When thinking about research, many people think primarily of usability testing. While usability testing is an integral part of user research, many other research methods are essential in determining a product's viability and ensures we are creating the right product. At akanoodles, we use a wide range of user research methods. The first phase of work on any new project is an intensive period of research that’s useful and practical. We conduct ethnographic interviews with target groups, review competitors, and sometimes conduct a round of benchmark usability testing. What all user research has in common, is that it places users at the centre of our process.

Method 1: Quantitative research Quantitative research methods are research methods dealing with numbers and anything that is measurable in a systematic way of investigation of phenomena and their relationships. Surveys and formal experiments (A/B tests) are examples of quantitative research tools. Quantitative user research methods seek to measure user behaviour in a way that can be quantified and used for statistical analysis. An entire quantitative study usually ends with confirmation or disconfirmation of the hypothesis tested. Researchers using the quantitative method identify one or a few variables that they intend to use in their research work and proceed with data collection related to those variables. For example, we worked with British Gas to explore 'How can we reduce contact centre calls and improve self-service channels?'

Method 2: Qualitative research Interviews are an example of qualitative research. Often used to get an in-depth understanding of the experiences and everyday lives of individual users or user groups. Best used for exploring a question or scoping out a problem. It is generally used to answer clear, pre-defined questions in the advanced stages of a research study. The only way to achieve an understanding of the people who are going to use your design is to interview them. If you use design thinking, you will know that the first step and core of the design thinking process is to empathise with your users. Conducting different types of interviews and observations of people in the contexts where they will use your design is a conventional method of doing this type of user research. We often place this type of research at the very beginning of a project to ensure that the overall direction for the project is relevant to potential customers and users. For example, we worked with Tourism Ireland to explore 'Increasing the propensity to travel to the island of Ireland?'