Types of research
You'll use different types of research throughout the product development lifecycle. As you're deciding on a research method, keep in mind:
- Exploratory or generative research helps you identify opportunities, define problems, and better understand user needs and expectations.
- Evaluative research helps you assess the effectiveness of a product, service, space, or website.
Different methods will also provide you with different types of user data:
- Behavioral data tells you what people do.
- Attitudinal data tells you how people think.
See our research planning recipe in The UX Cookbook to get started.
Research methods A-Z
Group cards to guide information architecture design.
- Card Sorting: A Definitive Guide from Boxes and Arrows
- Card sorting recipe from The UX Cookbook
- Optimal Sort: Online Card Sorting Tool
Visual representations of users' mental models.
- Cognitive Mapping in User Research from Nielsen Norman Group
Concept testing or validation
Test out your concept early within your design process.
- Testing Your Design Concepts Ethically by IDEO
- Impression testing recipe from The UX Cookbook
Observe and interview users in their context.
- Contextual Inquiry by Nielsen Norman Group
Document user journeys over time.
- Diary studies recipe from The UX Cookbook
Visualize what users say, do, think, and feel.
- Empathy maps recipe from The UX Cookbook
Observe people in their natural environment.
- Field Studies from Nielsen Norman Group
First click testing
Find out where people click first to accomplish a task.
- First Click Testing from usability.gov
Visualize the process a user goes through on their journey to complete a goal.
- Journey Mapping 101 from Nielsen Norman Group
Create fictional characters to reflect your audience.
- Personas recipe from The UX Cookbook
Visualize organizational processes to optimize delivery of the user experience.
- Service Blueprints: Definition from Nielsen Norman Group
Uncover attitudes, opinions, and self-reported behaviors.
- Surveys recipe from The UX Cookbook
Capture free-form user voices on a board.
- Talk-back boards recipe from The UX Cookbook
Evaluate menu labels and structure to improve navigation.
- Tree testing recipe from The UX Cookbook
- Tree Testing from Nielsen Norman Group
Observe user interactions to evaluate a product's usability.
- Usability testing recipe from The UX Cookbook
- Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug
Speak with users to understand their thoughts.
- User interviews recipe from The UX Cookbook
Understand user behaviors with data.
- 3 Uses for Analytics in User Experience Practice from Nielsen Norman Group
- Web analytics recipe from The UX Cookbook.