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UX Research: Current Trends and the Future

We are glad to see that UX research is becoming a trend itself. The desire to conduct usability testing nowadays is evident. However, in this fast-evolving industry it is hard to keep track of the current trends. To help you, we prepared a summary of current trends and the not so far future of UX research.

There is a perfect quote from Kathryn Davies, head of User Research at Natural Interaction, published by UCD Bristol on Medium:

“You can build an OK product based on good practice, but you can’t build a great product without talking to your users.”

Isn’t it so true? 

Research is the inevitable part of UX as such. It is not only the brand, packaging, or price which influences the customers. The experience of searching or shopping online is one of the crucial aspects of falling in love with a brand. A great product requires an understanding of users’ behavior that can be done only by testing. 

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the most recent UX research trends and try to get a sneak peek at what the future holds for the UX industry.

ux research trends

There are top 3 trends that influenced our work as a team the most:

1. Mixed method research

Many UX researchers have realized that having either just qualitative or just quantitative data is no longer enough. A single questionnaire is not enough. By implementing mixed method research to their studies researchers are able to uncover what happened, why it happened and how to solve it. 

Being able to combine various methods will help to ask the right questions and get real answers. The main role of UX researchers is to apply qualitative and quantitative research in order to understand complex reality. How to do that? 

First, ask the right questions before, after and during the study. Find out what your respondents think about the product, how they felt during the task, what was too complicated and how they wish you could improve it. For that matter, check out our article on  how to ask good usability testing questions.

Simply said, we need both qualitative and quantitative data to uncover deeper insights. 

Quantitative research can give you valuable data but you may miss small opportunities and nuances which can be found by qualitative research. When you are looking for a job as a UX researcher, we now more and more often stumble across positions such as Mixed Method UX researcher. This shows exactly how important it is to adapt to modern realities of user experience. 

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2. Recruitment and building communities

It seems that recruitment of good participants can become a big problem for businesses nowadays. This especially affects new and smaller firms, the ones on a tight budget. 

To overcome this issue, many companies are asking for help directly from users. Building a community that is willing to help and participate in the research that leads to the improvement of the product or service is one of the current UX research trends. 

An easiest way to turn your website visitors into testers is by using UXtweak Recruiting Widget. By applying the widget on the website, your potential respondents will receive a pop-up chat with the message where you can ask them to participate in the study for a small reward. Don’t forget to offer a small reward for the participation. A good incentive (for example a coupon or a gift card) will motivate more people to complete your study.  

Additionally, there are tons of other free recruiting methods that can help you get participants for your study. And if this doesn’t work out, there’s a huge trend on User Panels among modern usability testing tools. 

Platforms like UXtweak understand how hard it can get to gather the right participants for your study. That’s why we provide this budget-friendly solution which allows researchers to recruit targeted testers in just a couple of clicks.

3. Remote unmoderated testing

The global pandemic changed the game for UX research. The possibilities for moderated testing were reduced to a minimum. Remote usability testing has been on the rise for the last couple of years and will continue to grow in the future. 

This type of testing doesn’t require the presence of a researcher which makes it accessible to everyone, everywhere. The only thing you’ll need to perform remote UX research is a good online usability testing tool at hand. 

ux research trends

The advantages of remote unmoderated testing are:

  • budget-friendly
  • less time consuming
  • high-quality data
  • possibility to reach real users

To learn more about the differences between moderated and unmoderated type of study, check out this comparison: Moderated vs. Unmoderated 

Future of UX research: 8 tips for companies 

There are eight tips from our team members about the future of UX research. 

1. Collaboration

The future of UX lies in the information flow between designers, programmers, marketers, researchers, and back. Effective flow of information between all departments is crucial. This doesn’t mean tons and tons of meetings or charts, but rather one to one or team to team cooperation.

The input from all aspects is included in the complex decision-making process. This is especially true in UX. Cooperation and collaboration should include other members of the team, from executives to management. It sounds easier than it is. Building effective pathways for communication takes some time, but you will see when everything clicks together. 

2. Inclusivity

We are happy to see the world evolving as inclusivity already becomes a huge part of the UX design. Creating products with inclusivity in mind allows for a combination of different perspectives and creation of diverse user experiences that apply to everyone.

