Research & testing

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

Card sorting

Group cards to guide information architecture design.

Cognitive maps

Visual representations of users' mental models.

Concept testing or validation

Test out your concept early within your design process.

Contextual inquiry

Observe and interview users in their context.

Diary studies

Document user journeys over time.

Empathy maps

Visualize what users say, do, think, and feel.

Field studies

Observe people in their natural environment.

First click testing

Find out where people click first to accomplish a task.

Journey maps

Visualize the process a user goes through on their journey to complete a goal.


Create fictional characters to reflect your audience.


Uncover attitudes, opinions, and self-reported behaviors.

Talk-back boards

Capture free-form user voices on a board.

Tree testing

Evaluate menu labels and structure to improve navigation.

Usability testing

Observe user interactions to evaluate a product's usability.

User interviews

Speak with users to understand their thoughts.

Web analytics

Understand user behaviors with data.