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How to write a UX research plan

Measuring the User Experience (UX) of your website should be a constant process, not an occasional chore. Are enough website visitors progressing to goals such as buying or enquiring? If not, why not? UX research has the answer, and here’s a rundown on how a research plan can help.

At its most basic, user research helps you to understand how customers travel along your online marketing funnel (home > product/service > sale/enquiry).

The benefit of a UX research plan is that you break these activities down and also outline your goals, timescales, budget and evaluation activities.

Once you have this plan in place you can develop online sales in a continuous flow.

This article shows you how to create a UX research plan that’s intuitive and easy to action, bringing tangible results.

Goals of UX Research

Your UX Research plan should help you to identify things on your website (and other digital activities) that are problematic, but also ideas to continually improve your website performance.

User Experience Roadmap

A UX roadmap helps you to formalise your testing and research. It’s important to track your tests and run them scientifically, otherwise you’ll end of redesigning willy nilly and not knowing what works and what doesn’t.

If it’s properly focused, it should help you innovate, formulate new content and develop promotional ideas or online marketing campaigns.

Therefore, the starting point of your plan should be your goals and expectations. For example:

  • What is your ecommerce conversion rate now, and what do you need it to be?
  • What’s your average order value, and how much do you want to increase it by?
  • What new ideas do you want to try out on your website?
  • Are there new customer types you want to reach?

Set milestones for these goals, and methods of measuring progress.

The usual method for measuring progress is good’ol Google Analytics. For example, if you’re tracking your ecommerce rate, then go to Google Analytics > Conversions > Ecommerce.

Know your audience

It’s important to reiterate that market segmentation and having a clear customer ‘persona’ is a process of continuous evaluation.

Some ecommerce companies have different customer segments depending on the season or product promotion. For example, Oakley may have customers who buy sunglasses in the summer months, but snow goggles in the winter season.

So, your plan needs to include the sort of customers you need to attract, and the likely value propositions, pricing and other content that will ‘pull’ them towards a completed transaction.

Pro tip: This information is also of value in completing other steps in improving your online experience, such as formulating feedback survey questions.

Online behaviour, by numbers

Graph showing online behaviours

When you know what your website visitors ‘look like’ – and the reactions you want – the next step is to set up the systems to constantly evaluate your website’s UX performance.

Quantitative research shows the most productive features and pages, and where the gaps, overlaps, hurdles and turn-offs are.

Having detailed analytics could be supplemented by both onsite and remote user trials.

From this, you can plan improvements and new initiatives.

Examples

  1. Do you lose customers at your transaction page when they see the delivery costs and timescales? (One of the main reasons for abandoned shopping carts.) Would making these factors clearer, sooner bring sales up?
  2. Do you lose them right from the home page, indicating a need for more compelling (user focused) content?

Speed tests

Your UX Research Plan should also include regular tests of whether your website is quick to load and easy to navigate across all devices and browsers.

You can’t afford to be complacent about this, as you could be losing substantial numbers of sales, especially if your mobile optimisation is poor.

Amazon’s calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year

Pro tip: To find the pages that are slowing down your site head to Google Analytics > Site Speed > Page Timings. Find the top 10 pages and find the pages with the highest Avg. Page Speed (see screenshot below). Check the slowest pages for large images or any scripts (code) slowing it down.

Measuring customer reactions

Another important aspect of UX Research is evaluative work to explore customer engagement with your website beyond the numbers.

Analytics can’t always fully reveal why customers visit your pages, and why they click away.

Your UX Research Plan should include methods to measure the emotional and decision-making processes your potential customers go through. What are their expectations when visiting your website?

This necessitates getting ‘up close and personal’ with your website users, such as onsite or remote customer focus groups.

Remote tests – especially of new features or pages – can provide unbiased and insightful feedback. Getting user feedback will prove that any new features or changes you’ve made will (or won’t) be successful before you develop them.

UX research speed tests

With tools like Usability Hub, you can pre-test mockups of your proposed web design to find out of users understand it. Furthermore, you can run speed tests and ask your users what elements they remember. This is a really quick way to understand if the right elements are clear in your design.

Pro tip: Use Usability Hub and for $5, you can get 5 people to test prototypes (just flat designs) and get results within 1 hour.  Do a simple 5 second test to measure people’s first impressions of your designs.

Advanced UX Research techniques

Taking your UX Research Plan to even greater depth often relies on professional support.

Factory Pattern is a specialist in UX Research. We help clients to develop strategies and plans, and activities to make measurable improvements.

This includes delivering services such as heatmapping, eye movement tracking, preference testing and a/b testing initiatives.

Contact us to start work on a User Experience Research Plan that makes sense of every pound that you are spending on marketing and sales outreach.