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8 UX Research Mistakes That Cost Money w/Examples
User Research

Published on May 11, 2023

8 UX Research Mistakes That Cost Money w/Examples

It is no easy task to design a product that caters to the needs and wants of customers across the board. However, even with all the hard work, resources, and effort poured into a project, sometimes the UX research may go wrong or miss the mark, and companies end up wasting money.

In this article, we will explore 8 common user research mistakes that cost companies money and how they can prevent them. But first, let’s dive deeper into how UX contributes to business success. 

Key Learnings:

UX Research is crucial for ensuring customer loyalty and satisfaction and therefore a vital part of product development.

💸 The cost of making design mistakes is much higher than the cost of conducting UX research (as seen in the Snapchat redesign blunder)

🎯 For successful UX research always define a clear goal and select the correct methods

📊 Base decisions on data and not assumptions or opinions

😎 Test your product with real users that match your target audience

❌ Don’t spend too much time perfecting the design and forget about functionality

📈 Use the finding to better your product, and don’t ignore results that show flaws where you didn’t expect

How does UX add value to the business?

As technology advances, companies must stay ahead of the curve to ensure their customer experiences are unparalleled. Therefore, user experience (UX) research is integral to product development since it indicates what customers want in a product or service

Businesses can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by focusing on user experience when designing products that cater to their needs and preferences. Prioritizing the most important features will also enhance the overall customer experience.

Despite the importance of UX research, many companies are reluctant to invest as they perceive it to require a high investment. There’s a common misconception that companies waste more resources than they gain by investing in UX research. However, mistakes can have far more significant consequences.

The cost of making mistakes in UX research

Investing in UX research is like investing in insurance: it may not generate immediate returns, but it can safeguard the company against adverse circumstances that could result in the business’s reputation declining and sales dwindling.

According to a study done by Forrester, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. This is an impressive ROI of 9,900%. Underestimating the value of research can cost your company tons of money on redesign and sometimes even a stain on your reputation. That’s why it’s important to integrate research throughout the whole UX design process: it will always cost a couple of times more money to redesign a finished product than to adjust a prototype.

For example, Snapchat redesigned its app a few years ago, which received widespread negative feedback from users. The redesign made it difficult for users to find and interact with friends’ stories, leading to declining user engagement and revenue. As a result, the company had to revert some of the changes and release new features to address user complaints, decreasing stock price and market share.

snapchat redesign

Image source.

By investing in UX research and avoiding costly mistakes, businesses can create truly user-centered products that drive long-term success.

So, what are these mistakes exactly? Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones. 

8 UX research mistakes that cost companies money

1. Unclear goals and benchmarks

An often-overlooked mistake made during UX research is not being specific enough in defining goals and objectives before beginning the process. Without objectives, companies risk wasting time and money for no gain.

A detailed action plan before research begins can help set clear objectives and expectations. Companies should outline what they want to learn, their target users, and what method they will use to collect data, such as email or a customer service system. It will help create a roadmap for the project and ensure that all efforts are focused on achieving the desired results. Regular updates should be implemented throughout the process as new information comes to light or changes occur within the industry or customer base. 

By taking these steps, companies can ensure that their UX research yields valuable data that helps them better understand and serve their customers.

2. Using the wrong research methodology

Every research method has strengths and limitations, and choosing the wrong one can result in unusable, irrelevant, or even misleading data. 

For instance, using a survey to gather qualitative user data or conducting usability testing without considering the context in which users will interact with a product can result in misleading results that do not reflect user behavior. 

To avoid such mistakes, businesses must use research methodologies relevant to the research questions, project goals, and users. It’s also essential to select methods that consider the context of use, such as usability testing in a realistic environment, to ensure that the results accurately reflect user behavior. 

In some cases, it is possible to adopt a mixed-method approach by combining multiple user research methods, such as surveys, interviews, and usability testing. By gaining a holistic understanding of the user’s needs, behaviors, and preferences, businesses can improve user experiences.

A mixed-method approach provides deep, rich research insights, which are needed as more businesses turn to a product-led-growth strategy.

Joe Bland, Head of Design @ Zeller
Joe Bland, Head of Design @ Zeller

The research process is like navigating a maze. It takes patience to find the proper research methodology and avoid dead ends. But with careful planning and a determined attitude, you can find the answers you need and arrive at your destination.

3. Failing to prioritize user needs

Users may have different needs and desires when engaging with a product or service. Therefore, companies need to consider these differences when conducting UX research by creating separate user personas and considering how each persona would experience the product or service.  

Spotify, for instance, solved the issue by creating separate user personas for their music streaming service, such as “casual listeners,” “music enthusiasts,” and “playlist creators.” 

Spotify graphic of different user personas

Image source.

By understanding how each persona uses the platform, they tailored the user experience to meet the needs and expectations of each group. This solution can help companies uncover new areas of opportunity within their user base and identify potential problem areas that need further investigation. 

4. Assuming instead of being data-driven

User data constantly changes as new technologies are released on the market, different demographics enter the mix, and user behaviors shift over time. Therefore, prior to making any decisions, companies should ensure that their data is current. Otherwise, they risk making decisions based on outdated information, which could deviate from what users want from their product or service. 

There’s a technical name for the absence of user research: Guessing. The problem with guessing is that the odds are against the decision-makers guessing right.

Jared Spool; writer, UX designer and researcher, speaker, educator
Jared Spool; writer, UX designer and researcher, speaker, educator

An ineffective approach to data collection is usually a result of two shortcomings:

  • Ignoring qualitative data
  • Relying too much on quantitative data

Let’s examine them in more detail. 

