Smashing Magazine - #449: UX Research

UX research impact, research invite emails, research without access to users, and UX research methods cheat sheet. Issue #449 Mar 26, 2024 View in the browser

Smashing Newsletter

Joh-eun jeonyeog-ieyo Smashing Friends,

We often discuss UX research at a very high level: it’s surfacing information that helps inform product decisions that lead to great UX, right? Understanding — and even anticipating — a user’s needs is what we’re after. The better we understand our users, the better decisions we make to accommodate them.

There are flavors of UX research. While they all share the same objective — understanding and anticipating user needs — the path to get there will vary. That’s why we are seeing emerging disciplines, like learning experience design (LXD). The product or service you provide determines the context for the type of user experience you’re after.

In this newsletter, you’ll find many pointers towards better UX research. Your very first UX task might be to name your audience something more clearly than “user”. A user can be anyone for anything. But your users are a certain type of user.

Give your audience a label they deserve because that’s your flavor of UX research. Then, and only then, will every problem look more like the problems your audience experiences.

SmashingConf Antwerp
Meet SmashingConf Antwerp (Oct 28–31, 2024), a friendly conference on design, UX, and research.

And as always, here’s a little reminder about a few workshops and conferences we’re tirelessly working on for 2024 — with early-bird tickets and friendly bundles for teams:

We’d be absolutely delighted to meet you online and in-person this year! Sending you a lot of positive thoughts and optimism for the week ahead!

Geoff Graham


1. Measuring UX Research Impact

How can you make sure your UX research makes a real impact and doesn’t collect dust in someone’s drawer? Karin den Bouwmeester proposes a multi-level framework for defining and measuring UX research impact, taking into account all the different angles that need to be considered.

How to measure UX research impact: A multi-level framework

Karin defines three levels for measuring UX research impact: the impact on the customer and business outcome, the impact on the organization, and the impact on the user research practice. Her “Defining & Measuring UX Research Impact” cheatsheet (PDF) makes it easy to ask the right questions and track the right metrics for each level. (cm)


2. Nine Rules Of UX Research

The importance of user research has gained more and more attention lately, and design teams have embraced the idea that they truly need to understand their customers to create products that matter. However, there are still some myths and misconceptions about user research. To correct them, Erika Hall summarized nine golden rules of successful research.

The 9 Rules of Design Research

The nine rules help you adopt the mindset you need when conducting user research. It’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable, knowing your goals and finding good questions, embracing imperfection, collaboration, and learning how leaders make decisions before you try to use data to influence those decisions. Valuable tips that help you get the most out of user research. (cm)


3. UX Research Methods Cheat Sheet

Qualitative research helps us understand human behavior. But how to choose the right research method for a project? Allison Grayce Marshall takes you through the process step by step — from aligning on the time and scale of research to synthesizing your data into insights.

How to choose the right qualitative research methods border=

In her post, Allison discusses when to do qualitative research, the difference between generative and evaluative research methods, and tips for choosing the research method that fits your project best. If you need a short and sweet guide you can refer to during the research phase, Allison also summarized all the considerations in a handy cheat sheet. (cm)


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4. UX Research Without Access To Users

Not every project has the time or resources to run UX research sessions, and particularly if you’re working in B2B or enterprise, there might be NDAs or privacy regulations preventing you from talking directly to users. How can we make UX research work under circumstances like these?

How to Run UX Research Without Access To Users

Vitaly collected workarounds for conducting UX research with no or only limited access to users, as well as tips to help you make a case for better UX research. When your company is reluctant to grant access to users, he suggests explaining that design without research is merely guesswork and asking for small but steady commitments to start a user research practice: 5 users × 30 minutes, once a month can be enough to make a positive change. And once your impact becomes visible, it will be much easier to get access to users. (cm)


5. Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

That’s right! We run online workshops on frontend and design, be it accessibility, performance, or design patterns. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.

Smashing Online Events
With online workshops, we aim to give you the same experience and access to experts as in an in-person workshop from wherever you are.

As always, here’s a quick overview:


6. How To Organize UX Research

Even the best UX research can only make an impact when it is open and accessible to the entire team. To prevent UX learnings from gathering dust in PDFs, Google Docs, or slide decks and ensure everyone in the business can benefit from them, Daniel Pidcock created the Atomic UX Research framework.

What is Atomic UX Research?

Atomic UX Research guides and informs evidence-based design decisions by breaking knowledge down into its constituent parts: experiments, facts, insights, and recommendations. Each of them is a building block on the road to larger discoveries, making it easier to discover patterns and synthesize insights in a reliable way. (cm)


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7. UX Research Invite Emails

Email is a quick and easy way to recruit users for research. But how do we find the right words to ask them to complete our surveys and give feedback? If you’ve ever stared at a blank draft, unsure how to frame your UX research email, Rosie Hoggmascall has your back.

6 great examples of UX research emails

Having been in the same situation before, Rosie decided to do some research on how others craft their UX research invite emails. She examined emails by Notion, Typeform, Strava, GoDaddy, and other big brands across B2B and B2C, and summarized her findings and key takeaways in a post. Valuable tips to help you get more responses to your outreach attempts. (cm)


8. Smashing Library 📚

Promoting best practices and providing you with practical tips to master your daily coding and design challenges has always been at the core of everything we do at Smashing.

In the past few years, we were very lucky to have worked together with some talented, caring people from the web community to publish their wealth of experience as printed books. Have you checked them out already?

Success At Scale
It’s here, and it’s shipping! Success At Scale, a new book by Addy Osmani. Get the book or browse the complete library.


9. Recent Smashing Articles


That’s All, Folks!

Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!


This newsletter issue was written and edited by Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).


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