The UX Researcher's Mindset

Stepping into a researcher’s mindset can be overwhelming for some individuals. There aren’t any firm rules for achieving this; however, by building your own researcher’s mindset, you can ensure that your findings are valid and reliable. This article aims to answer any questions you may have about the researcher’s mindset, helping you achieve success in this field.

How do you move into the mindset of a skillful UX researcher?

There is a time for exploring and a time to focus. When you’re ready to move on to creating real documentation and assets, focusing on the end goal is paramount.

First, you need to think about the interview process. Interviewing different users and clients can be customized to meet the tone and mannerisms of the individual, but this does take quite some time to master.

There are a few things you need to be thinking about when cultivating a researcher’s mindset when asking questions.

Is a repeatable and verifiable process being followed?

A detailed process is necessary in order to ask the right questions; if this is not done, it cannot be repeated and loses its authority as a valid resource. 

Are you confident that the questions you’re asking are right?

You need to ask the right questions to be a great researcher. This means unbiased, neutral questions that will give you the factual information needed for the UX research.

Are the questions staying on target?

It is not uncommon for answers to take a turn down a different route, and it often derails the interview process. Make sure this doesn't happen by steering the questions in the way that will most benefit your research.           

It may be necessary to give the participants room to answer or talk through their thinking. If the question doesn’t give the participant room to talk about the real issues, they may go on a tangent, and you can then understand the real issues they face. As a result, you can reevaluate your questions to address them better.

What’s more, feedback is key. It’s often a waiting game while the clients fill it out, so patience is always important, especially when the results come in and the research can be seen in full.

After all of this has been done, you now need to look at the feedback and see what can be improved when questions are concerned for next time.

User research is not a new invention

It’s no surprise for you to learn that user research and how we conduct user research are not new. It began to gain traction in the early ’90s when Don Norman, working at Apple, came up with the term ‘user experience. He predicted that by 2050 there would be over 100 million UX professionals. And with the UX industry growing by the day, this prediction doesn't look far off.

Research can be carried out in many different ways. Which is the right way?

The way you carry out research is done in a contextual manner by viewing the way users and clients interact with their environment and the decisions they make.
You might have a step-by-step approach to performing research. However, many people often wonder if you need to perform every step during the process.

One thing you should know is that research is not a linear process. Some steps need to be done again if there is an error or an anomaly; being flexible with your methods can be useful when the interview doesn’t go as planned or the participants respond unexpectedly.

Become an expert in UX research and the subject you need to research

All the best UX researchers know everything there is to know regarding UX research. This includes becoming extremely familiar with the subject that’s being researched so the best questions can be asked to users and clients.

Sometimes you need to take a step back from a subject and look at it from a different angle. This will allow you to research, ask questions, and perform your duties more objectively, providing more reliable research than if you had not done this.

However, this isn’t all you need to do to adopt a researcher's mindset. It would help if you also thought of things outside of research. Problems are likely to arise, and you need to find a solution for all of them without them affecting your research. At the end of the day, you are there to give your users and clients a voice of how they believe things to be and come to a conclusion about how things are and what can be done to improve the UX design.

To wrap up

Although there is not just a single approach to performing user and client research, by adopting a researcher’s mindset, you can create a repeatable and reliable process to ask the right questions and come up with the right results for your research. 

Are you in need of seasoned UX designers? If so, contact us today.


Consumer Marketing Methods Insights for UX Research

It’s no secret that user experience research (UXR) and consumer marketing have been the center point of conversation in the design industry. The UX sector has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Consumer marketing is also seeing dramatic changes as research continues to improve the field.

Although UX and consumer marketing are two separate sectors, they have features that intersect, allowing researchers in both of them to learn from one another. For the purpose of this post, we will look at how researchers with a branded mindset can produce more value during user experience research.

User experience research is essential for the intended user and the client

Understanding the unique position that UXR has in UX means that different interests can be identified among stakeholders, designers, and users. However, many of these interests are interconnected. The main force connecting all of these interests is the brand.

With the UXR being located between the user and client, both benefit greatly. The user receives their wants, and the client can achieve their overall goals, creating the best possible situation for both parties.

As a result, UXR plays an important role in helping implement positive change. And it goes without saying that this type of research is fundamental in consumer marketing and can be achieved by discussing core elements connected to the brand.

