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5 minute read

Consumer behaviour is constantly changing and evolving, alongside developments in tech and changes in the external environment. Yet only 55% of businesses invest in user experience testing, meaning that many fail to understand their customers’ wants and needs. This means they risk wasting time and budget, producing an experience that doesn’t convert and isn’t fit for purpose.

User research is a critical first step to creating a successful website. We recently spoke in-depth about the importance of UX in web design. However, in this blog, we’ll be delving into the different user research methods available for businesses and what you can learn from each.

Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research methods help businesses to understand the why behind consumer behaviour. Qualitative data provides rich insights into the thoughts and feelings of respondents through the use of open-ended communication. The biggest downside to qualitative research is that it takes time and can be subjective.

When to use it

Here are several scenarios of how you might want to use qualitative research methods to give you insights:

  • To develop a new product or service
  • To research brand and product perceptions
  • To understand consumer purchase behaviour
  • To understand the wants and needs of your target market
  • To explore new market segments

User interviews

User interviews are usually a one-to-one conversation, either in person or over the phone. User interviews allow organisations to hear the thoughts, opinions, stories, and interests of their target market. These can be either structured or unstructured, depending on the aim of your study. However, conducting a large number of user interviews can help you to identify common patterns and themes.


Observations are usually conducted in the consumer’s environment and are a great way of learning more about how they use your website. For example, you could observe shoppers as they move around your online store and how they interact with your products.

Usability testing

Usability is another form of observation that can be completed either in a lab setting or online. This is an excellent way of understanding how users move around your website, what they interact with and where they get stuck in the online journey.

Focus groups

A focus group usually selects 6-12 individuals that fit your target market, which come together to answer a series of questions in a social setting. This can be a great way to generate insights and issues; however, the data can be tricky to analyse.

Customer feedback

Qualitative feedback given through emails, reviews, and NPS (Net Promotor Score) ratings can provide invaluable information about what your customers like and dislike about working with you or using your products or services.


An email survey is a quick way to generate insights into your customers’ thoughts, feelings, and opinions. You can use open-ended questions in your survey to form qualitative data; however, it can be challenging to get your customers to complete these surveys.

Quantitative research methods

Quantitative research provides more statistical insights into ‘how many’ and ‘how much, which can help organisations determine trends in demographic data. In addition, quantitative data can set the basis for qualitative research by highlighting potential pain points in your customer experience, which you can then explore through interviews and surveys.

A/B testing

A/B testing is used to compare two individual elements to see which performs better. This could be the colour of a call-to-action button, the position or placement of elements on a page, an image, a subject line, ad copy for social media advertising, or even the entire page layout. In addition, a/B testing allows you to compare which version or iteration converts better to optimise your performance.

Card sorting

Card sorting allows respondents to organise items or products into either pre-set or recommended categories. This can be incredibly helpful when creating your website navigation and understanding how consumers would group your products or pages.


Eye-tracking and heatmap tools give organisations further insight into how users navigate your website by allowing them to see where on the page users look or interact. Heatmaps enable business owners and marketers to see where potential issues lie – such as confusing layout or broken links – and which paths lead to conversion. This process can help you determine possible pain points and fixes, as well as your most successful website content for conversion.


Surveys are used to gather qualitative and quantitative data, so it’s only fair that we list them twice. Survey data is an excellent way of collecting information about your customers. Making this additional detail optional will help you avoid putting people off of your survey while capturing relevant insights when completed.

Hopefully, you’ve now got a better overview of how user research plays a pivotal role in improving the customer experience for your entire organisation and the user experience on your website. We strongly recommend using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods to determine trends, issues, threats and opportunities for your business, which can then be used to form the foundation of a roadmap of changes.

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