Qualitative research should be your first port of call if you want to understand your customers’ user experience better. Qualitative research allows you to validate your assumptions and design by speaking directly with users. It helps answer questions like: what are customers trying to achieve with our product? What barriers do they face in achieving those goals? How can we remove those barriers? 

Market research online communities (MROCs) allow brands to communicate directly with their consumers by continually collecting feedback and gaining a deeper understanding through ongoing dialogue. This article will dive deep into the meaning of user experience research and how businesses can utilize MROCs to make their user experience research process seamless. 

Customer Experience Vs. User Experience

Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) is a broad concept that deals with the entire customer experience, from first contact all the way through to long-term loyalty. CX covers all of the touchpoints between you and your customers, from usability to design to product quality, as well as customer service. 

User Experience

The user experience is how a user interacts with and experiences a product, system, or service. The term encompasses all aspects of the end-to-end experience with a product or service — from initial contact to ongoing interactions and transactions — considered in terms of satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty. A good user experience supports business objectives by maximizing usability, accessibility, design, inclusion, and user interface.

In general, CX pros work to understand the entire ecosystem of touchpoints that customers experience—potentially including multiple products. UX pros, on the other hand, focus more specifically on the design of the product experience.

Market Research Communities 

A market research community is an online group of engaged individuals who are willing and interested in participating in online surveys and in-depth discussions about product or service experiences. Research communities allow brands to communicate directly with their consumers by continually collecting feedback in real-time.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building an MROC, but there are key components that every successful community should have.

A good MROC has two things:

  • A clear purpose: What do you want participants to learn from the experience? Are you looking for them to develop more ideas for products or services based on what they already like, or are you seeking opinions about the next generation of products and services? The answer will determine how your community is structured and what questions you ask in your surveys.
  • A strong incentive: You need something that motivates people enough that they’ll take time out of their busy lives, participate actively in discussions, give honest answers—and then tell others about their experience afterward! The right incentive can be as simple as free swag or as elaborate as invitations to special events; it all depends on what drives each person involved. 

Marketers can use this information to improve their products or service and provide better experiences for those who interact with their brands.

How Brands Can Test UX With Communities 

MROC offers companies an on-demand pool of consumers from which to gather feedback. Feedback can help perfect new product features or even spur ideas for entirely new prototypes. 

The main methods for using communities for UX research are in-home usage testing, customer journey maps, accessibility evaluations, and surveys. 

In-Home Usage Testing 

In-home usage testing is a research method that allows researchers to observe how people interact with products in their natural environments. This type of research offers valuable insights into how people use products and services and how they feel about them.

In-home usage testing can be used to gain insight into a variety of areas, including:

User experience: How does a user interact with a product or service? What features do they use? What functions do they not use? Are there any usability issues?

Usage patterns: How much time do users spend with the product or service over time, and what are their favorite uses for it? The answers to these questions can help identify areas where the product needs improvement.

Delta Testing

Delta Testing is a way for Fuel Cycle customers to capture continuous user feedback for improving hardware and software, including mobile apps, websites, and physical products.  Within Delta Testing, conveniently located within Fuel Cycle Communities, users can report bugs, request new features, and collaborate with other users on their feedback. Community moderators, product managers, and developers can respond directly to users, accelerating the cadence of user feedback applied to product development. Because today’s digital products are built continuously, rather than in discrete cycles, businesses need continuous feedback to help inform ongoing improvements that keep up with always-evolving customer expectations. 

The benefit of Fuel Cycle’s Delta Testing is that it enables the integration of ongoing feedback into all stages of the product development lifecycle, pre- and post-launch.  It operates in cycles of phase scoping, tester replenishment, tester engagement management and feedback management, and presentation and implementation of results.

Accessibility Evaluations 

An accessibility evaluation is a systematic way to collect and analyze data about how people use a product or service. It’s often used by researchers to study how well the design of a product or service meets the needs of people with disabilities.

Accessibility evaluations are also known as “access audits” or “access reviews.” There are many different methods that can be used to conduct an accessibility evaluation, but they all have some things in common:

They involve collecting data on inclusion multiple perspectives:

  • The perspective of users with disabilities may have different needs than other users. For example, people who are blind may need audio descriptions for images or video content, while people who are deaf may need captions for audio content.
  • The perspective of developers, designers, and others who build products and services (including websites). These people need to understand what makes something accessible for people with disabilities so that they can make changes in their designs.

System Usability Scale

The System Usability Scale (SUS) is an assessment consisting of 10 questions that allows you to measure UX performance. It is used to evaluate a wide variety of products and services,including hardware, software, mobile devices, websites and applications.  The SUS method measures things like ease of use, integrations, and intent to use again.  You can track benchmark data that helps grade your performance against historical averages and allows you to monitor improvement of each UX over time. 

SUS is compatible currently with three survey designs: Benchmark System Usability, Benchmark Your Figma Prototype’s UX, and Benchmark Website Usability.

Bottom Line

When done well, user experience research can greatly impact your business. You’ll have more insight into what people want and need — which means you’ll be able to provide them with exactly that. And this will lead to happier customers, more sales, and higher profits.

Want to learn more about UX testing? Check out our webinar, Accelerating Qualitative User Experience Research with Machine Learning, today.