Understanding that customers have a plethora of choices

Emotions and other factors can affect how users navigate certain things. Therefore, it’s essential for UX research to include brand-experience factors. If not, understanding user engagement and how long they’ll be engaged (even if barriers occur) in the product will be hard to determine.

When users interact with great interfaces that have clear connections to the brand, it’s suggested that they will be more understanding if issues occur. However, the same cannot be said if the brand isn’t clearly represented.

User experience research is so much more than just identifying pain points for users. In addition, it’s about finding the brand interface's effect in terms of a social and sensory experience for the user in question.

How brand perception impacts UXR

User perceptions of brands can determine how their products are viewed. So, brands must learn to capture users’ attention.

The consistency of the experience is also essential. If done correctly, the overall opinion of the company will likely improve. When UXR is concerned, it’s typically focused on the user’s experience with technology. However, when adding consumer marketing into the mix, it’s easy to see that the technology experience is also a brand experience, meaning that the research should include more factors.

Qualitative data that identifies pain points commonly shows a user's digital experience and perception of a brand; this data is intertwined in many cases. Furthermore, every moment reviewed could invoke different reactions due to emotions. It can be said that the cumulative response to the amalgamation of points will develop the perception of the overall brand.

To explore this in more detail, say all touchpoints benefit the user, apart from one. As a result, the brand is likely to be perceived by the negative point rather than all the good ones. This leads the user to view the brand poorly, especially if the negative touchpoint is significant. Thankfully, journey mapping, which is used a lot in consumer research, can be implemented in UXR.

This helps to understand what emotional responses are triggered from different touchpoints. Overall, it can determine how the brand is seen through users' eyes.

Looking at macro and micro perspectives

 If we draw our attention to some of the biggest global brands, you can see their identity is integrated with user experience. Take Coca-Cola, for example; the bottle is uniquely shaped and has a tint of green. Or look at Apple; the well-known brand shows the difficulty of trying to remove user experience from a brand’s identity. All interactions that users have with Apple products show that there’s no escaping brand identity.

To some extent, UX researchers look at the user experience's micro elements, but macro-level factors should also be considered. Macro aspects of the brand identity can influence micro experiences by affecting cognitive and emotional responses. That’s why UXR needs to understand how users look at the brand aesthetics of products and how the brand is viewed overall.

Need help from UX professionals?

At Radiant, our team consists of highly passionate UX designers. We help businesses connect with their audiences without the hurdles of poor interface design and more. Contact us today to learn more!

 


Unearthing the Discovery Phase in UX Research

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” Alexander Graham Bell

Discovery Phase in UX Research

Discovery Phase in UX Research is one of the first quintessential steps in the User Experience Journey.  During this phase, the UX Researcher partakes in uncovering the fundamental and preliminary aspects, such as initiating conversational meetings to understand and develop rapport with the associated stakeholders in a preeminence way. This engagement process will help contribute to a successful UX design implementation product.

Let’s unearth how and why this phase is an important part of the UX Research journey.

What is Discovery Phase in UX Research?

To begin working on the UX Design of any commodity/product, whether as a new launch or enhancing an existing feature as a UX researcher, we should first lay the foundational base to the UX Research Roadmap, which is often referred to as Discovery Phase.

Definition

“Discovery phase is a preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem(s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.”

Prepping up

To begin with, as a UX researcher, one has to gain insights into the current scenario and the project's strengths and weaknesses. This is done by initiating communications with the stakeholders. The next process to perform would be identifying and mapping key stakeholders. This is followed by recruiting and scheduling research interview sessions. Next, UX researchers dive further to read/learn the subject matter of the related project documentation and vital user data information.

What Happens Next?

Once the groundwork is readily set, there would be one high-level Discovery session conducted by the UX Researchers with a core group of members. That would include Client team members such as Project Managers, Architects, IT team members, Business Stakeholders, and end users. This is to understand the main objective and get the ball rolling. The high-level agenda comprises-

  • Team Introductions
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Project scope
  • Formalities
  • User requirements
  • Observations
  • Justification for the work
  • Deadlines
  • Constraints (Budget, Technical tools, Company guidelines)
  • Attaining key contacts list
  • Questionnaires
  • Additional cardinal features

Discovery Phase’s Analytical Approach

Analytically, being a part of the qualitative research method Discovery phase provides insights into the user's behavioral and attitudinal perspectives, observations about tools, and other related activities. Once the analyzed information results are mapped and documented accurately, the UX Research team will start working on the next steps.

