Product-led growth

PM’s Guide to Nail User Experience Research

Created on:

June 4, 2024

Updated on:

June 4, 2024

12 mins read

PM’s Guide to Nail User Experience Research

Does your inner voice tell you the new product feature or redesign will get a standing ovation from the crowded market, but it turns out to only drain the budget, being as useless as a screen door on a submarine?

No more irrational product management decisions based on your sixth sense or gut feeling! Today, you’ll learn how to listen to the voices coming from actual users and driven by their experiences.

We’ve created a start-to-finish guide on user experience (UX) research for every user-focused product manager. And we see it in your eyes—you’re clearly our target reader. 

So, dive into the article!

What Is UX Research, and Why Do Product Managers Need It?

In the product management (PM) domain, user experience research, aka user research, is a methodological approach to analyzing users’ interactions with the product, including feelings, preferences, behaviors, and other aspects. As a result, you can holistically look at UX and understand whether the product meets users’ unique wants and needs, how they feel about its aesthetics and functionality, what problems they encounter, etc.

Such user insights are the lifeblood of any product management process. They help PMs sustain product vitality and growth. Navigating UX research as a product manager, you’ll be able to:

  • Save time, money, and human resources on rework or redesign
  • Test and validate your assumptions
  • Localize users’ pain points and put them into your priority matrix
  • Boost user satisfaction by making data-driven improvements
  • Innovate and differentiate your product from the competition
  • Drive conversions and retain more users

Yet, the question arises: how should you kick off? What methods, tactics, and tools are the most rewarding for product managers in user experience research?

We’ve piled them all below.

Top 5 User Research Methods in Product Management

Tests

There is a decent number of user testing methodologies for product managers to gain user-centric insights.

Let’s review some of them:

  • Prototype tests: Prototype testing evaluates prototypes or mockups to gather user feedback and validate a product earlier before investing in full development.
  • A/B tests: PMs and UX researchers implement A/B testing to compare two versions of a feature or product to see which drives a more positive user experience.
  • Usability tests: Thanks to usability testing, product managers observe users in real-life scenarios and situations while using a product/service.
  • Beta tests: Beta testing is a superb UX research method for crowd-testing your product or feature and accumulating valuable feedback.

For example:
Keyhole allows current users to beta test the brand’s most recent TikTok social listening feature to collect suggestions, identify overlooked bugs, and enhance product quality.

Source

Heatmaps or scrollmaps

What buttons do users click most often? What calls-to-action convert leads into buyers? Where do they usually stop when scrolling the page?

A heatmap and a scrollmap are a flawless match of user research tools to analyze user experience in product management and answer all those questions. Whether it’s a website or any other digital interface, they help visualize the customer journey, detect hotspots and coldspots, and validate design hypotheses. Guided by the results, you can optimize content placement, layout, and navigation elements to boost visibility and usability.

For example:

WallMonkeys leveraged scrollmapping and heatmapping to notice areas of website visitor activity. They relied on that data for proper image placement.

Source

Use heatmapping software → Hotjar, FullStory, UXCam

Surveys

Surveying product users is a cost-effective way to acquire quantitative data from a large audience, which can later be integrated with qualitative insights from other research methods.

There are numerous survey options at the product manager’s disposal, like these:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey
  • Visual rating scale (with symbols, emojis, or other graphic elements)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) survey
  • Product feedback survey
  • And others.

For instance, HubSpot finishes user onboarding with the CES question: How easy was it for you to get set up with HubSpot?

Source

And here’s an NPS survey from Typeform.

Source

Use survey tools → Qualaroo, AskNicely, Doorbell

Interviews

Interviews are an amazing way to ace user experience research. During interviews, PMs can connect with users more personally and deepen their understanding of their needs, experiences, and challenges. For instance, it can be a product discovery interview to figure out what users expect and what problems they want to solve.

