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Research should be a part of every UX design project. While clients are often tempted to scale back or even eliminate research, it’s a risky practice. Previous findings may no longer be relevant. Target audience needs may have changed. Features and functionality need to be prioritized. Documented research provides guidance during the design and development phase. UX designers must understand user needs to prototype and build personas. Developers often need to know why certain design decisions were made, in case they need to make adjustments.
Here are three good reasons why you don’t want to skip the research phase of a design project:
1. You need to understand your current state. You can’t successfully chart a course if you don’t know your starting point. Reviewing and analyzing data during the research phase helps you understand the current state. What’s working well? What could be improved? What feedback has been received on the current application? Data may present issues that warrant further exploration. As you plan your redesign it’s important to create a plan that will address key issues for the best outcome.
2. You need to understand your target audience. Understanding your users is key. Who are they? What motivates them? Why are they using the application? What tasks are most important? User interviews, surveys and other research methods can help you gather information on the unique needs of your audience.
3. You need user input. Project goals should be based on user input as well as business needs. User input will help prioritize features and functionality, making sure the finished product meets the intended goals. Does the navigation make sense to users? How are they searching for information? What information is critical for completing tasks? What are some nice-to-haves?
Overlooking the needs of your users can create a frustrating user experience that could require significant time and resources to address. Allowing time for research will yield feedback from users that will guide the right solution.