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Whenever you plan to conduct UX research, you need a strategy. 

It should act as a guiding document that pulls all aspects of the research process together and creates a practical plan of action. 

However, creating a solid UX strategy might seem like a daunting task, especially if you're new to it. In this blog post, we’ll show you why you should create an effective UX research strategy, how to do it, and what to include in it.  

Table of contents

What is a UX research strategy?

In essence, a UX research strategy is a plan of action that outlines your approach to gathering, interpreting, and applying user data to understand the product or service experience from the perspective of your users.

It serves as a roadmap that guides the product team from the early stages of concept development to the final stages of product refinement and beyond.

The strategy identifies the key objectives of your UX research and the actions, tools, and methods you need to meet them. 

A UX research strategy also creates a shared vision of what the research process will look like so that all stakeholders and team members are on the same page.

UX research strategy vs UX strategy: what’s the difference?

To understand the difference between a UX research strategy and a UX strategy, let’s first define a UX strategy. 

UX strategy is a plan of action on how the user experience of a product or service will be developed to align with your business objectives. It is an overarching outline of the steps you need to take to ensure that the final product or service offers a positive user experience.

On the other hand, UX research strategy is a subset of UX strategy that focuses specifically on the research aspect. It outlines the methods and techniques that will be used to gather user data and insights. 

While UX strategy deals with the larger question of how the user experience will be designed to meet business goals, the UX research strategy is concerned with how data about user needs and behaviors will be collected to inform that design process.

Why is a UX research strategy important?

A UX research strategy is critical for several reasons. 

Firstly, it serves as a guiding plan for your UX research. It helps you create a comprehensive and coherent process that communicates the goals and methods necessary to conduct your research. 

It mitigates the risk of failure by ensuring that everyone on the research team and beyond understands the goals and the methods used instead of relying on assumptions

A well-planned UX research strategy can also be a considerable time and resource saver. By identifying the tools and techniques you will use, it helps you prepare in advance.

Lastly, it ensures that the research process aligns with business objectives, tying it to business goals and demonstrating how it can support them. 

How to create a UX research strategy

Here are the steps you need to take to create an effective UX research strategy.

Define the objectives of your UX research

What specific questions are you trying to answer with your UX research? What do you hope to learn or accomplish?

Your UX strategy should name and explain the key objectives of your UX research, as well as provide a roadmap and set expectations on how they will be achieved. 

Select the UX research tools and methods

Once you’ve clarified your objectives, it’s time to select the right tools.

There are two broad categories of UX research methods: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative methods, like interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic studies, provide in-depth insights into user behavior, motivations, and experiences. 

Quantitative methods, such as UX surveys and analytics, provide numerical data that can be used to identify trends and statistical patterns. 

Some research objectives might require a mix of both.

qualitative vs quantitative research methods
The difference between quantitative and qualitative research. Source: User Interviews

If you decide to include surveys in your UX research plan, there are plenty of standardized templates you can use with little to no customization, including the popular Usability Metric for User Experience (UMUX) survey:

When deciding on the right tools, consider the following factors:

This video explains in more detail how to pick the right UX research method to achieve your goals:

Select research participants

Selecting the right participants for your UX research is crucial as the insights drawn from your research largely depend on whether your participants accurately represent your user base. 

Start by defining your user persona based on your target audience. This should include demographic information, behaviors, attitudes, needs, and goals. Your user persona will guide the selection of your research participants by providing a clear image of who you should involve in your research.

Based on your user persona, establish a set of criteria for participant selection. Be sure to consider any technical proficiency or domain knowledge that might be needed to engage meaningfully with your product or service.

Once you have your recruitment criteria, screen potential participants to ensure they fit your user persona.

This can be done through a screening survey that asks potential participants about their background, behavior, preferences, and any other relevant information. The responses can then be used to determine if a potential participant meets your criteria.

Surveys offer an easy way to recruit UX research participants. Customize the template below to start your recruitment process in no time:

To gather a broad range of insights, aim for a diverse group of participants. Different perspectives can help uncover unique insights and ensure that your design meets the needs of a wide range of users.