Although qualitative data, like user feedback, interviews, or usability testing, can provide valuable insights into how users interact with a product or service, they are often overlooked. However, by analyzing this data, companies can identify potential improvement areas and develop solutions tailored to their customers’ needs.

On the other hand, by focusing only on quantitative data, companies may miss important aspects of user experience, such as usability and user feedback. Quantitative data alone cannot provide a complete picture of user behavior and needs – other elements, such as qualitative data, must be considered for a comprehensive overview.

5. Not taking time to develop a proper user journey

A user journey summarizes user or customer interaction with a product or service, from the initial discovery phase to the final conversion or action. When companies fail to create a clear and intuitive user journey, they risk losing potential customers and revenue. Without a well-planned user journey, users may become confused, frustrated, or disengaged, leading them to abandon the product or service altogether. 

The process of developing a proper user journey map consists of the following steps:

  1. Identify the various touchpoints that a user will have with the product or service, such as website visits, email communications, or customer support interactions.
  2. Once the touchpoints are identified, map out the user’s actions, emotions, and thoughts at each journey stage. 
  3. The user journey map should be visual and easy to understand

Companies can better understand user and customer needs and preferences by following the user journey and engaging with customers during product development. As well as helping them identify gaps in the market, it can uncover innovation opportunities.

6. Missing out on opportunities to test with users

Not testing product design with users is another common mistake that can cost companies money. Usability testing helps organizations identify where changes are needed in order to improve the overall user experience, including elements such as navigation, content layout, and structure. It also provides first-hand feedback on the design’s effectiveness at meeting customer needs, allowing designers to adjust as necessary.

💡Pro Tip

Running several rounds of usability testing throughout the design process will help to pinpoint the usability issues early on and leave more time for fixing them.

One example of this practice is Brooks, a company dedicated to fitness enthusiasts that offers its customers a chance to sign up and test the latest running shoes and gear and, based on the feedback, modify their design and usability. 

Brooks product testing application page

Image source.

In user testing, it’s important to remember that users sometimes may need clarification or get outright confused if a company uses complex language or jargon, which can result in incorrect responses in user testing. Therefore, keeping your instructions or questions clear and straightforward will lead to the best results. 

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7. Focusing too much on design elements

When design takes precedence over functionality, it can lead to a confusing user interface, making it difficult for users to complete their desired tasks and slow page load times. 

While aesthetics play an essential role in a product’s appeal, overemphasizing design can come at the expense of usability and functionality. A complex design element can also take a lot of time and resources to develop, increasing costs and delaying product launch. 

💡Pro Tip!

Learn more about the importance of aesthetics for usability and the power of the Aesthetic Usability Effect

A better approach is to focus on user-centered design and prioritize the user experience. This can involve conducting user research, creating prototypes, testing prototypes and products with real users to identify usability issues and areas for improvement. By keeping the user’s needs and preferences in mind, businesses can create designs that look great and provide an optimal user experience.

user-centered design graph chart

Image source.

8. Ignoring results that differ from expectations

UX research should focus on discovering accurate insights about users’ motivations and preferences.

Generic questions like “Did you like this feature? ” can provide useful information but may not provide meaningful results. Respondents should be instructed on exactly what questions to answer during surveys and focus groups. It also helps increase response rates since people will participate more willingly if they know what kind of questions to expect. Research shows that survey response rates are generally between 5% and 30%, and 50% or higher is considered excellent.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the results may differ from expectations, but valuable results should still be implemented despite potential variances. 

Unexpected results may also indicate areas that require urgent attention. For instance, researchers may expect users to interact with product features in a certain way, but the actual usage data reveals inconsistencies with those expectations by large portions of users. In light of this, further investigation and design decisions should be revisited.

When analyzing the data collected during the research, it’s essential to do so objectively, without preconceived notions or biases. This means looking at the data as it is rather than interpreting it to fit pre-existing assumptions.

Conclusion

Effective UX research is vital for companies and requires a proper investment of time and resources. Poor execution of UX research can lead to significant financial losses, missed opportunities, and time wastage. Companies must use reliable UX research tools and techniques to avoid the mistakes described in this article. With careful planning and thoughtful execution of user research methods, companies can achieve long-term success.  Therefore don’t hesitate and start conducting UX research and register for our free UXtweak account now.

FAQ: UX Research Mistakes

Why is it important to define research goals in UX research?

It is important to define a clear and specific UX research goal because the goal will guide the research process. A well-defined goal helps researchers to pick the right methods and tools for user research and gather relevant data.

Without a clearly defined goal, UX research can become ineffective, unfocused, and waste money and time.

What are the most common mistakes in UX research?
  1. Unclear goals and benchmarks
  2. Using the wrong research methodology
  3. Failing to prioritize user needs
  4. Relying on assumptions rather than data
  5. Not developing a proper user journey
  6. Missing out on opportunities to test with users
  7. Focusing on design elements over functionality
  8. Ignoring results that differ from expectations
How to avoid making common UX research mistakes?

To avoid the most common mistakes in UX research it is best to create a comprehensive research and testing plan with clearly defined goals and methods that will be used. Regularly reviewing the research plan and not straying too far, is important, as is backing every decision made with data and not assumptions or opinions.

Oliver Stasinszky
May 11, 2023
All author's articles

Oliver Stasinszky is an outreach team lead at LiveAgent, with an e-commerce and customer service background. Passionate about writing, reading, and learning how to play any musical instrument he comes across.

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