UX (user experience) design is still an abstract term for many companies, despite the increasing popularity of UX agencies. Many associate the user experience process with coding, developing websites, apps, software, or pure graphic design. In fact, they are all correct – in part at least.
What is lesser known is that research also plays a crucial role in the work of a user experience agency. UX designers aren’t just, well, designers. They also focus on helping you discover what the needs and expectations of your users are – and work accordingly.
What is user experience design? Why does an agency need to do research?
A user experience design agency focuses on a holistic process that encompasses any and all interactions your users may have with your product or service. This can be anything from starting up an application or software, clicking on a website’s specific element, or more importantly, completing a purchase or subscribing to a monthly service.
The main goal here is to increase customer satisfaction. After all, no business can thrive if its customers aren’t content with what they provide. This means that investing in a UX design creates a win-win scenario: your customers get better experiences and better products, and you get more new and repeat buyers. In the best cases, people will also strongly recommend your brand if you can provide them with a truly unique user experience free of any frustrating elements. They won’t feel the need to buy from your competitors, providing you with a definite edge in your industry.
Does it all sound too good to be true? Not necessarily – but you will have to put in the work. This is where user experience agencies come in.
In order for UX design to meet the needs and expectations of your potential customers you also need what those needs and expectations are. Without proper research, it all just becomes assumptions about what you think people want or don’t want. Always remember: you are not your users. Sometimes even principles that may seem trivial to you can cause confusion or feel unnecessary to people. If you want to make the best out of your investment in improving your user experience, the development and design process needs to be supported by relevant qualitative and/or quantitative data.
Hiring a user experience agency – what you need to assess before the research process can begin
Before hiring a user experience design agency to research your users, it’s also important to set clear business goals ahead. What kind of solution are you aiming to provide your users with? Do you have a true USP (unique selling proposition) that will convince customers to choose you over your competitors? Can you align your brand identity with the kind of product or service you have in mind?
If you can answer questions such as these, it will help you set clear goals before the research process can begin, but also in developing the actual product that will be the fruit of the UX design process.
What kind of research methods does a user experience agency employ?
User experience design agencies employ a variety of research methods to help you gain valuable insight into your users’ needs and expectations. This includes both smaller-scale qualitative methods like user interviews, focus groups, and user testing, and large-scale qualitative methods like online surveys.
Each method has its own advantages – a UX design agency can also help you in deciding which research method would fit your company and industry better. These services can also be used to supplement previous research you have in hand.
Furthermore, one method does not exclude the other. In fact, combining various research methods is one of the easiest ways to get a bigger picture of your potential customers’ wants and needs. User experience agencies may also use the Kano model of customer satisfaction to help you decide which areas you should dedicate your resources to, and which areas you should avoid – either because they are waste of time and money, or because they represent elements your customers don’t want.
You can find out more about the various research methods used by UX agencies (and what kind of output you can expect) by clicking on the link.
What does a user experience agency do with all that research data?
Once the research data has been gathered and analyzed, a user experience agency will use it as the basis for the development process. Among the most notable examples of research data output, user personas and customer journey maps certainly come out on top.
User personas are useful for specifying the needs of different target groups, while customer journey maps are ideal for planning out the complete interaction your users have with your product, and breaking it down into different phases.
This is how a user experience agency uses research data to discover all potential opportunities that can lead to conversion while your potential customers are navigating through your website or app.