UX Research plays an important role when it comes to developing products that are addressing real user needs and matching their expectations. It is important to know when doing research could be most effective and what questions need to be answered at what time during product development.
When is it ideal to conduct UX Research? Quick answer: UX Research can and should be applied whenever possible within the product development process.
In general, UX Research can be inserted at any stage of the product development life cycle. However, the types of research can vary depending on where teams are in the life cycle. As you continue to read through this page, you will learn more about what kinds of research you can do and when it is (or isn't) appropriate.
The British Design Council developed the Double Diamond model, a process model for UX design. It consists of two diamonds representing two distinct phases:
These two phases map to GitLab’s product development flow, specifically the Validation track, where “Phase 1: Design the right thing” equals “Problem Validation” and “Phase 2: Design things right” equals “Solution Validation”.
Usually this phase starts when there is an initial problem statement about users that we aim to solve. For example, we may have heard something in a customer call or have seen customer feedback that shapes these initial problem statements. It’s also common that there is an assumption or hypothesis of what users may be experiencing without them having it shared directly.
Either way, what follows next is a phase of discovery research where we aim to understand users' experiences in depth. This is the time to collect as much data as possible to thoroughly understand nuances and details. It’s about going broad, diverging, and embracing the complexity that comes with it. This phase is referred to as “Discover”.
Once enough data is gathered a phase of convergence begins, the second half of the first diamond. This is when we aggregate learnings and revise the initial problem statement or create one if the discovery research started with an hypothesis or assumption. This phase is referred to as “Define”.
For any problem validation research, we have the same goal: “A thorough understanding of the problem: The team understands the problem, who it affects, when and why, and how solving the problem maps to business needs and product strategy.”
The solution validation phase starts once the problem statement is clearly defined. At the beginning is again a divergent phase where Product Designers explore a lot of different solutions and iterate on them. It’s helpful to conduct solution validation during this time to inform and influence the different design iterations. At the end of the phase, there is one design solution to move forward with for implementation.
The goals of solution validation align with these goals: “High confidence in the proposed solution: Confidence that the jobs to be done outlined within the problem statement can be fulfilled by the proposed solution.”
Once the feature is released to users, it’s important to continue to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback from them in order to continuously improve the experience. This is what the “Improve Phase” of GitLab’s Development workflow, specifically the Build track, encapsulates.
Goals of the Improve Phase:
Insights from the Improve phase may initiate a new round of Problem Validation or Solution Validation.
While research tends to be the most useful towards the beginning of the double diamond, it can be beneficial to conduct research at every stage along the way.
There are two helpful questions to ask yourself to determine where you are in the Double Diamond:
There are many times where research is appropriate, but oftentimes we fail to consider reasons to NOT conduct research: