User Experience Research (UXR) Foundations

Updated: May 3



What is UXR?

What exactly is ‘experience’? It is not quantitative data. An experience is a subjective phenomenon that includes three main things: sensations, emotions and thoughts. At any moment our experience build by everything we sense (heat, pleasure, tension, etc.), every emotion we feel (love, fear, anger, etc.) and whatever thoughts we rise in our mind. The flow of the user’s subjective experiences when they interact with a product is known as User Experience.

Good User Experience means when the user interacts with technology, they can do what they want to do and need to do without difficulty and without any frustration.

To provide a good user experience, the products and services should be designed in a way to fit the needs of users. To design a better user experience, there is a need for a thorough understanding of users, their needs, goals, and the context in which they will interact with the product and how well the product catering to their needs. The process done for this kind of deeper understanding of the user is known as User Experience Research (UXR).

The objective of UXR is to understand everything relevant between User and Product. It's a general awareness of the user, not only their needs, wants, and motivations but also their environment, what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, and more. UXR allows product builders to take a critical look at what they're creating and figure out whether or not it'll generate the desired outcome because we all don’t have the same mental model.


All don’t Have Same Mental Model


A mental model is a simulation in one’s mind about how something works in the real world. There are two kinds of mental models to consider. System models and interaction models. System models are models of how things work. Interaction models are models of how to use or interact with something.


Product builders will have strong system models but typically have weak interaction models. For example, Generally, Programmers know how exactly their software applications work computationally but they do not exactly understand how other people will use and understand their software application. Vice versa Users can develop very strong interaction models but typically have weak system models. For example, a person can be a great best PC game player but have no idea how it computationally works and made.


From a systems model point of view, Product builders will think they had made the best product and it will work, but if their product violates the well-established conventional interaction model and then the result will be a bad user experience.


There will be always a natural Gap between product builder’s system model and the user’s interaction model. We can build a bridge the gap between these two groups by deducing the interaction model of the user. If product builders understand the mental model of the user, then they can alter their system model accordingly.

One of the biggest motivations to understand the user’s interaction model is that it can help save development costs and time because it helps product builders that they are building the right thing which is well resonating with users. From the business perspective, understanding the user interaction model prevents mistakes in the design stage itself and so reworks after deployment can be prevented. From a competitive perspective, new opportunities can be discovered. Understanding the Interaction model uncovers the true needs of the user, so one can put his valuable time & effort only on features valuable to users. So Product builders can earn more passionate customers.


Deducing the Interaction Model

This is the Ideal formula to find the Interaction model

Interaction Model = Qualitative Data x Quantitative Data

What is Quantitative Data? (Collecting data on What & How Users doing certain activity in System Model perspective?)

These are any kind of behavioural & users interests-oriented data like user screen time, several clicks, demography, mouse scrolling patterns, number of visits, etc that can be computationally tracked or manually surveyed.


What is Qualitative Data? (collecting data on Why & How Users doing in user’s perspective)

They are not empirical data but it is a sensitivity oriented thing that covers user goals, motivations, frustrations and many other factors that influences/her interaction model with the product. And it can be collected by using various qualitative methods.

If we want to find the user’s interaction model, we should collect Quantitaive data and then interpret it with Insights/findings from Qualitative Data. It helps to identify the logic behind the user activity

This is called Mix-method Research. The Image below from my portfolio shows the idea process of Mix-method Research.


AUTHOR:

SANTHOSH GANDHI (UX Researcher)



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