User Experience Design Must Involve Users Through Design Research

Creating a fantastic user experience not only depends on design elements, but also user perception, user requirements, and overall user expectation. Despite the high degree of user involvement in making a user experience (UX) noteworthy and delightful, many organizations ignore user involvement in the UX designing.

User Experience from User’s Perspective

The first time a user visits a website to browse products or services, whether on their desktop or smartphone, they sense a comfort and usability within seconds of their visit. The very first impression might captivate them. However, it could also overpower and frustrate them. User experience is what defines and establishes the efficacy of a website in terms of its value, ease of use, and level of delight with respect to experience. A great user experience shows a positive response

The manner in which a user behaves on a particular website might not necessarily be similar to how another user behaves. Nevertheless, there are some behavioral commonalities that are generally denoted by their user experience. This suggests that user experience is a factor that is governed by user perception to a significant extent.

The UX professionals are responsible for providing a supreme browsing experience by focusing on specific user needs. The effort should be to create a simple yet eye grabbing design. Good design conventions are still not adopted and implemented widely by organizations as they do not completely understand all facets of supreme user experience.

Collaboration and cohesion between various fields such as the content developers, graphic designers, customer service, and the product and development team ensures all concerned stakeholders are on the same page and share a common understanding. This orchestration makes every team strive to create an effective user experience. (1)

Focus on User Requirements

An important factor that eases the user’s browsing experience is the ability of the design to fulfill their unique needs and task accomplishment. A design might appear great from the designer’s perspective, but might not be usable form the user’s viewpoint. The best designing conventions seek to bridge the gap between designer and user perception. The goal should be to direct towards a pragmatic, business oriented, user centered, and context based approach.

User research is an area that certain organizations might not support, especially in scenarios governed by quick release of the product (agile process). The scrum process does not assign importance to UX designers. Agile teams ignore user research on design and concepts due to lack of time and resources, aversion to work with users, and inability to conduct design research. This leads to development of a product whose true value has not been established from the user’s perspective. (2) The result is poor UX having poor business value generation.

User research can speed up the design process because the data can help refine, polish, and make informed decisions. Tested information can bridge the gap between opposing arguments of designers and other stakeholders over a debated design element. Leaving the responsibility on users to choose a design element is more valuable.

Design Research

The process of adding meaning to the design through evaluation and observation is the core of design research. Implemented through various stages of the design process, design research aims to achieve the best design solution for the most acceptable and superior user experience. User research and user testing are two branches of design research. User research is conducted before and during the design stage. User testing is employed after the design completion.

Who will use the design and what is the context of use in terms of task accomplishment?

Answering these questions lead to design effectiveness because they take user perspective and behavior into consideration. Design research can either be qualitative or quantitative. The basic focus is context of research and applicability of the technique for the particular design. (3)

The design team analyzes the research data and comes out with action oriented results through storyboards, mental models, etc. It helps to understand user information, skill level, motivation, and the belief systems of users. The techniques employed could be interviewing, contextual inquiry, a questionnaire, card sorting, and task analysis. Usability testing unveils the actual interaction of users with the system because what users might feel sometimes differs from what they actually do. (4)

A prototype can be employed for usability/user testing through various research techniques. Guerrilla research is done on the spot with users or through remote research where users are involved through online interaction. The convenience factor is higher in remote research. (5)


Involving users in the design process requires recruiting the correct audience, making the participants sign non-disclosure agreements, and receiving approval from the top management for involving external source. Design research through user research and usability testing helps UX practitioners in making informed decisions and overcoming fear of design failure to a significant extent.


(4) Karr, Ashley. “User Expereince Without The User Is Not User Expereince.” 24 November 2014. Interaction Wesite. 11 March 2015

(1,2) Loranger, Hoa. “UX Without User Research Is Not UX.” 10 August 2014. Neilsen Norman Group Website. 15 March 2015

(3, 5) Maier, Andrew. “Complete Beginner’s Guide to Design Research.” 01 June 2010. UX Booth Website. 11 March 2015