Will your UX research initiative fizzle out or do you have a long-term, realistic strategy in place that will allow your organization to benefit from UX results for years to come?

Tetra Insights Founder & CEO Michael Bamberger and Chief Product Officer Josh Wexler discuss how companies can traverse the peaks and troughs of UX research excitement and how to avoid going off the rails.

The Gartner Hype Cycle & User Research

Over the past year, uncertainty has caused businesses to evolve and adapt in ways we never would have anticipated. What about user experience research (UXR)? Well, we believe this volatility has given birth to a “golden age” for customer centricity — where the customer narrative is becoming a major driving factor for businesses. Companies are more aware of and invested in customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) than ever before.

However, could this also be the peak of the CX and UX wave, and is it all downhill from here?

Here’s what we know:

  • We are either entering or exiting a “peak” period for UX hype
  • The pandemic triggered a shift resulting in the majority of touchpoints becoming digital
  • UX is seen as a “silver bullet” for sharpening digital products and features
  • UX Research now has a significant influence on strategic decision-making
  • Demand for quality UXR has never been higher

While this surge in qualitative data is a positive development and has finally given UX a seat at the table, it is likely leading to inflated expectations. If there is not a realistic perspective on what UX can do and how much work, time, and money it requires to do it, companies could be setting themselves up for a knee-jerk correction back to quantitative research, strict data sets, and analytic-based decisions.

Tetra Insight’s UX Research Survey Results

We expected UX research to suffer when the pandemic-related economic uncertainty hit. However, it was quite the opposite. Even where UX budgets are expected to become more conservative, reliance on it is still expected to grow.

One explanation for this is that UX research helps mitigate risks.

It’s very clear from the data Tetra has been able to collect that the expected pandemic hit for UX has actually developed into a deeper buy-in for the value of UX research and an increase in commitment. This includes gains in budgets, teams, the volume of work, the scope of work, and leadership’s perspective.

A survey of UX practitioners found that over the next six months

  • 47% expect leadership’s reliance on UX research to increase
  • 46% expect the value of UX research to increase
  • Just 15% expect the budget for UX research to decrease
  • 12% of organizations expect UX research to increase in all areas.

At least 50% of the executives and owners we spoke to expect increases in the UX research over the next half-year in key areas. There were 0% who stated UX positions or reliance would decrease in the near future.

What Should Be Done About UX Right Now?

There is a lot of hype and excitement around UX research right now, and it is being regarded as the “silver bullet” for digital product development. This is both encouraging and sobering knowing what we know about initial peak hype periods. So what should we do?

Key Priorities

  1. Clarify strategy
  2. Optimize operations
  3. Democratize responsibility

Temper Expectations

In order to avoid years of potential backsliding and setbacks for UX research, leadership teams need to be tempering their expectations and reviewing feasibility.

While some disillusionment is inevitable, it can be significantly mitigated by a principled approach on the front end and allow for a more elegant wave toward long-term productivity.

Set researchers free from logistics

Enormous amounts of time can be used in the UX process simply on groundwork — finding participants, scheduling them, managing compliance, hosting interviews and technical support, and media and file management.

Researchers can get bogged down in these tasks and decisions and be distracted from conducting high-quality work. 

Keep Quality High

A correction phase in the perceived value of a process such as UX research can be exacerbated if investments are yielding poor-quality work, which can push leaders to disregard and ignore results.

One way to do this is by democratizing tasks. As researchers spend more time on strategic work, tactical work that is pushed to non–researchers must maintain high standards of quality.

Next Steps

Those interested in taking their organization’s UX research to the next level can take a significant step with a simple, 5-minute Enterprise Insights Maturity Assessment. The results will give you a practical guide for setting goals and measurable objectives for achieving better outcomes from your research and insight work.