Interviewing can be executed in various modes:

  • An in-person interview is a face-to-face interaction with participants to discern non-verbal cues influencing user behavior.
  • A virtual interview happens distantly via video conferencing or online communication tools like Zoom or Google Meet.
  • A one-on-one interview is a personalized interaction with a single participant, virtually or in person.
  • A group interview engages several users in sharing their feedback in a group discussion.

For example:

The OpenSearch team interviewed seven community members to understand user frustrations and pain points. The interviewing process called out numerous inconsistencies in OpenSearch’s functionality. These included “color coding, interchangeability of charts, filter application, and zooming in and out of a chart,” in the words of Aparna Sundar, a Lead UX Researcher at OpenSearch.

VoC programs

As a product manager, you’d certainly want to distinguish and capture the voice of the customer (VoC) and keep your finger on the customer’s pulse day and night.

Why not develop a robust VoC program in PM?

It typically involves all feedback types collected with such methods as:

  • Survey
  • Focus group
  • Social media poll
  • Website analytics
  • Feedback widget or form
  • Help center with support tickets, etc.

They provide data-driven user insights that help make informed decisions throughout the product development lifecycle.

Use VoC tools → Zeda.io, ResponseTek, Birdeye

Zeda.io stands out among other VoC solutions because it’s a central hub for gathering user feedback from multiple sources, such as Zapier, Slack, Intercom, etc.

5 Tips for a Product Manager to Conduct Effective UX Research

Organize a team and draw a roadmap

For Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing at Ninja Patches, the success of user experience analysis lies in cross-departmental collaboration right from the beginning. She holds a strong belief that “Before planning and mapping out user research, product managers must assemble a cross-functional team and collaborate with marketers, designers, and developers. Each member can bring a diverse perspective and unique expertise, contributing to the outcomes.”

Two heads are always better than one, right?

For example:

You can create a user research team consisting of:

  • UX Researcher
  • UX Designer
  • Marketing + Content Strategist
  • Visual Designer
  • Web Developer

You can engage representatives from other departments, too.

Now, just like you create a product roadmap, you should build a user research roadmap. It is a strategic representation of your UX research goals, tasks, timeframes, methods, tools, roles, and responsibilities in your team.

For example:

Creating an A/B testing roadmap to gain a bird’s-eye view of A/B tests and stay on the same page with product developers and designers.

Source

Determine your user personas

Buyer or user personas in PM are fictitious characters that portray your ideal customers based on the data about your targeted and actual product users. Defining user personas implies creating detailed profiles with fundamental characteristic features.

In B2C product management, UX researchers pay attention to:

  • Demographic factors → age, earning potential, education, gender, marital status, etc.
  • Psychographic factors → socioeconomic status, mindset, interests, hobbies, etc.
  • Geographic factors → location, urban or suburban zone, language/culture diversity, etc.
  • Behavioral factors → customer journey stage, usage (heavy, medium, or light user), purchasing behavior, etc. 
  • Individual values and needs

Volodymyr Shchegel, VP of Engineering at MacKeeper, shares an example from his business niche (cybersecurity). He says, “At Mackeeper, offering anti-spy software, we have one major user persona – a Gen Z user concerned about online security. Further, we filter user personas by their preferred devices into Android and iOS users.”

You may have more than two user personas. The GitLab team, for instance, constructed 18 user personas, taking into account their jobs, motivations, and frustrations.

In B2B product management, besides the above characteristics, UX researchers concentrate on the following:

  • Technographic factors → preferred social networking sites, gadgets, and technologies
  • Firmographic factors → job role, business size, company’s needs, etc.

For example, here’s a user persona of a professional services firm:

Steve is a 47-year-old CEO of a large financial company worth €85 million. He is an innovator using Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source

Utilize AI’s capabilities

You can’t ignore the potential of AI for product managers.

In fact, 20% of companies already leverage artificial intelligence for user research specifically, and 38% hope to incorporate AI in their future UX analysis.

