How To Conduct Inclusive UX Research

How To Conduct Inclusive UX Research

Human society today is increasingly permeated with ideas of inclusivity and creating equal opportunities for people in the usage of infrastructures and technologies. Inclusivity is the biggest challenge in UX/UI today. For example, if the system is designed for voice interaction, what about people who cannot speak? And what about those with limb mobility limitations?

Inclusive UX design should solve such problems. In the future, inclusive UX/UI will be at the forefront of any development: specialists will have to simplify interfaces as much as possible and make them accessible for both tactile and voice interaction. Netflix friendly VPNs already use inclusive UX research before changing their design.

What is UX research?

UX research is analytics that helps understand user needs, feelings, emotions, and behavioral patterns. Why do visitors leave the site when the product is already in the cart? Why don't they browse your catalog to the end? By putting the user first, you can create what they really need, what they will use in their lives. With inclusive UX research, you can find and fix a product problem while it's still easy and cheap to do.

Any inclusive research, such as UI or UX, is important to plan properly. Tomer Sharon, a senior UX researcher at Google, suggests asking yourself 5 questions during the planning stage:

  • What information do you want to get?
  • What will this data give you?
  • What gaps do you intend to fill with this knowledge?
  • What are the solutions?
  • What are your current assumptions?

When you've decided on the purpose and objectives of the research, you'll be able to choose the right method for inclusive UX research.

Why does inclusion matter in UX research?

Inclusive UX research helps to create an inclusive design. Without discovering the real problems of different groups of people it is impossible to create an effective and inclusive design. Even though UX design, which is different from graphic design where tools such as Picmaker are making the process beginner-friendly, has just begun to develop, teams developing serious projects are already using inclusive UX research in their work.

Inclusive design meets the needs of as many people as possible

Inclusive websites, online stores, and apps are made to be usable by people with all kinds of disabilities, from fine motor problems to vision loss.

Some things we're already used to are elements of inclusive design, but we use them incorrectly. For example, a common mistake that almost all webmasters make is filling the Alt text field, in which there should be a description of an image with individual keywords for search engine optimization. However, its original purpose is to translate nonverbal information into text format for screen readers. This allows visually impaired users to understand what is shown in the picture. This is why the Alt text needs to be filled with descriptions rather than a set of words.

Inclusive design helps both people with disabilities and users who simply find themselves in an uncomfortable environment

During the design of an inclusive internet site, you need to keep in mind the variety of problems people face. Constant health-related difficulties are auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual. In addition, there are situational difficulties, which include:

  • The use of small screens on smartphones, smartwatches, and other compact devices.
  • Slow Internet connections.
  • Unfavorable environment: bad light, noisy room.
  • Temporary disability due to a broken arm, lost glasses, etc.
  • Age-related changes.

All of these factors affect the operation of websites, eCommerce platforms, virtual meetings and webinars, applications, and other platforms. If you do not take them into account, you can lose a customer.

Jacob Montoya from FitSW, which provides software for personal trainers and their clients, says “Once we focused on inclusive UX design we were able to make our product better for so many more people. It helped us think about our product usage in so many additional ways. We also received feedback from several people who often felt forgotten by UX designers, that they were very thankful for our focus on this.”

Those who feel forgotten may get frustrated and stop using your product if you ignore their needs. To avoid this, you need to follow a few basic rules.

Best practices for making your user research more inclusive

As we've noted, there are many methods of UX research, and the goal of any of them is to find out what's best for the end-user. By and large, inclusive research boils down to three key methodologies.

  1. Observation. As a rule, users know what they want or need. But there are things they don't realize. So it's important to observe and consider their behavior and reactions if you want to gather useful data for inclusive UX.
  2. Understanding. Gathering information about users isn't even half the battle. It's important to get value out of that information, to understand what they really want.
  3. Analysis. Inclusive research can be valuable, but to put the results into practice, it's important to analyze the findings and understand how the UX design will solve user problems.

Before launching a platform, test it for inclusivity using special tools. Designer Jennifer Aldrich recommends AChecker, Contrast Analyzer, Skala View, and Wave, which provide detailed parses of errors and how to fix them.

The easiest way to identify design pain points is to put yourself in the shoes of someone with a disability. For example, after creating a platform demo, it's worth testing a screen reader on it. This will show how easily visually impaired people can navigate the page.

Another alternative could be to use A/B testing techniques to test several design scenarios on different users to  quickly identify which UX works best. Creative automation tools can help you save precious time during design experimentations.

The composition of the team doing the research affects the results. Compose it correctly

People make conclusions based on their experiences, their life values, and their goals. A team made up of identical individuals is a guarantee of poor research. To get the most useful and important results of the study, the team must be composed of a diverse group of individuals, both male and female.

Read what has already been published about inclusive UX researches

You don't need a lot of research to create an inclusive design. A lot of information is already available in various study materials on the internet. For example, Google has a guide to inclusive research. We definitely recommend reading it before you get started.

Involve people for your research whose problems you want to solve in design

Working with the wrong audience is a waste of time as well as quality results. Not your target audience will not give you the insights that you need, but on the contrary, can even confuse you. Before you search for people for research, you need to make a list of the populations that should be represented in the results of the research.

Get rid of unnecessary questions during research

Fans of minimalist aesthetics will like it: the "less is more" principle fits perfectly with the concept of inclusive UX research. An overcrowded list of questions may scare away some people. Try to put few questions to person as possible to make research unobtrusive. It is better to get qualitative results from 100 people than blurred ones from 500 people.

Final Thought

Inclusive UX design has two main goals:

  1. To make it fast and convenient for users to reach their goal on the site or in the app.
  2. To increase users` loyalty (renew subscriptions, make users return to the site/app).

To realize these goals, it is recommended to conduct inclusive UX research that helps to make your product useful, user-friendly, and actually usable. 5 main rules of effective inclusive UX research:

  1. Know the question you want to get an answer to.
  2. Understand why you need these answers.
  3. Choose the right methods and techniques.
  4. Evaluate resources: money and time.
  5. Determine where, when, with whom to do the research.

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