Is overlooking UX research a wise decision? Could it be leading to user frustration, company closures, and failed products?

UX research often intimidates organizations, mainly due to concerns about costs and time constraints. However, we must remember that:

We are not designing products for us. The products we design are for our users.

So, fixating on business objectives can lead to design pitfalls, ultimately causing products to fade into obscurity.

As Dana Chisnell, American Public Interest Technologist, and Civic Designer, aptly put it, 

“ Want your users to fall in love with your designs? Fall in love with your users.” 

How do you ensure your product resonates with your users? By creating design solutions that directly address their pain points or how the users react to a pain point. This requires closely observing how users interact with a product in their natural settings, dispelling the misconception that UX research is solely about creating what users want or dictate how a product should be! 

This article aims to closely scrutinize the reasons or excuses projected by companies for skipping UX research. There are multiple layers and dimensions to these reasons, and we will explore them in-depth. Further,we will discuss how to overcome the prejudiced assumptions about UX research.

Read along and make the most out of it

  1. Understanding UX Research 
  2. Google’s Journey with UX Research 
  3. Top 5 Inhibitions Preventing Companies from Adopting  UX Research 

What is UX Research?

According to the Interaction Design Foundation, 'UX (user experience) research is the systematic study of target users and their requirements, aimed at providing realistic contexts and insights to design processes. UX researchers employ various methods to uncover problems and design opportunities, thereby revealing valuable information to inform the design process.

These methods include conducting stakeholder interviews, user interviews, and focused surveys. However, merely adhering to the textbook definition of UX research may limit our perspective to the notion that "ultimately, the very essence of business objectives is creating a product for the user." But it's more profound than that—it involves taking an empathetic approach to users and cultivating better relationships.

Lo Wheelwright, Senior User Experience Designer at Amazon, takes this concept of relationship-building to heart. She emphasizes, 

“Those little moments, when participants express a sense of relief, joy and even excitement. There is nothing more rewarding in our field than seeing work improve the lives of others.”

Now, we can observe how even companies like Google, often categorized as "too big to fail," have closely listened to and understood the pain points of their users.

Google’s Impressive Initiative to Champion Education for All Through UX Research

Google's core design philosophy revolves around listening to user feedback while building its products. Google for Education has a proven track record of actively engaging schools and teachers in user research studies to grasp their genuine needs. They credit this “close connection” to their ability to readily adapt their products to meet the unique requirements of schools over time.

Two instances stand out where Google successfully addressed the pain point of accessing education.

  1. Google Meet Expanding Its Horizons to Enrich Virtual Learning Interactions

In the pre-COVID era, terms like remote learning and virtual classrooms were unfamiliar. . However, the pandemic literally sabotaged the conventional instructional methods, giving rise to a new era of educational demands. Teachers turned to Google Meet as a lifeline for hosting virtual classrooms. But the original design of Google Meet was intended for business conferences. It soon became evident that Google Meet fell short of meeting the unique needs of educators, students, and their parents or guardians.

Google identified key pain points:

  • Teachers lacked the ability to mute students.
  • Students couldn't be grouped for activities.
  • Teachers couldn't directly engage with students through questions.
  • Students accessed video sessions without supervision.

Responding swiftly, Google investigated what teachers really needed from the product. The Google for Education team dedicated hours to engaging directly with teachers, recognizing the primary need for more control over hosting sessions via Google Meet.

They introduced new functionalities such as :

  • Attendance tracking
  • Hand-raising
  • Waiting rooms
  • Polls

The upgraded version improved the overall experience of both the students and the teachers. 

Google Meet exemplified an accessible virtual classroom, facilitating better connections between teachers and students while alleviating the challenges of managing the remote environment. These changes ultimately benefited all users of Google Meet, including businesses and individuals utilizing it for personal use. 

  1. Google Classroom Bridged Access Gaps

This is also an outcome of UX research that improved students' access to Google Classroom, even for those without computer or tablet access. Educators noted that these students completed homework by hand and submitted it using a mobile device.

However, Google Classroom lacked the ability to grade photos. This feedback was taken into consideration, and a new feature was added to allow interaction with students' submitted photos.

Another access pain point was the lack of Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. To address this, some features of Google Classroom were made available offline for Android devices. These included reviewing class announcements and assignments, editing downloaded assignment attachments, and managing offline files. The team swiftly prioritized building these features to alleviate this issue, saving teachers valuable time and energy.

Google's website remains open to receiving user feedback, highlighting its commitment to integrating UX research into its product’s journey. Ultimately, change is the only constant when it comes to meeting user needs.