By brainstorming, prioritizing, selecting, and shortlisting the core features, this analytical approach helps execute the UX Research & Design process by

Fundamental Checkpoints in Discovery Phase

Listed below are basic fundamental checkpoints that are most commonly followed in a typical UX Discovery Phase scenario:

  1. Study / Read / Understand
  2. Identification / Classification
  3. Recruitment
  4. Scheduling User Interviews
  5. Building Rapport
  6. Observations
  7. Gaining Insights
  8. Consolidated Analysis
  9. Planning UX Strategy
  10. Next Research Phase Journey

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Run Contextual Inquiry
  • Understanding the target audience
  • Competitive Analysis - Comparing with other companies/organizations
  • Investigate user experience hypotheses
  • Assumption Mapping - Validate initial user experience assumptions

(Resource reference - Bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/ux)

What Next?

Setting standards in the Post-Discovery phase, we are now well prepared with a clear vision for the future UX Research Process. We can begin the next phase in the Research phase series with great tenacity- The Empathy phase.

To learn more about the process of in-depth investigative Discovery Phase and other important phases in UX Research, please reach out to our dedicated UX Research Professionals at Radiant Digital.

 


UX Design Principles for Augmented Reality

What is UX design for Augmented Reality?

User experience design is the process of designing a product, service, or website that takes the real needs of the users into account. Excellent UX design places the user at the center and enables a seamless flow of information or interaction. It is about intuition, empathy, and human psychology.

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows designers to enhance the perception of the real, physical world using computer-generated content. With augmented reality apps, UX design offers a seamless blend of software and hardware. AR experiences depend on the user’s natural environment, so the UX must be spatial, interactive, and contextual. This is quite a hard balance to strike.

To create a great AR experience, it is helpful to follow a few key UX design principles that we’ve highlighted below

The Five Pillars of Great UX for Augmented Reality

Interaction and visual interest are at the heart of every UX element for augmented reality. Users want to enter a virtual, augmented space and do not want to be distracted by unimportant or unappealing details. Keep these five principles in mind when designing UX for AR:

1.   Environment

AR experiences are spatially and intimately connected with the real world. The UX experience must therefore be tailored to the environment and capable of adapting to any environment the user finds themselves in.

As designers, one of the best ways to learn about how to use the environment effectively is by getting out of your office and experimenting in the real world. In general, the environment can be categorized in four distinct ways regarding the distance from the user:

  • Intimate Space
  • Personal Space
  • Social Space
  • Public Space

Designers must try to think creatively about each type of environmental space and how the UX will change in each one.

2.   Onboarding

Making your AR user experience friendly and engaging can be pretty challenging. By focusing on user onboarding, you will give yourself the best chance to make your UX enjoyable and practical. Often, you can’t just rely on basic markers and overlays to deliver the information. You must complete the onboarding experience more interactive, intuitive, and, most importantly, fun!

3.   Movement

How does your product or service integrate with your users’ habits and needs? Movement is the key to engaging your users’ minds and allowing them to understand the experience physically and psychologically.

An AR experience should make full use of the space around the user and enhance the way users interact with the real world. To understand movement as a designer, you have to get out of your seat and experiment with how your experience works in real space.

Your AR app may visually guide the user, but it’s important not to dictate specific directions and instead grant the user some freedom with the way they move.

4.   User Interface

User Interface (UI) in AR can consist of augmented reality elements and traditional screen space. As a designer, you may need to design different yet interchangeable UI experiences for both. This presents a significant but exciting challenge to designers and developers.

How can you use UI in the augmented space to boost immersion and deliver new experiences? Alternatively, how can you use screen space UI to provide crucial information and enhance the AR experience? These are some of the questions you should be asking when thinking about the interaction between UI and AR.

5.   Interaction

In the world of AR, interaction is different. In regular apps, there are quite a few limitations on the user experience. With AR, you can expand the user experience and experiment with your interactions.

