Continuous research is a study carried out on regular basis at specific intervals and always following the same research methodology. Read our article and learn how to improve a product after it has already been launched. We will talk about the use of product analysis, quantitative surveys, the use of sales, support or customer service data and in-depth interviews in continuous research in UX.
Continuous research in UX – table of contents:
- What is continuous research in UX?
- User analytics
- Customer opinion surveys
- Use of data already in the organization
- Continuous qualitative interviews with users
What is continuous research in UX?
The need to respond to user requirements, preferences as well as problems doesn’t vanish after a product launch. It means that UX research has to follow and stay put. As customers’ requirements change over time, some things have to get fixed, updated, or improved – all of which require research.
Continuous research (also known as ongoing research) is a particularly crucial element in keeping customer service high and ensuring that users have a positive experience when interacting with a product. They help maintain the product’s value and relevance to users.
User analytics provides insight into product performance in its environment. Many people are unaware of how much data they already have – user and site behavior data collected by product teams can be harnessed to analyze users in continuous UX studies.
User analytics (also called user behavior analytics) is a form of continuous, quantitative data tracking and evaluation that takes place after a product is released. Teams use analytics tools to passively collect data about users’ interactions with a product, app or website. This data is then examined to better understand their engagement and sentiment.
User analytics can apply not only to UX researchers but also to outsiders teams (such as marketing staff, UX designers, UI designers, product managers, engineers or developers). It can feature, for example, to identify problems with a product, investigate hypotheses about a design or technical issue, monitor the user path, evaluate the user experience, target appropriately tailored marketing messages, present data to stakeholders and convince them of the validity of certain decisions.
So how does user analytics differ from UX research in the traditional meaning? Firstly, user analytics provides quantitative data by answering “how many” questions. The UX research answering “how” and “why” questions provides qualitative data. With analytics, researchers work on large datasets, while they take on smaller ones during UX research. They also differ in the method of data collection – in the case of UX research, the data is collected on an ongoing basis, through direct observation. In user analytics, on the other hand, data is collected passively and continuously.
User analytics allows you to adjust goals and metrics across the organization, better understand actual user behavior toward the product, improve product design and development, identify and forecast trends and, as a result, retain current customers and attract new ones – which will translate into the company’s bottom line and market position.
The process of conducting user analysis is as follows:
- Knowing the users’ goals.
- Defining the analytics metrics to track.
- Configuring the system for measurement analytics.
- Setting up a rhythm for viewing analytics.
- Identifying trends, user segments and other patterns in the data.
- Conduct formalized UX studies to explore trends, questions and opportunities.
By analyzing quantitative user analytics data – and combining it with qualitative data from UX research – you can identify areas for improvement, create exceptional user experiences, and ultimately increase company revenue.
Customer opinion surveys in continuous research
Continuous customer feedback surveys can help a company stay abreast of user sentiment and opinions on a product. The feedback can also support future UX research, product refinement and speed up the cycles of subsequent iterations. One of the best ways to gather feedback is through surveys. Below are some of the most popular solutions.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction Score
- Customer Effort Assessment
- Site capture surveys
- Email surveys
Net Promoter Score segments participants based on the likelihood that they will recommend a product to a friend. It’s a simple way to assess whether an experience is likely to spread through word-of-mouth, which can make a big difference. Often users are also allowed to provide reasons why they chose a particular answer.
If respondents rated the interaction high on the scale, it’s worth asking what they particularly appreciate the company for and what inspired their confidence to recommend the brand to family or friends. On the other hand, when they rate NPS low, you can inquire about the reason and expectations (what is worth changing). So this is a method to get not only quantitative data but also valuable qualitative information.
The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), as the name suggests – measures customer satisfaction with a product or service. It involves asking users to rate their experience based on a predetermined scale. The CSAT is relatively simple and easy to use, but because the question is so broad, the reason for the answer can be difficult to decipher. Still, in some ways, it is a more straightforward question than the NPS and can help measure overall user satisfaction more simply.
The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort it takes respondents to perform certain tasks, such as contacting technical support to resolve a problem.
Site capture surveys are mostly pop-ups that appear at key points in a user’s journey through the site to gauge their mood and feelings. This may seem like an annoying addition to the site, but if planned and implemented correctly, it can be relatively seamless for the participants and provide key feedback for researchers.
