There is one surefire way to tell if you are dealing with an amateur app developer or a seasoned pro. The amateur will almost always insist that they can do all of their research, testing, and release of an app with a stellar user experience(UX) out of the gate, the first time.
The professional developer knows this is a heap of bunk. UX research must come early during development -- preferably before a single line of code is written. UX research helps you build a better product from the ground up and inevitably deliver a product with a UX that is what people want. The UX research is much the same, whether you are dealing with mobile app development or Web app development.
Quantitative & Qualitative UX Research
UX research is about finding out everything you can about user behavior, user needs, and user motivations. There are numerous techniques for deriving these answers, but there are only two general types of research: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is that which produces data that can be expressed numerically. Qualitative research is that which produces answers expressed as descriptions. This data can identify themes and patterns. Quantitative data tells you "how many" whereas qualitative data tells you "why" and "what." Ask a quantitative question of you want to know how many of your users fall into a particular demographic group. Ask a qualitative question if you want to know what features keep your users engaged in an app for longer periods of time.
Research Before, During, and After Mobile App Development & Web App Development
While it's important to conduct thorough research before you develop the app, some of research can only be done with a fully developed application.
Here are examples of the quantitative and qualitative UX research you can do. Some of this research must be done before mobile app development or Web app development begins. Other types can only be conducted after the app has been developed and is ready to be tested. You can do some at basically any phase of the mobile app development or Web app development process.
- Card sorting -- This user experience research gets users to group the information you plan to present in your app. It lets you know if your app's structure matches the way your users think.
- Context Interviews -- This research enables you to see how users use your app in a real-world environment.
- First-click testing -- This research lets you test the navigation of your app. It requires a functional app to do, however.
- Focus groups -- These are discussions, overseen by a moderator, that allow users to talk directly about their attitudes, their ideas, and what they want out of an app like yours.
- Expert Review -- This user experience research features a group of usability experts, who evaluate your app using a preset list of established guidelines.
- Individual interviews -- This research features one-on-one discussions with actual users. This research shows you detailed insight into the attitudes, wants, needs, and experiences of users individually.
- Surveys -- This is questions asked to multiple users. The survey lets you see what percentages of users think, act, or believe a certain way.
- System Usability Scale (SUS) -- This is a ten-point scale for determining how usable an app is.
- Usability testing -- This user experience research identifies what is causing users to become frustrated or experience problems with an app. It is done via one-on-one sessions with a real-world user doing real-world activities with the app.
- Use cases -- This involves developing a description of all the real-world scenarios in which a user would use this app. It delivers in-depth insight into how users interact with an app, and what steps they would take to accomplish real-world tasks with the app.
Are you ready to get started on mobile or Web app development, but you aren't sure where to begin or how to conduct the user experience research on your own? You can learn more when you download the Agile 101 Handbook now.