How to Make the Most of a Short UX Research Phase

In a perfect world, every design team involved in a project has ample time to carry out extensive research, conduct in-depth usability interviews with a wide range of potential users, and explorations into a variety of different design paths. Unfortunately, those luxuries are rarely available to designers. It’s far more likely you’ll find yourself careening down the development path well before you’ve had time for more than a rudimentary UX research phase. When that happens, you’ll need a cool head and a solid plan to find your way to the end of the journey.

These three strategies are the basis of a solid plan. Pay close attention, as you’re going to have to provide the cool head and nerves of steel.

Step 1 Combine and Conquer

When you’re short on time, you need to combine as many legs of your UX research as possible. No time for separate requirements gathering and stakeholder interview calls? Combine them with a card sorting meeting as part of a single Design Studio session. Leverage the power of having as many involved parties together in a single session, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get accomplished in a single session.

Step 2 The Power Of Crowds

Only tools like Optimal Workshop and Easy Usability give you access to large numbers of remote users for hire. These and other similar tools allow you to repurpose and refine the card sorting results from your mini-design session by creating a sorting experience for hundreds of online users with minimal effort and low costs, thus giving you design feedback that could be crucial to your project.

Step 3 Google It

Before you spend a ton of time and energy redesigning the wheel, check out what the competition is doing. Use Google to find sites, apps, and projects comparable to your current design challenge. Use the “Find Similar” option (you can see it in your Google search results by clicking the green triangle next to any URL) to expand your search and let Google’s algorithms do your heavy lifting. This not only gives you a glimpse at the competition, but it will help you avoid repeating similar designs or making mistakes that are glaringly obvious when you see them in someone else’s work. A quick search can save you a lot of time if you’re willing to do the research.

While none of these strategies is a perfect solution when you’re facing a condensed project delivery timeline, they can and will help you get the best possible results when the schedule is a little too tight for comfort.

Brandon Ward

Chief Experience Officer