As discussed in previous posts, UX (User Experience) design trends can no longer be ignored, as organizations are pushed to provide audiences with seamless and convenient interactions. Conducting user research should be at the top of your organization’s list when discussing UX, as user experience cannot exist without users. User research will be the fuel to drive your design decisions and will help your organization learn about its users and their behavior, motivations, goals, and needs.

The Benefits of User Research

According to the UserTesting 2017 UX and User Research Industry Survey Report, “This year’s survey responses indicate a positive trend toward early, frequent research throughout the design, development, and optimization of digital products. Instead of relying on internal opinions, organizations are bringing the voice of the customer to their decision-making process from the earliest stages of product development.”. This is resulting in more customer-centered websites and better user experience. Today, organizations run the risk of becoming extinct without UX design as they are increasingly challenged to reach their audiences. One of the greatest benefits of user research is that it’s unbiased user feedback. The data you collect from your research will serve as a bridge between your user and organization.

Collecting the Data

User research should always come first in the UX design process. Without it, organizations run the risk of creating a website that is based off of their own experiences and assumptions. The UserTesting report also notes, “A well-rounded research strategy includes a variety of methodologies, including qualitative, quantitative, attitudinal, and behavioral research. Organizations that diversify their data sources end up with a more complete picture of their user experience than organizations that stick with only one method.”

Before getting started, it’s important to plan out how you will conduct your research. Here are a few things you should consider:

    1. Objectives. What are the knowledge gaps we need to fill?
    2. Hypotheses. What do we think we understand about our users?
    3. Methods. How will we gather insights?
    4. Participants: Who will we be gathering your insights from?
    5. Environment: Where will the study take place? Online or a physical location?
    6. Schedule: When will the testing begin? How long should each test, meeting or survey last? When will the findings report be generated?

Without answering these questions in the beginning, nonprofit organizations may end up losing focus, wasting efforts, or exhausting resources. Organizations should have a well-defined plan before reaching out to audiences to make sure their most important questions get answered.

User Research Methods

As mentioned, there are many different methods for conducting user research. By utilizing more than one, your nonprofit organization will have a much clearer view of your audience. There are many different types of user research – what works best for you will depend on your needs, budget, and the maturity of your organization. A few of the most popular methods among nonprofits include:

  • Surveys (in-person, web-based, email, etc.)
  • A/B Testing
  • Eye Tracking
  • Focus Groups
  • Usability Testing
  • Click Analysis

The method(s) you choose will depend on the questions your organization is looking to answer. For example, a survey is appropriate for collecting data on opinions, but not for interactions. Methods such as eye tracking and click analysis will help your organization better form conclusions in regards of usability and layout.

Findings Reports

Once you’ve conducted your user research, it’s important to organize your findings in order to record common insights. Findings reports will look different among organizations, however should include data, photos, videos, quotes and recommendations. Your findings can be shared throughout your nonprofit organization to better help members understand your community. This information will help create stronger connections, design a user-focused web experience, and help you accomplish your organization’s goals.

Are you preparing for a web design project? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. 

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