Discrimination shouldn’t be part of UX. The main goal of inclusive design and research is to incorporate all individuals and to solve issues they have. Therefore, there is no room for discrimination. Inclusive design that reacts to the needs of others is definitely something we’ll see more often in the future. 

3. VR and UX

ux research trends

Virtual Reality is rapidly entering many industries at the moment and UX is one of them. There are many aspects to be taken care of in the world of VR UX design compared to the real world. However, the opportunities this technology could bring are countless. 

UX in VR is a whole different level of immersion and experiencing the product. That’s why designers today are trying a lot of new ideas and implementing things in virtual reality we’ve never even heard of. It’s a whole new world to explore but one thing for sure, VR and VR design will enhance the industry with countless opportunities for growth.

4. Accessibility

Another important aspect of UX that is finally being spoken of. Accessibility is not just a trend, it’s a completely different upgraded approach to designing modern products which allows us to keep in mind all types of users with different kinds of abilities and disabilities. Accessibility closely relates and is a part of inclusive design.

The rise of accessibility awareness says a lot about how we start more and more implementing empathy in design and really focusing on making human-centered products. People with disabilities form one of the largest user groups in the world and ignoring their needs is not acceptable for a modern company.

5. Brain imaging techniques

To understand human emotions properly, in the future research will need more than questionnaires and some tools. EEG or fMRI are already used in the field of neuromarketing. EEG is recording brain waves by using small electrodes that are located in the head of participants. 

When a certain task is given to respondents, the researchers can see the brain activity while conducting the task. By brain activity, we mean emotions or the effort which is needed to do the task. UX designers can rebuild part of the design which is causing frustration or higher mental effort. FMRI is way cooler but even more expensive. Seeing the brain interacting with the task in real-time is an amazing experience.  

Even though those techniques are expensive and time-consuming, their results are phenomenal. Not everybody will be able to have access to such technologies in the near future, but it’s definitely something to look out for. Understanding cognitive processes and the mechanism of emotions can lead to tremendous changes in the UX world. Brain imaging techniques are great tools for understanding human emotions and building empathy in your designs. 

ux research trends

6. Artificial Intelligence

We couldn’t leave you without discussing AI in the field of UX research. Voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or others are changing the way we interact with our devices. AI has significantly influenced the understanding of user’s behavior in the future. It’s making it easier for users to interact with the designs on many levels. AI will play an important role in the future of user experience.

Some may even argue that it can replace UX designers in a couple of years. Well, we can’t predict anything about that but we can for sure say that implementing AI in UX research will make it a lot easier to analyze the huge amounts of usability testing data and detect patterns. The increased speed of research thanks to AI is definitely something we are going to see in the future. 

7. Adapting to the new generation of users

Gen Z has been changing the products and the way we interact with them for a couple of years now. And the companies are starting to adapt to the needs and wants of the new generation. They have different user habits and expectations from modern products and there’ve been a lot of research done in that sphere.

Gen Z expects everything to work as simply as possible and they also get distracted quickly. Which is why a whole different approach is required when designing products for them as a target audience. Not to mention, due to a difference in communication channels and style, the research recruiting process for their demographic is completely opposite to what we, researchers, are used to. 

8. Eye-tracking

Eye Tracking is a usability testing method that reveals users’ focus points and navigational patterns on a given interface. It provides designers with thorough feedback on which interface elements are visible and attention-grabbing. 

Despite the fact that eye-tracking is a time-consuming and expensive process, it is a very helpful technique to gain deep insights. There is still a lot to explore in this area but it has a big potential to significantly improve and streamline user experience research.

Imagine how cool it would be to know exactly what caught users attention first when they opened the website. Or what were they looking at at the moment of confusion. Eye-tracking is the future and we are so excited for this technique to grow in popularity.

What will stay the same in UX research?

We believe that the present and future of UX research are in the hands of the team. It is the quality of the team that matters the most. Are they inspiring, confident, motivated communities? The mindset of researchers and their desire to learn is the key. Support your team members, create effective communication flow, and a creative environment.

By using next-gen UX research tools you can streamline the process of your research even more. Register for your free account at UXtweak and give our tools a try!

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