This video discusses the importance of asking the right questions for user experience research and crafting them in an unbiased, precise way so that you get the most accurate possible feedback.
- When creating the test plan, it's crucial to spend time crafting appropriate questions that speak to your goals, and that users are capable of answering. First, you want to be sure that your questions are neutral and non-leading. For instance, if there's a new feature and you're trying to understand if participants are interested, don't ask them how much they like it. Subconsciously, that question suggests that participants should like it, and people may answer more positively than they really feel. Instead, ask how they feel about it, without mentioning emotionally-linked words.
Another way to get around biased questions is to frame them with both negative and positive responses embedded in the question. For instance, asking something like: Is this feature helpful or unhelpful to you, and why? Rather than, how helpful is this feature? It's a subtle shift, but making sure your questions don't lead participants one way or another is very important. You also have to be careful that you craft questions that have the appropriate level of precision for people to be able to answer. If you're simply interested in a status, such as level of education, or employment, then go ahead and ask what is called a closed question, which means that you supply a set of answers for participants to select from.
Closed questions are also useful when you're trying to gather quantitative data, such as how someone rates the ease of use of a piece of software. Otherwise, you'll want to ask more open-ended questions, which are by nature more exploratory and allow users to give details and context that even the most experienced researcher won't think of to ask. It can be harder to analyze the data from open-ended questions, but you get much richer qualitative data. When it comes to researching behaviors, unless you're directly observing the participants, you need to ask people about things that have happened recently or that they do regularly in order for them to be able to answer well.
For instance, if you ask what someone ate for breakfast this morning, or what time they usually get to work, they should be able to answer that accurately. However, if you ask what somebody ate for lunch three Tuesdays ago, chances are they won't remember, but they'll feel compelled to make something up. It's human nature for participants to feel uncomfortable when they don't know an answer, so try to give them something that they're capable of answering. Similarly, people aren't good at predicting their future behavior, but they feel compelled to say something that sounds reasonable and makes them look good.
For instance, imagine that you're doing research for a grocery store, and ask people what they intend to buy on their next shopping trip. They may state that they'll buy only healthy food and household necessities. However, if you monitor their receipts after, you may see that they also bought ice cream and chips. Maybe they always intended to buy those things, and they were just embarrassed to say so, or maybe they really were planning on buying just vegetables, but gave into a craving. You won't know either way if you only ask about the future, so keep that in mind, and other examples like this, when you're crafting your research plans and questions.
You also have to remember to be sensitive to potentially embarrassing or very personal topics, such as finances or healthcare. People may be reluctant to be completely candid about some topics, so take care to give participants an easy way to opt out of questions. Only ask the questions that are really helpful to you, and be careful with your wording. Just like you don't want to be biased, you don't want the questions to seem as though they're passing judgment. It can also be helpful to let participants know why a certain piece of information you're asking about is necessary.
For instance, if you're doing research on a fitness tracker, and you're considering adding a food tracker to the app, give them a bit of context, so it doesn't seem like you're just being intrusive. Finally, try to find an appropriate balance of getting detailed information and not overwhelming participants or letting yourself get burnt out. There's no one magical time for each participant to spend, but in general, unmoderated research sessions should be short, maybe five minutes for a survey, or 20 minutes for a usability test.
If either are too long, participants are likely to become disengaged and opt out part way through. You'll have better luck keeping participants engaged for longer when you're moderating the sessions directly, but in most cases, you'll still want to cap each session at about an hour. Planning the questions that you need to ask to get the most out of your research is one of the most vital steps of any kind of user experience research.
This course introduces the fundamentals of user experience research so that anyone can understand the benefits and start integrating research into their everyday design and development process. Start watching to learn how to use UX research to find the answers to the most basic questions about your customers—who, what, when, why, and how—and drive better user experiences and business outcomes.
- An overview of research methods, including usability testing, interviewing, eye tracking, surveys, and many more
- A review of the main types of research, including quantitative and qualitative, behavioral and attitudinal, and moderated vs. unmoderated
- Determining the right methodologies based on organizational environment, client type, and project stage
- Targeting the right research participants
- Crafting the right questions in the right way
- Analyzing and presenting your data