Defining User Experience Research and how Daxue Consulting performs it in China
User Experience (UX) Research encompasses many investigative methods used to gain insight into the design process and consumer’s interaction with it. User experience is all about the design of a product or service to fit the needs of the users. “Knowing the end-users’ opinion in your industry is crucial today because finally, this is the key success into the market,” says Hu Yuwan, project manager at Daxue Consulting. UX research, sometimes also called design research, helps to understand and uncover the actual needs of users, to identify their problems, as well as contributes to recognizing mental models. By having such a comprehensive knowledge about your end-user, you will experience faster decision making, and through improved user-centered design and processes, more customers will have a better user experience, which in turn increases customer loyalty.
Daxue’s team utilizes a variety of UX research methods
Every UX project is different and unique, and the tasks that one researcher takes on will differ from those better suited in another setting. The research team at Daxue Consulting executes a range of methods, in any combination possible, comprised of observation, understanding, and analysis:
- Usability testing is the most common methodology used and may be conducted with live products but also with prototypes. It involves asking potential or current users of a product or service to complete a set of tasks. While doing so, our Daxue research team will observe the behavior of the participants, where they have troubles, and which questions they ask. Additionally, our team provides specialized equipment (such as recording and tracking equipment) which delivers additional data to be analyzed afterward. Usability testing can help you, for instance, to choose between different designs.
- Eye tracking: the Tobii system is the most well-known equipment to analyze where a person is looking.
- Click or scroll testing is the most useful for live sites and software, as it serves as a real test of what is happening. However, Daxue Consulting recommends combining this type of method with another, as it provides no context as to why actions are taken or not taken.
- Card sorts / Process sorting is a quantitative method for the categorization and establishment of a hierarchy of your system and processes. Daxue Consulting observes the participants while they put the cards in the order they expect things to happen. Our research team registers challenge the candidates might have with terminology and recognizes if the user is missing a card for his needs. Finally, the research ends up with the processes of each participant, and our team can then uncover certain patterns by analyzing the data.
- Participatory Design Workshops put the focus on creating solutions for a predefined problem. Our Daxue team organizes collaboration sessions between users, designers, developers and other business decision makers to identify the needs, as well as the limitations.
- In-depth interviews: Daxue Consulting frequently uses interviews to gain additional qualitative data.
- Multivariate testing: Our research team utilizes multivariate testing to identify which version performs best. Live sites and products are the primary fields where Daxue applies this method of comparison.
- A/B testing is used to compare two competing elements, items, apps, processes, or products. According to our research team, it is particularly useful when comparing an older version with a revised one, or with the collection of data to prove an assumption.
- Desirability studies ensure that your visuals match your brand goals and the desired emotional response. Daxue Consulting facilitates this method by showing the participants variations of visual designs and asks them to select words which best describe each one based on brand goals and opposites. The research team usually also proceeds with follow-up questions before analyzing which design has the most positive association.
- Heuristic analysis: it’s a fast way to employ the industry’s best practices. It is often referred to as an ‘expert review’ because it requires several well-trained UX professionals in current user experience practices. They compare your practices to the best practices in the industry and then make recommendations according to those criteria.
- Benchmark testing might uncover which key information needs to be present. Our research team tests a particular system, product or service of our client against those of its competition
- Ethnographic research involve Daxue talking to people and also observing them while they try to achieve their goals in their natural environment (e.g. an in-depth interview in their home)
- Diary Studies can be used for understanding the context of how something is being used in real life but also for observing how behavior changes over time. Daxue Consulting performs the diary studies by asking participants to record their behavior on a given topic at specific points over time. Another way to conduct this study is to provide the same set of tasks or questions to answer at regular times (also called Structured Diary Study).