Users can move the entire device to initiative functionalities and move between various spatial interactions. It is important to make these interactions as intuitive and responsive as possible to ensure users get the most out of your features and continue to engage with your designs.

Excelling in the Realm of Augmented Reality

Paying attention to these five pillars will give yourself and your team the best chance of succeeding in your augmented reality pursuits. The potential for AR development is exciting. So, anyone involved in design and UX should be looking to AR as a new avenue to be explored.

To learn more about UX design principles and augmented reality, please contact our UX experts.


Connect with your users through persuasive design

What is the best way to understand your users? How can you make the most of the data you have on your users? And what steps can you make to enhance your overall design development process?

These are some of the most important questions being asked by designers and within UX design teams. One of the best ways to answer these questions is turning to a design tool and technique called Persuasive Design. In this blog, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about persuasive design.

What is Persuasive Design? 

Persuasive design is a fascinating practice area within the world of design that focuses on influencing user behavior through the characteristics of a product or service. It is a tool based on social and psychological theories used throughout e-commerce, retail, and organizational management.

The persuasive design has proven to be an effective tool in several fields because it can target a group’s long-term engagement. With the persuasive design,  you can encourage continued custom by understanding how your users operate and how they might behave with your product or service. 

The Psychology of Persuasive Design

The psychology of persuasive design is not complicated, nor is it evil. It is a tool, like any other, that can be used for good and misused by bad actors. It is essential to know that with targeted research and thoughtful application, that persuasive design can be a crucial element in the toolkit of any designer.

To truly understand the psychology of persuasive design, you have to understand how persuasion works and how persuasion functions in the context of design. So let's take a look at this trinity of persuasion.

The Trinity of Persuasion

Everyone is familiar with the concept of persuasion. It is a communication technique used every day in every part of our lives. Yet many people may not understand how persuasion works. For designers, it is important to understand how persuasion functions because it is a key element in getting users to engage with and enjoy your designs.

The Trinity of Persuasion is made up of Logos, Pathos, and Ethos:

     1. Logos - Appealing to Logic

A persuader relies on facts and figures to convince their audience by appealing to logic. Instead of emotion, they turn to experts and reputable sources to support their ideas and features. This logical, practical, and solid approach is an important part of persuasion for many people.

       2. Pathos - Appealing to Emotions

On the opposite side of logic, you’ll find emotion. In the context of persuasion, pathos is about appealing to emotions. To some people, facts and figures are cold, lifeless, and challenging to connect with. This is where pathos can come in.

Pathos is about delivering a persuasive argument in a way that appeals to your audience’s emotions. You might want to start with logic and then drive the point home with an emotional statement or an emotional story. In design, you have to be aware of this emotional element and understand how important stories are to how we interact with products, services, and sites.

   3. Ethos - Appealing to Ethics, Morals, and Character

Beyond logic and emotion, there is the concept of ethos. In the context of persuasive design, ethos is about recognizing and appealing to the ethics and morals of your audience and user base. In the current market, consumers are more conscious than ever about where their products and services come from and how they are made. You will succeed if you can create a design that appeals to your audience’s moral and ethical sensibilities.

 


All three elements of persuasion are crucial factors to consider when thinking about persuasive design. 

  • How are your designs supported by the latest research and studies?
  • How does your design tell a story and connect with users on an emotional level?
  • What is the context of your product or service? What is the ethical or moral story behind your design and creation process?

Ethos, pathos, and logos interweave throughout the design process, and when they work in harmony, they can be very persuasive.  To learn more about persuasive design, check out this video by Dr. Eric Schaffer, “The Process of Persuasive Design in Six Steps.”.

Your Persuasive Design

Persuasive design is a valuable tool that various designers can use in several ways. Once you understand the trinity of persuasion, you will be better able to make the most of this design tool.

Remember, persuasion is not deception. As with every step of the design process, persuasive design is about understanding and pleasing your users and customers.

Your persuasive design will be different from your competitors because it will be infused with your personality, skills, and goals. If you’re keen to try out persuasive design, now's the time to get started!

To learn more about persuasive design and the world of UX, please get in touch with our UX experts.


Dark Mode vs. Light Mode: Which is Better?