An AI bot can likewise help your product team analyze customer sentiment by applying NLP techniques to grasp customers’ emotions and intentions.

Other than chatbots, you may try artificial intelligence in PM through AI-powered user research tools like Zeda.io. Ditch manual legwork and monitor user experience automatically with Zeda.io’s AI and ML models.

Collect data from multiple channels

This tactic helps PMs validate cross-channel data and ensure the accuracy of user insights. It also provides richer contextual information about UX.

The top three channels to harvest user data are:

  • Website
  • App
  • Social media

Website 

Why don’t you start collecting user feedback from your website?

“When trying different UX research methods for your web pages, such as heatmaps, feedback forms, or surveys, you turn unfiltered, raw user data from your website, traditionally the first touchpoint with customers, into segmented insights. These methods can be used in combination. Alternatively, you can rely on only one user research method if it proves the most effective,” advises Thomas Medlin, Co-founder at JumpMD, an online telemedicine platform.

For instance, JumpMD uses a Typeform survey on the website.

Source.

Application

Analyzing in-app experiences is vital to understanding how users interact with your application, what they struggle with (annoying glitches or long loading times), and what needs improvement.

Let’s assume you want to learn how users feel about their free trial of your SaaS app. At this point, you’d perform user experience research by collecting in-app feedback. For instance, Keyhole’s product team does that with the help of a 1-to-5 rating survey: How’s your trial going?

Source

Alternatively, you may use Zeda.io’s in-app widget to collect user feedback.

Then, there are in-app user analysis tools like Mixpanel, AppsFlyer, or Firebase.

Social media

Tim White, Founder of milepro, argues that social platforms are the most underrated feedback channels in user experience analytics. “Product managers and UX researchers should consistently track user conversations and comments across social media. It would also be wise to sort out the neutral, positive, and negative sentiment from users,” he recommends.

For example, the milepro team captured the following positive sentiments in user comments on the following Instagram post: good, nice, and love.

Source

Derive UX insights and work out strategies for improvement

Again, Zeda.io’s AI comes like the knight in shining armor and saves the day. It can assist you in generating reports with customer complaints, requests, and sentiments and distilling your customer voices into actionable product insights.

After that, you can carry out UX optimization in product management. Look at several cases.

Case #1. Unite users around common interests.

CEO of Million Dollar Sellers (MDS), Ian Sells, said, “Uniting like-minded users is like gathering them around a friendly campfire. Such a unity fosters a community spirit, empowers users to co-create content with a sense of ownership, and, eventually, turns them into brand evangelists.”

For example:

MDS created interest-based forum groups where eCommerce sellers with similar interests can chat and share their experiences about Shopify, Amazon, TikTok, and other platforms for driving online sales.

Source

Case #2: Personalize experiences.

Slack also nails the UX game.

The brand launched a new customization option to personalize the user experience. Now, Slack users can customize their navigation bars and include their preferred tabs for higher convenience.

Source

Case #3. Adapt to evolving user needs and trends.

Phil Strazzulla, Founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, speaks up about a noticeable tendency in software development. He says, “Today’s users prefer streamlined experiences that let them accomplish multiple tasks in one place without switching between tools. That is why software products are becoming more and more unified and integrative. They are often one-stop solutions that meet diverse user needs.”

For example:

Checkr expanded its HR tech platform from employee background checks to payments, onboarding, and safety screenings with new features: Checkr Pay, Checkr Onboard, and Checkr Trust.

Your Way to Successful User Research with Zeda.io

Now, as a product manager, it’s your duty to spearhead user experience analysis in your team.

With Zeda.io, you have an omnipotent tool to obtain user data across channels, translate it into rich insights, and optimize users’ experiences. Hit the mark with UX research and build products that resonate with users.

Explore Zeda.io for product teams, or sign up now to fuel your product growth!

