Rick Kelly is the Chief Product Officer at Fuel cycle. His passion is helping brands unlock the power of customer intelligence.
The digital landscape continues to expand at a rapid pace. But while this presents opportunities for brands, it also comes with some challenges. For example, due to the proliferation of online websites, consumers have more choices than ever before. But when consumers have more choices, distinguishing a brand from its competitors is even more important — and much more difficult.
Another challenge facing brands coincides with the growth of digital transformation. According to IDC, “Global spending on digital transformation (DX) of business practices, products and organizations is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion by 2025.” Rising costs mean software development will become more expensive as more brands invest in their digital footprint.
Overcoming these challenges requires brands to get to the heart of what consumers want. This way, they can stand out in the crowded online market and create the right product without wasting time or money on rework. Prioritizing user experience (UX) can help them do that.
The importance of UX research
Today’s consumers expect a high-impact digital presence from brands. Slow loading websites, poor usability and confusing interfaces all contribute to poor UX. One solution to avoid this is UX research.
Brands need to know what consumers value in a digital experience and deliver it to them so they can develop the right products at the right time and core customer bases don’t go to their competitors. Investing in UX research not only helps brands improve their products to attract existing and potential customers, but also ensures that their online presence doesn’t fall behind — critical in a world where consumers can quickly move on to the next thing.
By helping brands identify what consumers want and need, UX research can reduce customer churn and increase customer satisfaction. Using either qualitative or quantitative methodologies, UX research identifies what end users value in an experience, avoiding unnecessary guesswork on the part of the brand. UX research is key for brands to stay competitive in today’s saturated market.
For UX research that earns the badge, consider two critical best practices:
Pay attention to trends that will affect UX
Consumer values are rarely static. Instead, they align with what is happening in the world. For example, recent inflation has made consumers more concerned about finding deals than ever before and spending less where possible, affecting their shopping habits. UX research can help brands become aware of trends to ensure their UX reflects what consumers value at all times.
For example, inclusivity is an element that brands should plan for as they design their website’s UX. If a website doesn’t include today, not only will brands lose potential customers, but it could also negatively impact their reputation. UX research helps brands circumvent these issues.
When brands use UX research, they ensure that their designs are responsive to various cultures, genders, age groups, disabilities, and other factors. This could mean incorporating more diverse emoji, offering websites in multiple languages, and making web content accessible to people with disabilities.
Another trend that brands should consider is responsive design. With next-generation technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality growing in popularity, brands will need to design and optimize their websites for even more screen sizes to ensure a smooth experience regardless of the devices they use the consumers. Not optimizing a website can alienate consumers and make them look for options that prioritize the devices they use. UX research allows brands to know what devices consumers frequent so they can adjust their websites accordingly.
Refine your interview research questions
UX research is critical to understanding consumer values, behaviors, wants, and needs, and then using that information to inform products or services. The way to gain this knowledge is through interviewing customers. But effective interviews require asking the right questions. The broad topic of the interview should inform the questions asked, such as Millennial shopping habits. Brainstorming with people from different departments such as market research and product teams can help formulate relevant questions.
Then explore each idea in more depth to find the topic that best fits the purpose of the interview. For example, if you are conducting an interview to determine how Millennials prefer to shop, what they do while they shop, and where they shop, then choose the topic “Millennial Shopping Habits.”
After finalizing a research idea, identify questions related to the overall research objective and make sure they are clear enough for participants to understand. This means avoiding technical terms or jargon when writing questions and being as specific as possible so participants know the answer to give.
Finally, eliminate biases that may influence participant responses by streamlining the questions. Questions should avoid references to specific feelings. Ask respondents how they feel about a product or service by asking, “How did you feel when you used our product?” rather than leading with an emotional state like, “How happy were you when you used our product?”
As brands vie for consumer attention and build products that resonate with users in a digital world, UX research is vital. Knowing the trends affecting UX and refining interview survey questions are two ways brands can obtain high-quality UX research. A UX research strategy that evolves with consumer values enables brands to create experiences that align with their target audience and ultimately convert them into customers.
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