DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY GUIDES
A Guide to Design Research, Stages, and Methodologies
Quantitative research is fundamentally about numbers. It focuses on data that can be precisely measured and allows researchers to formally test hypotheses. Quantitative data also lends itself to statistical analyses, which lets you make inferences about your sample and understand the implications of those results. This includes things like letting you know exactly how confident you should be in your findings, allowing you to make better-informed decisions.
Qualitative research helps you understand why people behave a certain way. It helps to answer less defined questions like, “What do people first notice on the dashboard?” Qualitative research is usually more complex and often involves user interviews or dialogue with the users themselves.
Many people think of research as being beneficial only during the beginning of a project. But most successful companies build research into their product development, too. If you’ve made a design change and your metrics evolve unexpectedly, research and testing can help you uncover the source of changes in user behavior and adapt your design to help you get the results you need.
- Listen (always)
Discovery tactics include conducting field studies and user or stakeholder interviews. This category encompasses learning what you know—and what you don’t.
With exploratory tactics, your team uses methods like competitive analysis, card sorting, and journey mapping to prevent errors, avoid waste, and generally explore and analyze the ideas you’ve uncovered.
It’s crucial to test your ideas and theories to make sure they’re logistically feasible and that users respond the way you want them to. This usually looks like qualitative usability testing, benchmark testing, and an accessibility evaluation.
By paying attention to your users’ sentiments about the design, you can see how successful your designs are and adapt as needed in the future. Search-log analysis, feedback reviews, and FAQ reviews are some of the most common listening tactics we see.
While we’ve broken this into its own stage, it’s important to note that listening is critical throughout the entire research process. Users might tell you something you didn’t want to hear or share an idea that’s new to you. You have to be able to remove bias to truly hear what users are saying.