What is user research?


research (Photo credit: suttonhoo)

The terms user experience and user research are often thrown around, but the truth is these terms have very clear, if broad, definitions.

  • User experience is the sum of a person’s interaction with a product or service.
  • We often include a person’s ability to use the product or service, a person’s feelings towards the product or service, a person’s perception of the product or service, as well as the resulting reactions and behaviors in the implied meaning of the term.
  • User research, or user experience research, is a set of techniques and methodologies implemented to create and improve the user experience.
  • User research involves strategy, defining specifications and relationships, setting priorities, and investigating interactions and architectures as well as the sensory experience (e.g. vision, touch, hearing).
  • User research combines knowledge in psychology, neuroscience, statistics, computer science, engineering, art, design, business, and marketing; sometimes it may include knowledge from biology, anatomy, geography, anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, set theory, and sociology.

The next questions that naturally come up are:

  • Why conduct user experience research?
  • How do I conduct user experience research?
  • What do I need to know to conduct user research?

We’ll be following up over the coming weeks to answer these questions. Stay tuned!


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