- Focus groups
Daxue Consulting has successfully completed various projects in China
Daxue Consulting uses UX Research in China as part of its projects, mainly for those related to the digital industry. Design research is an essential method to work with, especially in sectors such as gaming, apps, IoT (“Internet of things”), e-commerce, and media, but also in every other business field which include services and products. David Matthieu, president and founder of Daxue Consulting, says: “Imagine UX for instance, in the gaming sector in China, you want the people to keep playing.” UX research plays a significant role in discovering the actual needs of your consumers and allowing you to adopt your product or service towards them. User experience is a growing trend in China, where successful mobile applications such as Didi Chuxing, use gamification to bring a degree of social currency and entertainment in the daily life of Chinese consumers, as explained by Labbrand Shanghai. Our experienced team at Daxue Consulting, for instance, worked for that reason for Allianz, one of the world’s largest financial services groups, to test a new smartphone application. Moreover, Daxue Consulting recently carried out a project for a client who aimed to enter the Chinese market with a new service within the digital field. The customer’s goal was to develop the most appropriate design for their service and to get insight into the perspective of their potential end users, as well as the consumer’s interaction with all aspects of it.
How Daxue’s research team manages every step of UX research in China
The research Daxue performs has two major parts: gathering data and synthesizing that data to improve usability. At the start of each project, Daxue Consulting puts the focus on learning about requirements, needs, and goals. Step by step, this focus shifts to usability and attitudes.
First of all, our research team needs to understand in which product development lifecycle you are. Daxue considers three stages which are necessary to distinguish:
- Strategize: During this stage, the priority is set to uncover needs and goals of potential users towards something new, for instance, new software. Areas for improvement and the validation of your ideas play a significant role in decision making. Daxue Consulting therefore mainly executes qualitative attitudinal or behavioral methods such as interviews or usability tests.
- Design & Development: At this stage, the client is usually at the crossroads of continuing further or not going on any longer with a product or service. For this situation, our research team typically applies behavioral research methods such as card sorts, usability tests, as well as desirability studies.
- Evaluate: The focus here stays on trends and uncovering opportunities for already developed products or services. During this stage, Daxue’s research team usually undertakes quantitative behavioral techniques like A/B testing.
Secondly, after determining the product lifecycle stage, Daxue Consulting will decide, based on the client, which of the method(s) best to apply. Choosing the right methodology is one of the most important choices the research team has to make – combinations of the above-mentioned methods are also possible – based on the organizational environment and the product stage.
Moreover, the research team will create proto-personas, especially for clients who aren’t very familiar with their potential customers. This is a model which shows what a user needs and expects to achieve his goal. Solid research about behavior and attitudes of real people is the base of a good persona. Daxue applies this tool to be able to recruit suitable test participants. Personas also help to make design decisions, which in the digital area, the research team classifies as:
- Cognitive: helps users with their visual perception (deciding, learning, remembering)
- Physical: helps them perform a physical action (clicking, touching, moving)
- Sensory: helps users’ senses (seeing, hearing, feeling), such as a sufficiently sized label font
- Functional: helps users accomplish work, for instance, the internal system ability
After ensuring the right number and appropriate representative participants, according to the established key attributes, the research team starts off with careful and proper preparation including the installment of the equipment. Before the actual execution of the UX Research in China, which utilizes the methods listed above, Daxue Consulting performs a pilot run.
At last, the research team can then process the gathered data, which means Daxue organizes and cross-analyzes the data, and then identifies trends, opportunities, and challenges. The team maps these to get an insight of priorities, as well as prioritizes the primary goals of the research, such as maximizing user experience or recognizing the necessary and unnecessary features.
Daxue Consulting combines UX Research in China with comprehensive market research
The market research team at Daxue Consulting also incorporates Desk Research at the beginning of each project to understand the current situation of the general market. In many UX projects, culture differences may be particularly relevant based on differences in, for instance, the adoption of technology, generational differences, or in how people use and think about technologies. The market research team at Daxue Consulting takes all these factors into consideration. Moreover, Daxue includes trends and future market development in their final recommendations and uses benchmark testing to uncover key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, so as to advise clients what to adopt and what to avoid.
This powerful combination of user-centered design through UX research in China linked with comprehensive market research, expertly applied by Daxue Consulting, leads to the maximization of the user experience while discovering the full range of opportunities, challenges, and trends on the market.
To know more about our UX research in China, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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