Whether it's a new website, an app or something else, knowing beforehand what the intended users need and expect will produce a better outcome. The insight that comes from audience research can inform structure, design, user experience and content to provide users an experience that truly satisfies.
We adopt user research techniques as a central part of our services, with a variety of different methods we can choose from according to the desired outcomes and your needs.
Our digital expert, Cath says
The research process allows us to validate findings from quantitative data analysis, understand user needs and prevent personal assumptions and opinions from taking centre stage during decision making.Cath Foster, User Research Director
Methods of understanding the user
To better understand how to meet their needs, it's vital that you fully understand your users. We use the following tactics to gain this knowledge.
A technique used to improve understanding of the customer and build empathy with them, by gaining first-hand insight from different perspectives. Dogfooding is where we become the customer by using the product or service and bluecoating is where we become or shadow employees who regularly deal with customers.
Speaking directly to people relevant to your business, whether existing customers or matching an audience profile, helps to challenge or validate ideas and assumptions. We ask about their needs and experiences to see if these correspond to the views of stakeholders and often uncover valuable new findings at the same time.
A moderated discussion of a 'group' of users (normally 5-10). Although they are more widely used as a market research tool, they can be useful for gaining a better understanding of user needs as well as their opinions on a product or service.
User surveys run on your website can provide a good way of getting a large amount of feedback in a short amount of time. Tools like Hotjar and Usabilla can be used to obtain feedback from users while they interact with a website or app.
How to choose the right user research method
Deciding on the most suitable method depends on your objectives, the questions you are trying to answer and where you are in the discovery or design process.
This useful guide will help you map your user research goals and questions to the right methods.
Getting the business viewpoint
As a first step, we work with project stakeholders to set the vision and a framework to work within. This includes defining and prioritising target audiences, and understanding how these relate to business objectives and project goals. We also gather information that will help us to get the best results throughout the research process.
Switching from a business-centric mindset to audience-first through empathy mapping, we capture what is already known about users, their needs and the things that affect them.
The best insights about your users may be locked away among customer support teams. If they know and speak to your customers, we want to listen to them.
Quantitative data provides the trends and large-scale patterns that explains the 'what'. This complements the qualitative research that follows and unlocks the 'why'.
Read our guide about choosing the right user testing method
Watching users undertake tasks allows businesses to find out where their audiences may be experiencing confusion and any difficulties they are having. Findings from user testing give clear direction for design changes or A/B tests.
Optimising information architecture
The information architecture (IA) of a website identifies and defines how content is organised, structured and named. It provides the foundations on which everything else is built and is critical to a successful experience. After all, if your users can't find what they need quickly and intuitively, no amount of creative design will paper over the cracks.
An interactive workshop that helps design and evaluate the information architecture of a website. Individual participants or small groups organise topics into categories and label them.
Used to evaluate a website's current navigation or a proposed solution reached during the card sorting workshop. Participants are set the task of finding information, allowing us to identify the different ways people interact with the IA.
How audience research helps
Most challenges in digital can be more effectively met by considering the perspective of your users and audiences.
Discovering how people react to small, seemingly insignificant, elements of their experience can reveal major barriers to conversion that would otherwise be overlooked. The insight our research delivers can power a testing programme that delivers significant commercial gains.
Engaging with your audiences away from your website will be more effective if you know what resonates with them and where they can be reached. This can help inform social media strategy, off-site content marketing and show how to connect the online and offline worlds.
Understanding in detail how your audiences use search engines, what they search for and what they consider a satisfying answer to their query is a major component of an effective content strategy. SEO is far more than keywords and links - sustainable performance comes through attention to detail in both content and user experience.
Audience related client storiesView All Work
We generated valuable insights from audience research which helped the insurance provider deepen the engagement of its members.
Our critical user research for the UK charity saved time and money on the scoping of a new website.
Our pivotal user testing for the local government’s new website increased the take-up of its online services.
Our audience research for a UK charity helped them drive measurable engagement across digital marketing channels.
Our recommended user-research-based optimisation of the healthcare charity’s website increased online donations by 61%.
Audience and user related reading
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