To build a well-performing website that is user-friendly and drives conversions, it’s important that your website fits the needs and expectations of your users. But how do you discover what your target audience wants? Let us introduce you to a couple of UX Research Techniques.

This article is brought to you by World of Digits.

Table of contents

UX Techniques 101 📊

What is the true need of your website visitors?

Every website is built for a certain target audience. That audience visits your website for a specific reason, they have a goal in their mind that they want to achieve. They want to buy something in your e-shop, they want to know more about the pricing of your service, they want to know certain features of certain products, they want to know how your products are produced, they might have a complaint or a question…

Knowing what your visitors want will determine the way you build your website. It will help you to decide what content you have to publish, how your navigation will be structured, and how your website will look and feel.

What is UX Research?

In order to find the true need of your website visitors, User Experience Research Techniques can help. In our previous article, we talked about the four phases of the UX Design Process. To find your users’ needs we focus on the first two phases: the discovery phase and the define phase.

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The Discovery Phase

Within The discovery phase, we try to immerse ourselves in the world of the user. We gain a deep understanding of what they do and why they do it. 

In case you have an existing website up and running, it might be a good idea to have a look at data that might be already available. We mainly try to focus on demographic data and website analytics here. Google Analytics can help and the content management system of your website (E.g. WordPress) might store some data as well.

What is the average age of your website audience? Are your visitors mainly men or women? Where do they live? This demographic data gives you useful information. In case you have for example a slightly older audience, you might want to opt for a bigger font size and higher contrast to improve readability. For a young audience, you might want to reduce the cognitive load of articles and forms. In the define phase, this data can be used to build personas.

Website analytics

Web analytics, on the other hand, can give you insights into the usage of your website. What is the average time spent on my website? Which pages are visited the most? How does the clickstream of your users look like? Maybe there is no need anymore to place a certain page in the main navigation as your user does not show any interest in it?

Besides using existing data, you can also gather data yourself. This is where the real UX research techniques come into place. It’s time to talk with your user. You could organize interviews or focus groups. You might want to launch a survey or a small poll on your website. For more complex digital products or services, you could ask your users to keep track of a diary. In case you want to understand the context where visitors use your website, you could organize a shadow session where you literally look over their shoulder.

Tip: Organize a cognitive walkthrough. You put yourself in the shoes of a user and try, for instance, to buy something yourself on your own website.

The Define Phase

Once you have gathered all this data on your users, it’s time to structure, analyse and understand it. This will take place during the define phase. A great technique to really put a phase to your user is building personas. You create an archetype of your average user and try to keep them in your mind when building or improving your website.

Another method that can help you is a user journey map. Here you outline the tasks a user conducts step by step.

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Some interesting methods & techniques:

Interviews

You want to gather information from your users and gain deeper insights into what drives them. During these interviews, users are asked about their feelings, ideas, wishes, and expectations of your website. Why are they using your website? What do they like or dislike and why? 

In interviews, you have the chance to really go deeper. To ask the why question. You try to look for their attitude towards your product or service. In case you’ve done a survey, running some interviews might solve some remaining questions and could be a nice addition.

Short polls

A poll is a small survey that you can launch on your website or app in order to collect specific real-time information from real users while they are navigating through your pages.

You can validate internal assumptions, discover bugs or ask the visitors what they are looking for. For example, you could launch a poll the moment a user tries to leave your page without asking for a quote. You can ask the question: You leave without asking for a quote, why? Is there information missing?

These kinds of polls can deliver valuable feedback very fast. You can use tools such as Hotjar or MyFeelback.

Break up / love letter

You ask your users to write a breakup letter to your website where they explain what they hate about your website. At the same time, you ask them to write a love letter, where they describe why they love your website so much.

This method highlights what matters to your users. Besides finding positive and negative aspects of your website, you’ll also find which elements influence the perception of your brand.

Photo safari

During a photo safari, you can gather more information about the environment and context in which a client uses your website.

You ask participants to take a picture every time they use your website or app. That way you can literally see the context in which they are using it. Maybe they are behind their desk at work, or they are in the train. Maybe they are having dinner with their family or they are in the pub with friends.

Persona building

Personas can be used to personify the needs and requirements of your users. This will help you build a website with this user in mind.

A persona represents the user types and is built by giving it a personality (including a name, photo, hobbies..) and describing its goals, values, fears, and pain points.

To help you out, you could use this template:

wod_persona_template

Customer journey mapping

A journey map is a visualization that shows the phases a user goes through when interacting with the product or service. The user goals and actions are mapped out on a timeline.

It helps you to understand the customer needs, shows where the pain points are and how a user feels along the way.

If you want to improve your customers’ journey, focussing on these pain points can really help in making sure the user can achieve his goal and will improve the overall digital experience.

What to remember

The most important thing to remember is that you need to talk with real-life users in order to find their real needs.

You probably will have an assumption of what your user wants, you might follow your gut feeling or maybe some key stakeholders have a real clear opinion on what the website has to look like. That doesn’t matter! To be honest, what does matter is that you ask your users what they want.

Next up:

In the next article, we will teach you how you can test whether your existing website is user-friendly or not.

Missed the previous article? Check it here on how UX Design can help you in improving your website.

Stay tuned!