Explore our Blog Close
< Back
 » Akendi UX Blog
Geoff McCormick
Geoff McCormick

Akendi Alumnus

5 User Experience Research Tips You Can’t Afford To Ignore

There was a great post in my Linkedin feed recently by Luke Wroblewski of Google, with some simple and powerful stats.

It’s a great post with bare facts on mobile phone usage. 2,600 interactions, just 6 ‘phone unlocks’ per hour and 14 hours of ‘awakeness’ just demonstrate how heavily mobile phones feature in our daily lives. Whatever we do, wherever we are, we are swiping, touching, watching or using our mobile phone. It accompanies and supports our lives in every setting and scenario.

This sounds like good news for an app developer but the competition for being, literally, seen on a smartphone screen is fierce. In such a crowded market, the User Experience a major differentiator and what makes an experience successful is quite simple. It needs to be useful (makes people buy), usable (keeps users using/buy more) and satisfying. Achieving this is, however, not simple. Trial and error doesn’t get you there – it requires User Experience Research.

User Experience Research Asks the Following Essential Questions:

  • Who will be using your product
  • What are they trying to achieve
  • When are they using your product
  • Where are they using your product
  • Why would they use your product
  • How would they use your product

These questions are the same for any UX research activity but the way you go about it depends on the type of product/service as well as the development stage your product is in. A completely new product will require a lot of research. A minor update probably very little unless you have never done any UX research. If that is the case then it is worthwhile to start from scratch if only to discover how big the gap between what you offer and what your users need really is.

Apart from deciding how much research should be done, the real challenge of UX Research is knowing what technique to use to elicit the desired insights into user needs. Fortunately, UX Researchers have a broad toolkit of techniques such as interviews, surveys, ethnography, card sorting to choose from. Getting answers to your specific 5WH questions will require a unique combination of these to provide insights that are not just interesting but also valid for the majority of your (potential) user base.

5 Tips for Your User Research:

1. Research before you design.

Don’t fall into the ‘solution thinking’ trap. If you already have a solution in mind then it is going to be very hard to move away from this.

2. Involve representative users.

There simply is no substitute for talking to real potential users, full stop.

3. Focus on use not markets.

Market Research and User Research share the same toolkit but the questions asked are not the same.

4. Apply ‘tool triangulation’.

One technique does not give you a full picture so use more than one to cover all the bases.

5. Focus groups are not (always) the answer!

Focus groups have their use but are not a universal means to an end. Think ‘what is it I need to know’ and then select the techniques to get you the best possible answer as quickly as possible.

Geoff McCormick
Geoff McCormick

Akendi Alumnus

Share this article

Linked InFacebookTwitter


THanks for these useful tips, Geoff! You’ve, however, mentioned the term “tool triangulation”. I’ve actually never heard of it, could you please explain what it’s about?

Hi Fred,

by tool triangulation we mean using 2 or more tools to get a validated and complete answer to a research question. Research tools can be categorised by whether the results are quantitative (e.g. online survey) or qualitative (e.g. focus groups) as well as whether the results reflect users opinions (e.g. interviews) or what they actually do (e.g. ethnography). To get a complete picture you need to use tools that fall in a few of these categories and that is what we refer to with the expression ‘tool triangulation’.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Learn how your comment data is used by viewing Akendi's Blog Privacy Policy

Related Articles

Sign up for our UX Blog

Don't miss an article! We'll notify you of each new post.

How can we help_hand help you?