design before we get too off topic.

3. Where is the feedback coming from? You Are There To Serve The User

It’s important to take note of where exactly your feedback is coming from. There’s a big difference between a 50 year-old having issues with your design vs. someone in their 20’s. Depending on what the product is for, one may have more input than the other. The person who’s opinions should carry the most weight are those who share the same profile as the people who are likely to use your product. Those are the people who are going to be using the app the most, so making sure the product is suits their needs and is as easy and enjoyable as possible for them holds the most priority.

While taking care of the needs for the target user are important, it’s still also equally important that the product is easy to use for everyone. While the product is tailored to your target audience, it still shouldn’t be difficult for the average person to use and navigate it.

4. Be Easy On Yourself

One thing I’ve learned so far in my short time of being a designer is that designing experiences is HARD. I’ve also heard the same thing from much more experienced designers. Getting things right on the first try is not common so it’s really easy for lots of designers to begin to feel bad about their capability and performance.

The number one thing to remember in this situation is that you will continue to get better with experience. As you get more projects under your belt, your initial designs will start coming out better and better. I’ve only served as a designer for a few projects and I’ve noticed drastic growth in between each project. Experience is really the key to your professional growth so always make sure your practicing.

Like I said, lots of senior designers don’t hit the target on their first try when it comes to designing an experience for a new product or feature. It shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to fail, but rather as something to offer perspective on what an honest design process entails. It’s going to take some trial and error; some testing and revisions based on the results from the tests. Give it your best at all times and be okay with things not going so well the first time around when working on something new.

5. Separate necessary changes from those that can be taken care of later on or not at all

After testing and conducting your research, it will be time for you to look over the results and decide which revisions, if any, need to be made to the design. Look over the issues and identify where they came from. Feedback from people who fit the profile of your ideal user should be placed into its own section. Go over that feedback and determine give it number based on whether or not it’s:

  1. Something that needs to be fixed now
  2. Something that needs to be fixed but can wait
  3. Something that can be fixed if there’s extra time
  4. Something that doesn’t need to be fixed

After doing this for the feedback given by those who match the profile of your ideal user, do it for all of the other feedback and info you received from the testing group. Remember to look at this feedback carefully and look at how handling each separate issue will affect your most common users. Sometimes these views will conflict and it will be a judgement call you or someone else involved in the project will have to make. After raking all of the issues with a number, go ahead and let your team know so you guys can act accordingly and move forward.

Conclusion

The main thing to remember and takeaway from this is to not take personal offense to any feedback you get from those testing your product design. Remember that designers are here to create the best experience possible for the user, not to create the best experience for our own gratification. Remembering this and having it stick will allow you to see feedback objectively and will give you the best chance make the correct decisions based on the feedback. Thank you for reading and I wish you the best. God bless!

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