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PM’s Guide to Nail User Experience Research

June 4, 2024
12 mins read
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IN THIS ARTICLE:
  1. What are product discovery techniques?
  2. 8 key product discovery techniques link
  3. Conclusion
IN THIS ARTICLE:
  1. What are product discovery techniques?
  2. 8 key product discovery techniques link
  3. Conclusion

Does your inner voice tell you the new product feature or redesign will get a standing ovation from the crowded market, but it turns out to only drain the budget, being as useless as a screen door on a submarine?

No more irrational product management decisions based on your sixth sense or gut feeling! Today, you’ll learn how to listen to the voices coming from actual users and driven by their experiences.

We’ve created a start-to-finish guide on user experience (UX) research for every user-focused product manager. And we see it in your eyes—you’re clearly our target reader. 

So, dive into the article!

What Is UX Research, and Why Do Product Managers Need It?

In the product management (PM) domain, user experience research, aka user research, is a methodological approach to analyzing users’ interactions with the product, including feelings, preferences, behaviors, and other aspects. As a result, you can holistically look at UX and understand whether the product meets users’ unique wants and needs, how they feel about its aesthetics and functionality, what problems they encounter, etc.

Such user insights are the lifeblood of any product management process. They help PMs sustain product vitality and growth. Navigating UX research as a product manager, you’ll be able to:

  • Save time, money, and human resources on rework or redesign
  • Test and validate your assumptions
  • Localize users’ pain points and put them into your priority matrix
  • Boost user satisfaction by making data-driven improvements
  • Innovate and differentiate your product from the competition
  • Drive conversions and retain more users

Yet, the question arises: how should you kick off? What methods, tactics, and tools are the most rewarding for product managers in user experience research?

We’ve piled them all below.

Top 5 User Research Methods in Product Management

Tests

There is a decent number of user testing methodologies for product managers to gain user-centric insights.

Let’s review some of them:

  • Prototype tests: Prototype testing evaluates prototypes or mockups to gather user feedback and validate a product earlier before investing in full development.
  • A/B tests: PMs and UX researchers implement A/B testing to compare two versions of a feature or product to see which drives a more positive user experience.
  • Usability tests: Thanks to usability testing, product managers observe users in real-life scenarios and situations while using a product/service.
  • Beta tests: Beta testing is a superb UX research method for crowd-testing your product or feature and accumulating valuable feedback.

For example:
Keyhole allows current users to beta test the brand’s most recent TikTok social listening feature to collect suggestions, identify overlooked bugs, and enhance product quality.

Source

Heatmaps or scrollmaps

What buttons do users click most often? What calls-to-action convert leads into buyers? Where do they usually stop when scrolling the page?

A heatmap and a scrollmap are a flawless match of user research tools to analyze user experience in product management and answer all those questions. Whether it’s a website or any other digital interface, they help visualize the customer journey, detect hotspots and coldspots, and validate design hypotheses. Guided by the results, you can optimize content placement, layout, and navigation elements to boost visibility and usability.

For example:

WallMonkeys leveraged scrollmapping and heatmapping to notice areas of website visitor activity. They relied on that data for proper image placement.

Source

Use heatmapping software → Hotjar, FullStory, UXCam

Surveys

Surveying product users is a cost-effective way to acquire quantitative data from a large audience, which can later be integrated with qualitative insights from other research methods.

There are numerous survey options at the product manager’s disposal, like these:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey
  • Visual rating scale (with symbols, emojis, or other graphic elements)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) survey
  • Product feedback survey
  • And others.

For instance, HubSpot finishes user onboarding with the CES question: How easy was it for you to get set up with HubSpot?

Source

And here’s an NPS survey from Typeform.

Source

Use survey tools → Qualaroo, AskNicely, Doorbell

Interviews

Interviews are an amazing way to ace user experience research. During interviews, PMs can connect with users more personally and deepen their understanding of their needs, experiences, and challenges. For instance, it can be a product discovery interview to figure out what users expect and what problems they want to solve.