Create a timeline

When creating a timeline for your UX research, analyze the scope of your objectives as they will influence the time you'll need to allocate for each phase.

Break down your research into key stages. This could include:

- planning, 

- recruiting participants, 

- conducting the research, 

- analyzing the data,

- presenting the findings.

However, keep in mind that UX research often takes longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances, such as delays in recruitment or technical issues. It's a good idea to build in some buffer time to accommodate these potential obstacles.

To present your timeline and help all stakeholders keep track of key milestones and deadlines, you can use a tool such as a Gantt chart.

ux research gantt chart
Use a Gantt chart to visually represent your UX research timelines. Source: UXmatters

Decide how you’ll analyze and present the findings

How you’ll present the findings of your UX research will largely depend on the techniques and methods you've used to collect your data. 

For instance, if you've conducted qualitative research, such as user interviews or focus groups, you might employ thematic analysis to identify patterns and themes in your data. 

thematic analysis
Thematic analysis is one of the most common forms of analysis within qualitative research. Source: User Interviews

For quantitative research, such as surveys, you'll likely use statistical analysis to identify trends, averages, or correlations in your data. 

Regardless of the method, the aim is to extract meaningful insights that answer your research questions and meet your objectives.

When it comes to presenting your findings, clarity and relevance are key. Begin by summarizing your key insights, and provide evidence from your data to back up these findings. 

Visualizing your UX research data can greatly enhance the accessibility of your findings. Charts, graphs, and infographics can help to clearly communicate patterns, trends, or significant points in your data.

survicate dashboard
Survicate allows you to collect and analyze all your UX survey data in one place.

Don't forget to tailor your presentation to your audience. Your stakeholders may not be familiar with UX research terminology, so keep the language clear and jargon-free. Highlight the key insights that are most relevant to their interests or role.

Lastly, make your findings actionable. Link your insights to potential design decisions, improvements, or further research. By demonstrating the value and applicability of your research, you help ensure that your findings are not just informative, but transformative.

Best practices for creating a UX research strategy

When developing your UX research strategy, pay attention to these best practices. 

Align with business goals

Ensure your research strategy aligns with your organization's overall goals and clearly state how it will support them. This not only increases the chances of buy-in from stakeholders but also ensures that the research will have tangible impacts on the business.

Define clear objectives

Clearly define what you want to achieve with your UX research. This will guide your choice of research methods and help you focus your analysis.

Use a mix of research methods

Combining qualitative and quantitative research methods can provide a more holistic understanding of your users. Quantitative research can provide broad, generalizable data, while qualitative research can provide deeper insights into user behaviors and motivations.

Understand your users

Use tools like user personas, journey maps, and empathy maps to gain a thorough understanding of your users. This understanding should guide your research planning and help you interpret your findings.

Prioritize accessibility

Remember that your user base likely includes people with various abilities and disabilities. Your research strategy should prioritize accessibility, ensuring that all users can successfully use your product.

Keep iterating

UX research isn't a one-time activity. The user's needs, market trends, and business goals continually evolve, and your research strategy should, too.

Communicate effectively

Clear communication with stakeholders is crucial throughout the research process. Ensure your research objectives, methods, findings, and recommendations are clearly and effectively communicated to all relevant parties.

Make it actionable

The goal of UX research is to inform decision-making and drive improvements. Ensure your findings are translated into actionable insights that can guide design decisions.

Send UX surveys with Survicate 

Creating a UX research strategy might seem complex, in particular when dealing with large projects. 

Whatever the size of your study, ensure that the user remains at the heart of your strategy and design decisions.

Surveys offer an easy and cost-effective way to discover user insights. With Survicate, you can automate the entire process of sending surveys and analyzing results so you can focus on other aspects of your UX research.

To get started, simply sign up for the 10-day free trial and select a template from our vast library of UX surveys. Remember you can customize and translate any of the templates, as well as integrate natively with your favorite third-party tool. Happy surveying!