Keywords: User experience, psychology in UX, User interface, consumer psychology, statistics, research, usability, customer-focused approach, business performance.
Brief history: what does user experience mean?
In an early attempt to define UX, Alben (1996), for example, identified beauty (i.e. aesthetics) as an important quality aspect of technology (Hassen- zahl 2004b, Lavie and Tractinsky 2004). Gaver and Martin (2000) argued for the importance of a whole range of specific non-instrumental needs, such as surprise, diversion, or intimacy, to be addressed by technology. Drawing upon the concept of emotional usability;which is that users are also looking for emotional satisfaction from using and interacting with the products. (Logan et al. 1994), Hassenzahl (2003) argued that future HCI (human-computer interaction) must be concerned about the pragmatic aspects of interactive products (i.e. its fit to behavioural goals) as well as about hedonic aspect, such as stimulation (i.e. personal growth, an increase of knowledge and skills), identification (i.e. self-expression, interaction with relevant others) and evocation (i.e. self-maintenance, memories).
The experiential perspective on UX emphasizes two aspects of technology use: its situatedness and its temporality. In this view, an experience is a unique combination of various elements, such as the product and internal states of the user (e.g. mood, expectations, active goals), which extends over time with a definitive beginning and end. The experiential perspective assumes all these elements to be interrelated – to interact and modify each other. (Marc Hassenzahl and Noam Tractinsky 2006). Yet, none of these perspectives fully captures UX. UX is about technology that fulfils more than just instrumental needs in a way that acknowledges its use as a subjective, situated, complex and dynamic encounter.
What is UX research?
Did you know? Every $1 invested in UX results in a return of $100 (ROI = 9,900%).
User Experience Research (UX) is the process of gaining valuable insight and understanding of users' behaviours, needs and concerns using a variety of observation methods and feedback methodologies. The goal is to provide product development teams with context and perspectives that they can use to make informed decisions and create user-centric products.
UX in the sense of a positive HCI would, thus, focus on how to create outstanding quality experiences rather than merely preventing usability problems. (Marc Hassenzahl and Noam Tractinsky 2006).
In Just Enough Research, Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design Studio, explains that conducting user research is systematic inquiry and can be broken down into three areas: thinking of a question, gathering evidence, and considering what it means.
There are two main types of user research: quantitative (statistics: can be calculated and computed; focuses on numbers and mathematical calculations) and qualitative (related to descriptions that can be observed but not calculated).
What do UX researchers do?
According to a recent job posting by IBM, as a design researcher, you will “help provide actionable and meaningful data-driven insights that represent the voice of multiple users. You will collaborate across development, design, and marketing teams to evaluate current and upcoming user research needs that help to improve product definition and drive business goals.” (CareerFoundry).
CNNMoney’s 100 Best Jobs in America list for 2017 includes both UX designers and UX researchers. The ranking was based on growth rate, salary, and job satisfaction. User experience researchers came in at No. 39, with a median annual salary of $106,000 and an estimated 10-year job growth of 19 percent. User experience designers were No. 99, with a median annual salary of $85,900 and an estimated 10-year job growth of 13 percent.
UX research for psychology Folks!
UX is mainly about understanding people, and with a psychology background it is an added benefit in the role, as the theories of personalities, consumerism will come in handy. As a person who has a better understanding of people, the way in which one can bring their knowledge to the table could potentially come in many different ways in this field. If one is more interested in research, such as understanding people's behaviour towards products through interviews, testing, and analyzing the results, a field of study focused on UX research works best.
Here are a few concepts in psychology that are relevant to the field- Theories and principles from psychology such as the gestalt principle and personality theories are very helpful in the consumer psychology field, the ability to understand people and their emotions, colour psychology, the power of research and the ability to communicate with people in the right way, feedback, competitive analysis and most importantly, empathising with people.
According to Celarity, a Job description template platform, this would be the job description of a UX Researcher:
Create hypotheses, set research objectives, and reach unbiased conclusions.
Conduct quantitative and qualitative research.
Validate assumptions that will guide the product team’s designs.
Discover patterns and insights through focus groups, interviews, surveys, field studies, card sorting, journey mapping, testing, and more.
Keep the product design team on track by focusing on specific goals through user research objectives.
Assist the product team in making design decisions that directly impact ROI – saving your clients’ time and money.
Skills required to be a UX researcher: UX research techniques follow one of three key methodologies: Observing, Understanding and Analysing. To do this it is important for the researcher to have certain key skills. A UX researcher needs to be well versed in analytics and the design process in general, but also needs soft skills such as adaptability, understanding human behaviour, and willingness to collaborate. Some of the other key skills would be analytical thinking, curiosity, research experience, communication skills and attention to detail.
In conclusion, this article was intended on understanding UX research and everything relevant to the field and mainly to shine light on UX research as a potential career field for psychology folks. As customer-oriented industries strive to create products that put customer needs first, user experience becomes increasingly important to business performance. Therefore, UX research and design is an emerging field that is likely to exist for a long time to come.
About the author
Hi! I am C G Abilasha, I am doing my triple major in Psychology, English literature and journalism from Mount carmel college, Bangalore. I love all things related to the mind and how it works and how we can use and change it. But, Do I know any psychology jokes, you ask? I am A-Freud not. I’m interested in pursuing I/O psychology in the future. In my free time, you will find me playing with my dog and reading books.
Marc Hassenzahl & Noam Tractinsky (2006): User experience - a research agenda, Behaviour & Information Technology, 25:2, 91-97
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