Interviewing can be executed in various modes:

  • An in-person interview is a face-to-face interaction with participants to discern non-verbal cues influencing user behavior.
  • A virtual interview happens distantly via video conferencing or online communication tools like Zoom or Google Meet.
  • A one-on-one interview is a personalized interaction with a single participant, virtually or in person.
  • A group interview engages several users in sharing their feedback in a group discussion.

For example:

The OpenSearch team interviewed seven community members to understand user frustrations and pain points. The interviewing process called out numerous inconsistencies in OpenSearch’s functionality. These included “color coding, interchangeability of charts, filter application, and zooming in and out of a chart,” in the words of Aparna Sundar, a Lead UX Researcher at OpenSearch.

VoC programs

As a product manager, you’d certainly want to distinguish and capture the voice of the customer (VoC) and keep your finger on the customer’s pulse day and night.

Why not develop a robust VoC program in PM?

It typically involves all feedback types collected with such methods as:

  • Survey
  • Focus group
  • Social media poll
  • Website analytics
  • Feedback widget or form
  • Help center with support tickets, etc.

They provide data-driven user insights that help make informed decisions throughout the product development lifecycle.

Use VoC tools → Zeda.io, ResponseTek, Birdeye

Zeda.io stands out among other VoC solutions because it’s a central hub for gathering user feedback from multiple sources, such as Zapier, Slack, Intercom, etc.

5 Tips for a Product Manager to Conduct Effective UX Research

Organize a team and draw a roadmap

For Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing at Ninja Patches, the success of user experience analysis lies in cross-departmental collaboration right from the beginning. She holds a strong belief that “Before planning and mapping out user research, product managers must assemble a cross-functional team and collaborate with marketers, designers, and developers. Each member can bring a diverse perspective and unique expertise, contributing to the outcomes.”

Two heads are always better than one, right?

For example:

You can create a user research team consisting of:

  • UX Researcher
  • UX Designer
  • Marketing + Content Strategist
  • Visual Designer
  • Web Developer

You can engage representatives from other departments, too.

Now, just like you create a product roadmap, you should build a user research roadmap. It is a strategic representation of your UX research goals, tasks, timeframes, methods, tools, roles, and responsibilities in your team.

For example:

Creating an A/B testing roadmap to gain a bird’s-eye view of A/B tests and stay on the same page with product developers and designers.

Source

Determine your user personas

Buyer or user personas in PM are fictitious characters that portray your ideal customers based on the data about your targeted and actual product users. Defining user personas implies creating detailed profiles with fundamental characteristic features.

In B2C product management, UX researchers pay attention to:

  • Demographic factors → age, earning potential, education, gender, marital status, etc.
  • Psychographic factors → socioeconomic status, mindset, interests, hobbies, etc.
  • Geographic factors → location, urban or suburban zone, language/culture diversity, etc.
  • Behavioral factors → customer journey stage, usage (heavy, medium, or light user), purchasing behavior, etc. 
  • Individual values and needs

Volodymyr Shchegel, VP of Engineering at MacKeeper, shares an example from his business niche (cybersecurity). He says, “At Mackeeper, offering anti-spy software, we have one major user persona – a Gen Z user concerned about online security. Further, we filter user personas by their preferred devices into Android and iOS users.”

You may have more than two user personas. The GitLab team, for instance, constructed 18 user personas, taking into account their jobs, motivations, and frustrations.

In B2B product management, besides the above characteristics, UX researchers concentrate on the following:

  • Technographic factors → preferred social networking sites, gadgets, and technologies
  • Firmographic factors → job role, business size, company’s needs, etc.

For example, here’s a user persona of a professional services firm:

Steve is a 47-year-old CEO of a large financial company worth €85 million. He is an innovator using Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source

Utilize AI’s capabilities

You can’t ignore the potential of AI for product managers.