We spend a lot of time staring at screens. Our reliance on digital interfaces has increased during the pandemic, and our screen time has also arisen. Half of the respondents to a survey taken earlier this year stated that, on average, they spent five to six hours on their phone daily, not including work-related smartphone use. Today, you now have a choice for how the interface on your phone looks. One of the simplest choices that can significantly impact your user experience is whether to go 'Dark Mode' or 'Light Mode.'

In this post, we've explored the debate between Dark Mode vs. Light Mode.

What is Dark Mode?

In the world user interface, 'Contrast Polarity' describes the contrast between the test and the background on a screen. In this context, 'Positive Contrast Polarity' refers to dark text on a light background (Light Mode). And 'Negative Contrast Polarity' refers to light text on a dark background (Dark Mode). Since digital screens first emerged on the market, devices have flicked back and forth between dark and light modes. For a long time, the light mode was the default on modern smartphones, but the dark way has made a strong resurgence in recent years. Dark mode displays produce less light than light mode displays which may affect both power consumption and how we perceive the information presented to us on the screen. To understand the impact of using dark mode compared to light mode, we must look at how the human eye works.

Sensitivity and visual performance

The pupil is a gateway through which light reaches the eye's retina. The human pupil changes size depending on ambient and direct sunlight in the environment. When there is plenty of sunshine, the pupil contracts, and when it is dark, the pupil dilates to let in more light. These biological elements are something that UI and UX designers and developers have to consider when putting together interfaces. For example, when the pupil is smaller, the eye is less susceptible to aberrations and increases the depth of field. In this context, the eye doesn't have to work as hard, and it is less likely to tire.

However, if the pupil is too small, which sometimes happens as we age, not enough light will enter the eye, and our ability to read the text and perceive images on a screen in low ambient light will be impaired. Equally, as we get older, we often become more susceptible to glare, a frustrating element that is more likely under bright sunlight. Beyond a stylistic desire, the creation of dark mode seems to be an attempt to accommodate a wide variety of sensitivities to light. Even though people with normal vision are well catered for with positive contrast polarity, dark mode is a valuable way to broaden the accessibility options for the user interface.

Dark Mode

Advantages

  • May use less energy than light mode allowing your phone battery to last longer.
  • It can potentially lessen eye strain in low-light conditions.
  • Suitable for low-light conditions, especially when you don't want your phone to be a beacon of light, e.g., in bed or a cinema.
  • Preferably to light mode before you sleep because it emits less 'blue light.'

Disadvantages

  • The dark mode is not always suitable for eye strain, as text is sometimes washed out against a dark background.
  • Less valuable if you are surrounded by bright ambient light

Light Mode

Advantages

  • Many web pages, apps, and interfaces will have been optimized for the standard light mode.
  • If you have standard/normal vision, light visual performance is usually better with light mode.

Disadvantages

  • May drain your battery faster than dark mode, depending on your screen.
  • Not discreet.
  • More likely to keep you awake if used before sleep because of the amount of 'blue light' emitted.

Your choice: Dark Mode vs. Light Mode

Ultimately, visual performance tends to be better with light mode for most people. However, some people with cataracts and related disorders may prefer the visuals provided in a dark mode. The advantages of dark mode over light mode also depend on the type and duration of usage. For most people, the decision will come down to personal preference and habit. Additionally, the overall effectiveness of either mode can be modified, on the iPhone, by switching on Night Shift or by utilizing True Tone. With every new release and new phone, the accessibility options are growing. This is true for Apple, Samsung, and Google regarding hardware and software.

To learn more about digital interfaces and visual performance, feel free to reach out to our UX experts.


Incorporating UX Research to Inform Business Strategy in Tech

In the context of the modern tech sector, user experience (UX) researchers, UX research (UXR) approaches, and methods can greatly improve business strategy.  Though UXR is commonly employed in designing software or devices or as part of the service design process, this practice can also provide essential insight and expertise in formulating business strategy.  UXR leverages a powerful mindset and methodological toolkit to ground strategy in the actual needs of customers or the workforce charged with fulfilling customer needs in UXR oriented toward enterprise software or other technology.  Incorporating UXR as a component of business strategy is analogous to making a roadmap from the deep knowledge of the land rather than a cursory survey or guessing based on a few opinions.