Despite notable examples like Google, many companies remain hesitant to fully integrate UX research. Let's explore the reasons behind this reluctance and discuss strategies to overcome these barriers.

Top 5 Inhibitions Preventing Companies From Adopting  UX Research

As a leading UI UX design agency in India, we consider reluctance to UX research as a significant pain point and wish to address it in detail and convey its criticality in sustaining the relevance and long-term success of a product. 

#1 Inhibition: Lack of Awareness of UX Research

In my experience, many UX professionals and even companies that develop apps, websites, and digital products may not fully understand what user research entails. With the rising popularity of the term 'UX Design,' there's a tendency to equate UX research with designing based on “ knowing” the user alone, overlooking the depth of research involved. Addressing this lack of knowledge is the first step.

How can we overcome this? 

  • Conduct workshops to educate and make people redeem themselves through user research.
  • Exhibit case studies of successful companies that are thriving with air-tight UX Research 
  • Identify specific pain points faced by users and conduct in-depth studies by directly engaging with them to extract valuable insights.

This approach helps bridge the gap between perception and reality. 

#2 Inhibition: Presuming They Already Know Their Users Well

One common argument made by companies is that the product idea originated from user insights. They believe they have conducted thorough market research, established user clusters, and engaged with users through panels or focus groups. Additionally, they rely on feedback from sales and support teams who directly interact with users.

While these sources of information are valuable, they only scratch the surface of understanding user interactions. Direct observation of user-product interactions is crucial for making informed design decisions. And the user insights you already have alone may not suffice. 

How to overcome this? 

  • Respect stakeholders' existing knowledge about users. Inspect them closely and encourage them to be proactive in the interviews.
  • Emphasize the need for firsthand observation to deepen understanding. 
  • Encourage stakeholders to share unanswered questions about users.
  • Highlight how user research can answer specific business questions.

# 3 Inhibition: Basing Usability Testing as a Means to Understand Users

Usability testing is undoubtedly a crucial step in the UI/UX design process, serving as a key strategy to identify and evaluate problems in the design solution. However, addressing these issues can often feel like an afterthought. Until then, the design remains a product of assumptions and predictions, leading to excursions through multiple iterations that consume significant time and effort. Conducting UX research at the onset of the design process can help avoid these pitfalls, providing solid information to base the design on from the start.

How to overcome this?

  • Educate your team about the value of user research to save time and rework.
  • Allocate time for user research, not just usability testing.
  • Conduct user research between projects if there's no time at the beginning.

#4 Inhibition: Development Phase Bottleneck to Implement UX Research

Here, companies do value UX Research, but what they struggle at is arriving at a consenus to implement UX research in the development of the product. They might not even have UX researchers on their team and might rope in UX designers to do the research. If they are tightly tied, they discard user research and proceed with designing. 

How to overcome this? 

  • Start small by incorporating user research into projects whenever possible to demonstrate its value.
  • Conduct user research between projects if they can't fit into the project schedule, gathering information that can benefit multiple projects.
  • Integrate user research into existing roles and provide support for those taking on research responsibilities, such as UX designers eager to contribute in this area.

#5 Inhibition:  Budget and Time Constraints

Such a reluctance arises because companies perceive user research as an extra step in UX design, often underestimating its value. Viewing it as an added expense can lead to accumulating design debt over the product's journey. However, investing in UX research is not a time-consuming burden. It's an investment with significant rewards, particularly when a substantial number of users adopt your product. Forrester Research shows that every dollar invested in UX brings 100 in return. 

How to overcome this? 

  • Start with a small, informal study to demonstrate the value of user research.
  • Focus on the primary user group to address most needs, rather than spreading efforts across multiple groups.
  • Narrow the research scope to achieve greater depth in less time.
  • Shorten the analysis period and produce high-level deliverables.

User Stories Make the Real Difference

Defining your users is the initial step in user research. Then, listen to their stories and closely observe their reactions, including their facial expressions—are they grinning, smiling, staying calm, or appearing agitated? These authentic characters should breathe life into the product.

The UX Research services at Aufait UX ensure an authentic understanding of your users, guiding the design with confidence. We're not just designing a product, we're telling a user story that guarantees success.

Connect with us to assess and analyze the nuanced layers of user behavior. 

Aparna K S

Aparna is a content creator who is passionate about UX design. Her works are informed by her deep knowledge and understanding of the field. She blends creativity and her unique perspective of the field to create engaging and informative articles. Aparna seeks to inspire and educate readers by providing valuable insights into the world of UX design. Connect with Aparna via

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