Over the years, one trend we have noticed among startups and businesses that end up failing is a similar problem of little or no understanding of their ideal users, customers, clients, etc. needs or worse who they truly are. Why this may sound difficult to believe, but until you have spoken with and gotten a true feeling of the group of individuals you assume to be the ideal customer for your business or solution, you just might be treading on quicksand.
In every business school, market research and customer analysis are explained as standard procedures in venture building. But the problem is that many entrepreneurs see this as an over-the-desk task, therefore they do their research and analysis from their office and jettison the other aspects of user research and customer surveys for other aspects of the product or service development not understanding the overall impact of this on their business.
In this article, we will look at user research and how it impacts business growth. To do this it is important to give a clear definition and explanation of the concept of user research.
What is User Research?
User research is a process used to uncover answers to critical questions about users, their needs, and behaviors. It is an essential part of a product/service design process — one that you can use to validate your business idea and create products and services that people actually want.
User or customer research is the cornerstone of every business with successful solutions in the market.
Types of User Research
While there are different types of user research such as attitudinal and behavior research, generative and evaluative research. For this article, we will focus on the two most common types of user research.
- Quantitative user research
- Qualitative user research
1. Quantitative User Research
Quantitative user research is a type of user research that relies on numbers and statistics to measure and quantify the need or effectiveness of a product or service. It is one of the most commonly used types of user research, and it is used to summarize a set of data.
It focuses on what, when, and where people do things using surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other methods. It helps answer questions like:
- What are people doing?
- How often do they perform these activities?
- Where do they perform these activities?
2. Qualitative User Research
Qualitative user research is a type of user research that relies on words and statements to measure the quality and meaning behind people’s experiences. It uses methods such as interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic field studies to understand what people are doing, why they do it, and how they do it. It helps answer questions like:
- What are users thinking?
- How do they feel about using this product or service?
- Why do people behave in certain ways?
- How can we get them to behave differently?
- What does it mean for users if we change something about our product or service?
Why is User Research Important?
To put it bluntly, user research helps you understand your customers. But just to put it in clear terms, here’s how it impacts your business growth;
- It gives you a real understanding of your customer’s behavior, therefore insight into how to position your solution to address their need and by extension increase your conversion rates.
- Besides increasing conversion rate, user research increases your revenue, as your sales volume increases because you have an understanding of how to reach your ideal customer, how to communicate to them, and most importantly how to meet their needs.
- User research increases customer loyalty by giving you insights that allow you to tailor your product or service to meet their real needs, giving them reasons to come back and even become loyal to your brand.
- The understanding gotten from customer or user research gives room to identify opportunities for growth within your business model.
- It increases your business net promoter score – the likelihood for your customers to refer your business to someone else.
- It helps manage cost and business resources by minimizing development time and cost in building solutions customers will not use or interact with.
- User research helps you understand how users feel about your company or product, which allows you to make improvements that will boost the growth of your business.
Other Benefits of User Research to a Business
- Helps to create a better product.
- Helps to create a better customer experience.
- Helps to create a better marketing strategy.
- Helps to create a better team.
- Helps to create a better business.
You can use this information to create products that better serve their needs, design an experience that meets their expectations, and develop a customer service strategy that keeps them coming back for more.
Methods of Conducting User Research
There are different methods to conduct depending on your product or service type. The most common being;
- User interviews: This is one of the most common methods of conducting user research. It’s a one-on-one conversation between you and your users or prospective users/customers, where you can ask them questions about their needs and expectations. This is the most common form of user research. The benefit of this method is that it allows you to get some insight into what people are thinking and feeling, which can be difficult to do with other methods. You can conduct an interview with a single user or with multiple people.
- User surveys: Surveys are an efficient way to gather information from a large number of users. It allows you to collect feedback from many users at once, which can be helpful if you’re trying to understand the needs and expectations of a large group of people.
- They are often used in conjunction with other methods, such as interviews and usability testing. Surveys can be done online or offline. Online surveys allow you to survey people quickly and cheaply, but they require respondents to have access to a computer or mobile device when answering questions.
- User observation: Observing users is a great way to learn about their behaviors, motivations, and needs. It can be done by watching people use your product in real life or by recording them while they do so. This method allows you to observe how users interact with your product in different environments; this may help you identify issues that aren’t evident during usability testing.
- User reviews: User reviews are a great way to learn about your users’ experiences with your product. You can ask users for their opinions on various aspects of the product and compare their answers with those of other customers. This will give you valuable feedback on how well you’re meeting customer expectations.
- Focus groups: Focus groups can be a great way to get feedback on your product. A focus group is a small group of people who are asked to discuss an issue or topic in-depth and provide their opinions on it. You can use focus groups to test out new features, design elements, or even entire products before launching them. This can help you gauge how well these features will perform in the market before making any major investments.
- Usability testing: Usability testing is the process of getting feedback from real users on your product. You can do this by asking users to try out your app or website and then giving them a specific set of tasks to perform. Then, you watch what they do and record their actions as well as any difficulties they encounter. From here, you can identify areas where people have problems with the design or interface of your product and make improvements based on their feedback.
- A/B testing: A/B testing is a method of comparing two different versions of a product (often called “variants”) and seeing which one performs better. This can be done in many ways, such as comparing the number of clicks or purchases that occur on each variant or tracking user behavior over time. You can also use A/B testing to compare different user interfaces or designs for a given feature.
- Participatory design: Participatory design is a process that involves users from the very beginning of the design process. You can do this by holding workshops or other types of sessions where users are brought into the office and asked about their needs, wants, and frustrations with your product. This way, you will gain valuable insights into how people use your product on a day-to-day basis and what they would like to see changed or improved upon in future versions.
- Field Studies: Field studies are another way to get feedback from users. They involve sending out researchers to observe people using your product in the real world and then coming back to the office with notes and observations about what they saw. You can also set up focus groups or user interviews, where people are asked questions about how they use your product and what they think needs improving.
When Should User Research Be Conducted?
User research should be conducted as early as possible in a business. The more information you have about how people use your product or service, the more informed decisions you can make about how to improve it. For example, if you’re starting a new business that allows people to purchase items online and ship them directly to their homes, you must get feedback from your target audience on how they currently buy online, and use this information to better design your business and business model.
Also, user research is not a one-off exercise, but it should be a continuous process, you should conduct user testing and other forms of user research before you release new features or make any changes to a product. This will give you an idea of how users will react to what you’ve created before it goes live and causes any problems for your business.
While various aspects of business are important in bringing about growth to a business, user research and a deep understanding of customers are important to ensure that a business has a strong foundation, and can continue to grow and expand by building on this knowledge.
In the end, we believe that when conducted properly and properly utilized, user research is an essential tool for business growth. It helps you understand your customers better, make informed decisions based on data and analytics, and improve products and services.