Email surveys involve questionnaires sent to users via email. With them, you can send customers the NPS, CSAT or CES surveys discussed above, but also provide them with more detailed qualitative surveys.
Continuous feedback surveys are a great way to monitor user sentiment at each stage of contact with a product. When choosing the right type of feedback survey, be sure to implement it carefully and according to your stated goals. Continuous surveys will provide an in-depth understanding of users, and when done correctly, help accelerate subsequent product iteration cycles, leading to better, more competitive products and loyal customers.
Data management within the organization
The use of sales, support, customer service and product data in user analysis is based on information from support tickets, error reports or consumer quotes. Knowledge about customers held by employees from other departments in the company is an immense source of valuable quantitative and qualitative data to acknowledge and handle wisely.
Sales, support, product or marketing teams, as well as UX researchers themselves, among others, may have useful data. It’s worth sharing the information gained, because the more different departments work together, the more the overall knowledge of users increases, resulting in the creation of an increasingly better product, consistent communication and improved user experience. To acquire such data, the researcher must cultivate good relationships with other employees and know who has the information and how they collect it.
Continuous qualitative interviews with users
Continuous qualitative user interviews are frequent one-on-one meetings with customers designed to enrich one-time surveys with fresh insights and prioritize the product development plan. Unlike user interviews conducted as part of a dedicated study, continuous user interviews are faster, iterative and open-ended. They are an essential part of continuous research in UX. They can take various forms:
- Broad interviews, gathering customer feedback, conducted weekly and focusing on general aspects of the product.
- Team-based customer interviews, conducted weekly by individual teams, focusing on topics specific to that team.
- Structured user interviews are held at specific stages of the design and product development process, focusing on answering more specific, precise questions.
- Repeated interviews with the advisory board, held regularly, to build long-term relationships with customers and improve future work on the product.
When deciding what continuous interviews should look like, keep the main focus on the objectives: What does the company want to achieve? What are the interviews supposed to help with? What questions does the company want answers to? etc.? Each organization is unique in terms of how the team is structured and what it plans to achieve through continuous research. You may choose to implement a combination of different types of interviews to encourage a variety of recurring customer conversations across the organization.
It is worth noting that continuous user interviews should never replace one-time surveys or other types of research. In addition to cyclical (weekly, monthly or quarterly) user interviews, you should exploit a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches to maximize audience insights and extract as much valuable data as possible.
The continuous research discussed still does not receive enough attention from many organizations. Even though you have flawlessly executed the UX research process, designed a product that perfectly matches the users’ requirements and released it successfully, you should not stop researching because there will always be something to improve!
In an era of ever-changing trends, new technologies, ever-increasing user demands as well as ever-increasing competition in the market, it is necessary to constantly work on improving and developing the product, especially after it is released into the hands of users.
Continuous research will help obtain feedback from users and learn about their processes and feelings about the product. A good solution is to combine different research methods at the same time – to acquire quantitative and qualitative data at the same time, data from different users related to different situations.
This approach to continuous, repeated and cyclic testing will deliver the most comprehensive, yet optimal data set for planning effective product development.
- What is UX research?
- Types of UX research
- What are research questions and how to write them?
- Requirements gathering process for UI/UX projects
- Why are stakeholder interviews crucial for the design process?
- How to leverage our gathered customer data?
- How to create a good UX research plan?
- How to choose a research method?
- How can pilot testing improve UX research?
- UX study participant recruitment
- Channels and tools for finding UX research participants
- Screener survey for UX Research
- UX Research Incentives
- UX research with children
- Discovery research methods
- What is desk research?
- How to conduct user interviews?
- How to conduct a diary studies?
- What are focus groups in research?
- What is ethnographic research?
- Survey research
- What is card sorting in UX?
- What is evaluative research?
- How to conduct usability testing?
- When and how to run preference testing?
- What is A/B testing in UX?
- Eyetracking in UX testing
- What is tree testing?
- First click testing
- What is task analysis in UX research?
- Evaluation of emotions in UX
- Continuous Research in UX
- Data analysis in UX research
- How to prepare a UX study report?
- Customer Journey Map – what is it and how to create it?