User Research, the crystal ball for a successful user experience

User Research, the crystal ball for a successful user experience

Posted on April 25, 2014 0 Comments

While design creativity is one of the obvious and well-known essentials for a great user experience, the hidden and most often ignored secret sauce to ensuring a successful and useful experience is User Experience Research aka User Research.

User research focuses on understanding user expectations, behaviors, needs, and motivations through methodical, investigative approaches. It helps us identify and fill in the gaps in our knowledge around the users, context of use, challenges and opportunities. It also helps align product and business strategy with the core needs and goals of our users.

User research helps us to understand how people go about performing tasks and achieving goals that are important to them. It gives us context and perspective and puts us in a position to respond with useful, simplified and productive design solutions. It also helps us to circumvent our own biases and misconceptions that could be detrimental to the success of the product, in terms of user adoption.

While user research can provide critical information around a lot of fundamental questions that can inform the user experience and product designs, it is also a beneficial tool for learning the following:

Core Sphere of Influence of User Research

The field of user research has a diverse set of methodologies, tools and established protocols to gather information associated with each of the research topics above and many more. The common thread between all research methods is spending time with users. However, it is critical to plan a user research study that matches the research questions, so the right kind of data (qualitative or quantitative) is collected using the correct research method at the right time. User researchers’ expertise lies in ensuring that studies contain targeted user profiles, good experimental design and effective data analysis.

Guess what happens when we don’t do user research or don’t do it right? The chances of product failure go up a few notches, because in all likelihood the user experience may not be optimized for the target end users.


At Progress, we have a growing user research program in place and all members of the Progress User Experience organization practice what they preach. We take every opportunity to conduct design and research activities in the brainstorm lab, as well as structured usability studies in the state of the art usability lab at our Redwood Shores location.


A usability test session in the Progress Usability Labs


A group card sort/affinity diagramming session in the Progress Brainstorming Lab

Key Takeaways

  • User Research is as important as design. It provides the foundation for design and validates design direction.
  • Usability and User Experience is measurable through qualitative and quantitative research methods.

We invite you to be a part of our user research activities to help influence the next generation of experiences!

Participate by clicking the image below:

Arin Bhowmick

Vice President, User Experience and Product Design at Progress


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