When to Use Which UX Research Method

With more than 50 UX research methods available, when or where in the design process is the best place to use them?

First, what does your organization or team want to learn more about?

  • Discovery & exploration
  • User behaviors
  • Navigation
  • Content & labeling
  • Design
  • Usability & validation
  • UX metrics
  • Innovation

Discovery & Exploration

Research goal: To discover unknown customer pain points or barriers that your product or organization might be able to solve.

Research goal: To gain a deeper understanding of a known customer pain point, barrier, current state experience, user preferences, etc.

UX research methods:

  • Interviews (phone or face-to-face)
  • Diary study
  • Ethnography / field study
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Collage study
  • Survey

User Behavior

Research goal: To better understand how your customers think and behave.

UX research methods:

  • Web analytics
  • Search log analysis
  • Customer listening
  • User session replay
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Ethnography / field study
  • Big data analysis
  • Text mining
  • Facial analysis
  • Social listening

Navigation

Research goal: To discover user priorities.

Research goal: To determine the best design way to organize information.

Research goal: To evaluate current or proposed navigation structure.

UX research methods:

  • Top task analysis
  • Card sort
  • Tree test
  • Usability study
  • Survey

Content & Labeling

Research goal: To evaluate the effectiveness of the content.

UX research methods:

  • Readability test
  • Cloze test
  • Tree test
  • Usability study
  • Tone of voice pairs
  • SUPR-Q

Design

Research goal: To evaluate the aesthetics of the design.

Research goal: To evaluate the effectiveness of the design and layout.

UX research methods:

  • Desirability test
  • Usability study
  • 5-second memory test
  • A/B test
  • Heat map
  • Scroll map
  • Eye-tracking study
  • Facial analysis
  • SUPR-Q

Usability & Validation

Research goal: To evaluate an idea, user flow, findability, or task completion rates.

UX research methods:

  • Usability study
  • Concept study
  • Kano analysis
  • Tree test
  • Wizard of oz test
  • A/B test
  • Fake door test
  • First-click test

UX Metrics

Research goal: To evaluate the effectiveness of the user experience.

Research goal: To benchmark performance over time or against competitors.

UX research methods & metrics:

  • CES
  • CSAT
  • SEQ
  • SUS
  • True intent
  • Mystery shopper
  • Web analytics
  • Heat map
  • Scroll map
  • SUPR-Q
  • Time on task
  • Task completion rate

Innovation

Research goal: To identify the next big idea.

UX research methods:

  • Customer workshop / focus group
  • Diary study
  • Concept testing
  • Kano analysis
  • Private community
  • Ethnography / field study
  • Interviews (phone or face-to-face)
  • Social listening
  • Speed dating

Related Articles

28 User Research Methods
How I Plan User Research

Author: Kristine Remer

Kristine Remer is an independent UX researcher & strategist in Minneapolis. Connect @ https://twitter.com/kristineremer