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Why UX Research Matters

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The purpose of user research

The integral nature of research to UX work is summed up by this quote from the Nielsen Norman Group, one of the world’s leading authorities on user experience:

“UX without research is not really UX. The user must be represented in the design of a product or service otherwise the design represents only one view.”

What research can deliver

Research can deliver insights on key areas, all of which relate to the design of a website:

  • The organization or the business itself
  • The business model, based on which the business generates revenue
  • The competition
  • End users

By the end of this module we’ll have covered each of these in detail.

What needs to be learned

The goals for research can be summarized by asking the following questions:

  • Who are our users? The customers, clients, and people who interact with our business.
  • What are they trying to do or achieve? Why are they using what we provide for them?
  • What problems are we solving for them? Why are they coming to us, specifically? And what are their goals?

We’ll look more closely in a later section at how we can turn these very basic questions into a plan for research activity.

Principles over process

When embarking on research, the shear range of options of techniques available can be overwhelming. We may have a lot of decisions to make about which research methods we use. The important point is to ensure that the research objectives are answered by whatever means are most effective.

One of the fundamental things we need to understand is the difference between qualitative and quantitative research:

  • Qualitative: Studies that are qualitative in nature generate data about behaviors or attitudes based on observing them directly.
  • Quantitative: In quantitative studies, the data about the behavior or attitudes in question are gathered indirectly.
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Rick Monro

Rick Monro is UX Director at Fathom. He has extensive experience in user research, interaction design, user-centered design, and design strategy with private and public sector organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Appraise practices for planning UX research
  • Critically evaluate the roles of innovation and users in User Experience (UX) research
  • Evaluate cognitive biases that can affect research data

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

If you are interested in learning about the principles of UX and the tools or techniques that you can use to develop and refine your user's experience, DMI has produced a short course on the subject for all of our students. You can access this content here:

DMI Short Course: UX Essentials

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


UX Research
Rick Monro
Skills Expert

With the help of Rick Monro, you will develop the knowledge and skills to build highly effective user experiences. You will learn how to think like a user in order to understand their priorities and needs, and you will recognize the role of various research and analytics techniques such as tree-testing, card-sorting, user-testing, user-surveys, Google Analytics and specialized tools such as Click-tale.