UX research is the systematic study of users and their requirements in order to add insights into the process of designing the user experience. UX research is used to reach conclusions, determine facts and discover problems. I want to bring focus on discovering problems and solving them. We call a solution good when it is elegant, efficient, usable, and so on. I think it’s fair to say that very little attention is paid to which problems need solving and which questions need answering. At Ethnity, we offer a wide range of methods for solving UX problems. However, the most valuable part of our work is to take a step back and think about how to find the right problem in the first place.
It is natural to be over-focusing on the designing solutions. Solving problems is the fun part of the work, after all. Smart workflows, appealing aesthetics and technical brilliance are the exciting outcomes of design thinking. Intuition often substitutes user research. But, as Ethnity emphasises, successful user-centred design needs to be more meaningful than relying on imaginary assumptions about the people for whom our solution ultimately matter.
A lot of problem-solving begins with someone asking “What do users want?” Then, it is tempting to ask a few users what they want. This query frequently leads in the wrong direction; often, people don’t know how to articulate what they actually want.
“What do users want?”
Better questions to ask the users are: “What do users do and what do they feel?” This is where user research helps. Users have their mental models, habits, rituals and preferences. Finding the patterns is the key to finding the right problems to solve.
At Ethnity, we observe, describe, interview and categorise users. It requires planning, persistence, and the right method. However, the value it brings in designing solutions is enormous.
In the past, we’ve done user research on several projects. We work on finding out what users want, crystalise these patterns and characteristics into personas. We work on asking the right questions, then solving the right problems.
The next step
Stop designing before asking the right questions. Design solutions that users want. For any assistance with user research, write to us. We help companies understand their users and provide clear, actionable recommendations that deliver business results.