In the fast-growing world of technology a lot of processes are actually based on predefined frameworks, and UX research is no exception. A framework provides a structured approach for tackling a specific problem or process and provides guidance for those who are not familiar with it.
Today, we’ll explore the concept of UX research framework, explain why it matters and why your team needs it, as well as what details about your research it should contain.
➡️ A UX research framework is a systematic approach that guides the process of conducting research.
❗ Having an established UX research framework helps to create a structured approach, save time, align research and business goals and foster collaboration.
✅ There’s a list of key components for a classical research framework, that includes research methods, tools, research plan, analysis techniques and ethical considerations.
🧠 A good UX research framework should provide valuable insight into the company’s research processes and how they’re structured.
💡 To make your framework even more helpful and save time, include handy templates, scripts and cheat sheets that you often use in your research.
What is a research framework?
A UX research framework is a systematic approach that guides the process of conducting research. It helps to ensure that the process is well-structured and organized, and contains a set of research tools, methods and principles that researchers utilize for understanding the users and their needs better.
Why is having a UX research framework beneficial?
Having an established UX research framework in your organization is important for several reasons.
Here are all the things it can help with:
- Creating a structured approach: UX research frameworks bring structure to your organization. Having one assures that all your teams and researchers are on the same page, maintaining consistency across different projects. By having all your key strategies, research methods and research tools outlined in a framework you make sure that each team works following the same principles and no important steps will be overlooked.
- Saving time: following the previous point, having a predefined structured approach to research allows you to save time on reinventing the process for each project and focus on uncovering insights instead.
- Aligning research and business goals: a research framework helps to align your research activities with the broader goals of the organization and ensure it always has a positive impact on the company’s product. It helps to stay clear on the primary goals of each project and prioritize information for better decision-making.
- Fostering collaboration and communication: above all, a clearly defined research framework helps to establish effective communication among teams, ensuring that researchers, designers, and stakeholders are all aware of how research insights can impact the product. It also facilitates a uniform way of presenting research findings making it easier for everyone to act on those insights.
Best practices for creating a perfect UX research framework
Here are some of the best practices we’ve gathered to make the process of creating a framework a bit easier for you:
Involve a diverse team
Include different team members in the creation of the framework and make sure to consult them during the process. This will help to ensure that your framework includes a wide range of insights from people with different backgrounds and experiences, making it insightful and useful for everyone.
After all, you’re not the only one conducting research in your company, therefore, you can’t be the only one writing the framework for it.
Introduce user-centered design principles
Design your framework with the user-centered design principles in mind. It should clearly communicate why research is important and why we want to understand the users.
Explaining some of the principles behind UX can help to generate empathy and empathize on the importance of putting users at the center of any decision-making processes.
Use comprehensive language
As we already mentioned, your framework will often have a diverse target audience of researchers, designers, developers and stakeholders. Therefore, you need to write it in a way that is comprehensive for all of them.
Some tips to keep in mind are:
- Avoid jargon
- Include a glossary to explain complex terms if necessary
- Provide examples
- Use visuals to aid with comprehension
Make it shareable
Our last tip is to make sure your UX research framework is a shareable document that is easy to read and navigate. Make it visually appealing, include a table of contents and clearly structure the information. Customize the framework with the company’s branding to ensure it has the same style as your other documents.
What components to include in a UX research framework?
Now that we know more about the UX research framework and its importance, let’s dive into the process of its creation. There are specific components that your framework should include in order to ensure it’s detailed and provides enough information for those reading it.
Here are the key components you need to include in your UX research framework:
1. Introduction: What is UX research?
Your framework should always include a brief introduction which’ll set the context for the whole document. The target audience of your UX research framework may often include people who are not familiar with the field of UX and are not aware of the goals and importance of UX research. These could be project stakeholders or developers, for example.
Your job in the introduction part is to briefly describe what UX research is and why you do it. Use simple language and explain how exactly it can help the project and give you a better understanding of users’ needs, expectations and pain points.
2. User Research Plan
The next step is to outline the best practices and strategies for writing a UX research plan in your organization.
Describe its structure, format and key elements, such as:
- Research Scope, Goals
- Stakeholders, Participants
- Methods, Team and Roles
- Timelines and Budget
A research plan should serve as a roadmap for all UX research in your project. It explains the methodology of how the research will be carried out, the types of studies, information about respondents, timing etc.
3. Research methods and their use cases
Provide guidance on selecting appropriate research methods based on the objectives, budget and timelines of the study. Describe each of the research methods, explain when they’re useful as well as how to combine them with each other for mixed method research.
4. Documentation methods
Documentation of your findings and insights is an essential part of UX research.
In this section, provide recommended documentation methods and tools for your research projects. Additionally, include any helpful templates that your team uses. These could be usability testing scripts, observation forms, user interview guides and questionnaire examples.
Provide guidelines for note-taking, audio or video recording, and organizing research artifacts for efficient documentation.
5. Methods for processing and analyzing data
Describe what data analysis techniques you use for different research methods. Give tips for identifying common patterns and organizing information, describe the metrics and techniques you use, and explain the factors according to which you tend to prioritize issues.
Here you can also include different data analysis templates, as well as the tools that can assist in the analysis process.
6. Ways to communicate findings
Specify a universal way to communicate your findings. This may include the structure of your research reports and presentations, best practices and guidelines for writing them etc.
Consider the level of detail needed for different audiences, such as executive summaries for higher-level stakeholders and more comprehensive reports for designers or developers.
7. Ethical considerations
Don’t forget to include ethical guidelines to ensure that your studies always adhere to the principles of UX research ethics. Some of these practices are: obtaining informed consent from the participants, ensuring data transparency and participant privacy, as well as following other relevant legal and ethical guidelines.
UX research framework example
Here are two different examples of how you research framework can look:
D-Lab Scale-Ups User Research Framework
The first example is a user research framework for the D-Lab Scale-Up of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It is a long PDF document that outlines the importance of user research and its key principles as well as guides to specific research methodologies, data analysis and visualization techniques and ways of presenting insights. The framework offers a great overview of all the research processes in the organization and the way they’re carried out.
Qualitative UX research framework example
Our second example offers a bit of a different approach to putting together a research framework. This one focuses specifically on qualitative research and is presented in the form of a Notion page.
The framework was created by Leonardo Mattei, a Senior Product Designer at Apple and serves more as a template, combining tips, useful resources and cheat sheets to assist researchers in setting up their studies.
It also contains handy testing scripts and brief templates, as well as examples of sample session notes and UX research reports.
And that’s a wrap! We hope this article gives you a nice overview of the importance and key components of the UX research framework and provides you with enough information to create your own.
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