What you need to know about continuous design

How often should you run user research? And how often should user research insights influence the design team’s decisions? Read on to find out.

Q: When should the UX research team get involved in the design process?

A: All the time! 

If you want to deliver exceptional customer experiences, boost conversions, and supercharge your revenues, then user research needs to be always on. Stop, and the insights stop with it. 

How to do it? Continuous design, powered by continuous research, are vital concepts. Let’s take a look.

Continuous design: Exciting new chapters await your UX team

Think of your online experience as a work of fiction in the making. Every chapter is an iteration, a step forward. But while most books reach their conclusion, you've got a story with a difference. It's never-ending. 

Every chapter is an opportunity to develop your product further, uncover new insights and enrich the online experience. This is the essence of continuous design, often known as iterative design, depending on where you work! 

Think of it this way. Companies like Amazon, Netflix and Google didn’t simply work on a product for a while, release it to the public, and then sit on their laurels. They kept working and improving, conscious of the need to continuously innovate and optimize to stay relevant.  

Continuous, rapid research is the cornerstone of continuous design 

For your design team to deliver iterations at speed and scale, they'll need your help. You definitely don't want your team taking a shot in the dark when it comes to augmenting your product. That's a recipe for disaster!

It's up to you to match their cadence of development, finding a way to deliver reliable, data-driven insights at speed and scale. 

We call this strategy continuous, rapid research: an approach to prototype and product research that's ongoing, repeatable and, of course, super quick. Achieve it successfully, and you'll empower your design team with meaningful insights that supercharge the online experience. 

In fact, research shows that insight-driven iterative design improves the user experience by over 165% over the course of four iterations. Just think what that could mean for your bottom line!

Making rapid research a reality

Devin Harold, Director of UX Research for Financial Services at Capital One, joins our UXpeditious podcast and discusses how he uses a rapid research process to scale user insights and drive some big initiatives.

How to make rapid research a reality in your organization

While standard research involves numerous steps and meetings, rapid research is built for efficiency. 

You'll hold two 30-minute meetings per week. One will be to receive your briefing, and the other will be to report your results. 

Yep, you read that right. From briefing to results in a weekly rhythm. Here's how to do it. 

  • Identify what you can and can't do 

There are certain kinds of tests that work wonderfully for rapid research and some that don't. From building our own rapid research program and working with customers, we've found that usability testing, concept testing studies and qualitative studies are the best way to go. 

  • Establish a broad customer profile 

Who your participants are is just as important as how you conduct research. For success, you'll need to develop almost always-on access to relevant users. We recommend building as broad a customer profile as possible and implementing an automated recruitment process.

  • Optimize the briefing process with pre-defined templates

Your briefing template will help you to streamline the research process, keeping things, well, rapid! We've created a handy briefing doc template, which you can use for inspiration or straight out of the box.

Beyond briefing templates, we also recommend designing reporting templates to help your researchers easily amalgamate their findings. 

  • Embrace agile research 

To meet the need for speed, you'll need to create a defined research process that is easy to follow and repeat. Here's an example of what that could look like in six steps:

  1. Setup: The requester submits their brief through your preferred channel. You review the brief, assess if it's fit for rapid research, and schedule the tests.
  2. Brief: Meet with the requester to discuss their objectives, refine their questions, and ensure everything's clear. We recommend a maximum of 30 minutes for this. We're talking rapid research, after all! 
  3. Plan: Prep everything you need for the test.
  4. Research: Conduct the study, analyzing results as you receive them for efficiency. 
  5. Finalize: Post-analysis, share your study report with the requester. 
  6. Repeat: Start the cycle from the top! 

 

Is rapid really the way to go? 

At this point, we hope you're feeling excited, but we also understand if you're a little nervous. Rapid research is a considerable departure from the traditional way of doing things and might sound a little overwhelming. But rest assured that a rapid research program is very achievable - and will make your job easier, not harder! 

More than that, rapid research is a fantastic opportunity to unleash the potential of data-driven insights across the product lifecycle. It will help you build a collaborative culture, democratize user research and, ultimately, create better online experiences.

We want to caveat, too, that rapid research works harmoniously with more in-depth studies. You can do both in tandem! We recommend a blended approach, where you use rapid research to enhance the continuous design process while leaning on standard methods for quantitative research.

 

Ready to iterate your UX strategy and embrace rapid research? UserZoom is on hand to help you to keep up with the sprint pace. Find out more here. 

The Rapid Research Framework

How to speed up decision-making and boost agility