The Value Add of UXR in Business Strategy: Beyond Apps

While the most well-known role for a UXR practitioner is to be embedded and work closely with a design or design and development team, the capability these professionals bring to an enterprise extends far beyond the proximate level of product design.  UXR adds value to business strategy because of the broad knowledge base, varied experiences, and can-do mindset of these experts.

For example, UXR is essential to an adaptation of the design thinking process to service design.  Service design applies design thinking to optimize service by directly improving an employee’s user experience of workflows or processes and indirectly improving customer experience.  Service design may be a strategy component, especially when there is a need to pivot or change the business culture to adapt to changing circumstances or customer needs.

Another vital element UXR perspectives can offer to business strategy is an ethical framework based on a deep empathy for the constituents of a business, be they external customers or internal stakeholders.  For instance, social scientists with long careers in UXR, such as Ken Anderson (Intel) and Sam Ladner (Workday), have been instrumental in ensuring that scientifically based ethical considerations are surfaced in strategy sessions with key corporate leaders.

UXR in discovery research and exploratory research can be crucial in knowing when to adopt an initiative or product a bit, pivot, or scrap an idea entirely in the startup world.  In my previous work in startups, there was one case where I used the research method of netnography, a modified approach to ethnography focused heavily on online interaction. It helped guide the design of a property tech application whose purpose was to help people get to know their neighbors more readily in dense, urban settings.  This study surfaced themes of buying and selling goods, leisure, and real estate on Facebook interest groups geared toward the target market.  These insights helped target the UX design of the application and informed the launch strategy.  Alternatively, I led an exploratory research project that triggered the indefinite parking of an application that a CEO thought was a great idea but about which a sample of people in the target demographic was decidedly unfavorable.  This decision was demotivating in the short term but saved the startup time and money to focus on more important initiatives in the long term.

Incorporating UXR into strategic decision-making enables companies to form a complete picture of the current state of affairs, discern how well a current initiative does or meets user needs, or spot emergent opportunities.  For instance, discovery research is a highly effective way to map out what sort of initiative to embark upon or what product to build.  Similarly, ethnographic research as part of a mixed-methods approach that incorporates quantitative trend data can yield insight into the lived experience of workers or potential customers that can surface blue ocean opportunities.

UXR Approaches to Business Strategy

Two UXR-related approaches positively impact business strategy; these approaches are research strategy and strategic research.  While research strategy is the process of formulating and executing a grand vision of how the research will ensure and amplify enterprise success, strategic research is research conducted to set direction, map out strategic initiatives, or surface new opportunities.  Research strategy and strategic research are complementary modalities of crafting a business strategy that is attuned to the needs of internal and external stakeholders and maximally effective in achieving business goals.

In practice, an effective research strategy entails having a UXR or other type of research practitioner with enough access to senior leadership and decision-making authority to determine the direction and execution of UXR or other types of research that benefit an enterprise.  Areas of responsibility for a research strategist should include:

  • overall vision and mission for the research group or function;
  • research topics;
  • research project plans including, goal, design, and methodology;
  • research team organization and deployment;
  • personnel allocation to projects;
  • training;
  • and having a voice in research budgets.

All of these aspects of research strategy must tie in directly to business goals and objectives.

For strategic research, key considerations involve researching early enough in strategic initiative formulation to positively impact selecting initiatives that balance innovation and business goals with the reality, needs, and pain points of the people who would execute or benefit from said initiatives.  Discovery research is a strong approach to strategic research because it takes place before formulating an initiative or design of a product.  Examples of strategic discovery research include Facebook’s pathfinding program or an ethnography of the “day in the life” of a potential customer base that yields insight and recommendations for a new service or product line.  Strategic research is a key feature in building or doing what has the most value for the enterprise and impact for its customers.

Businesses would employ UXR in research strategy, strategic research, or research strategy and strategic research done in concert in the tech spaces.

Wrapping Up

UXR is a transformative value-add for business strategy and can be employed comprehensively and flexibly to realize the grand vision and achieve business goals.

Radiant Digital’s growing UXR practice is ready to transform your business strategy with keen insights and a deep understanding of people.  We are committed to guiding a winning corporate strategy in the ever-changing digital economy.