In fact, 20% of companies already leverage artificial intelligence for user research specifically, and 38% hope to incorporate AI in their future UX analysis.

An AI bot can likewise help your product team analyze customer sentiment by applying NLP techniques to grasp customers’ emotions and intentions.

Other than chatbots, you may try artificial intelligence in PM through AI-powered user research tools like Zeda.io. Ditch manual legwork and monitor user experience automatically with Zeda.io’s AI and ML models.

Collect data from multiple channels

This tactic helps PMs validate cross-channel data and ensure the accuracy of user insights. It also provides richer contextual information about UX.

The top three channels to harvest user data are:

  • Website
  • App
  • Social media

Website 

Why don’t you start collecting user feedback from your website?

“When trying different UX research methods for your web pages, such as heatmaps, feedback forms, or surveys, you turn unfiltered, raw user data from your website, traditionally the first touchpoint with customers, into segmented insights. These methods can be used in combination. Alternatively, you can rely on only one user research method if it proves the most effective,” advises Thomas Medlin, Co-founder at JumpMD, an online telemedicine platform.

For instance, JumpMD uses a Typeform survey on the website.

Source.

Application

Analyzing in-app experiences is vital to understanding how users interact with your application, what they struggle with (annoying glitches or long loading times), and what needs improvement.

Let’s assume you want to learn how users feel about their free trial of your SaaS app. At this point, you’d perform user experience research by collecting in-app feedback. For instance, Keyhole’s product team does that with the help of a 1-to-5 rating survey: How’s your trial going?

Source

Alternatively, you may use Zeda.io’s in-app widget to collect user feedback.

Then, there are in-app user analysis tools like Mixpanel, AppsFlyer, or Firebase.

Social media

Tim White, Founder of milepro, argues that social platforms are the most underrated feedback channels in user experience analytics. “Product managers and UX researchers should consistently track user conversations and comments across social media. It would also be wise to sort out the neutral, positive, and negative sentiment from users,” he recommends.

For example, the milepro team captured the following positive sentiments in user comments on the following Instagram post: good, nice, and love.

Source

Derive UX insights and work out strategies for improvement

Again, Zeda.io’s AI comes like the knight in shining armor and saves the day. It can assist you in generating reports with customer complaints, requests, and sentiments and distilling your customer voices into actionable product insights.

After that, you can carry out UX optimization in product management. Look at several cases.

Case #1. Unite users around common interests.

CEO of Million Dollar Sellers (MDS), Ian Sells, said, “Uniting like-minded users is like gathering them around a friendly campfire. Such a unity fosters a community spirit, empowers users to co-create content with a sense of ownership, and, eventually, turns them into brand evangelists.”

For example:

MDS created interest-based forum groups where eCommerce sellers with similar interests can chat and share their experiences about Shopify, Amazon, TikTok, and other platforms for driving online sales.

Source

Case #2: Personalize experiences.

Slack also nails the UX game.

The brand launched a new customization option to personalize the user experience. Now, Slack users can customize their navigation bars and include their preferred tabs for higher convenience.

Source

Case #3. Adapt to evolving user needs and trends.

Phil Strazzulla, Founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, speaks up about a noticeable tendency in software development. He says, “Today’s users prefer streamlined experiences that let them accomplish multiple tasks in one place without switching between tools. That is why software products are becoming more and more unified and integrative. They are often one-stop solutions that meet diverse user needs.”

For example:

Checkr expanded its HR tech platform from employee background checks to payments, onboarding, and safety screenings with new features: Checkr Pay, Checkr Onboard, and Checkr Trust.

Your Way to Successful User Research with Zeda.io

Now, as a product manager, it’s your duty to spearhead user experience analysis in your team.

With Zeda.io, you have an omnipotent tool to obtain user data across channels, translate it into rich insights, and optimize users’ experiences. Hit the mark with UX research and build products that resonate with users.

Explore Zeda.io for product teams, or sign up now to fuel your product growth!

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