The UX research discipline has been running in parallel with the qualitative and quantitative industry for many years, but it has done so in a self-assured manner without associating itself closely with the MR industry.
 
UX research shares the same principles as the MR industry
Those who specialise in UX Research have a deep and thorough understanding of UX principles and processes. These ideals are formed via academic courses, on the job learning and a scene which encourages meet ups to debate and discuss ideas. Relative to market research, UX research industry is in the early stages of development and is a reaction to the demands of product developers who need to ensure the usability of their products is maximised.
UX researchers are extremely passionate about their craft. There is a language that is specific to the industry – users, personas, contextual enquiries, field visits, usability testing, A B testing, remote testing, guerrilla research – the list goes on. Although a relatively new discipline, it is an industry that shares the same extremely high principles as the MR industry.
 
The Agile approach to product development
The UX Researcher also needs to have a thorough understanding of the ‘Agile’ principle of product development. Agile is a working practice that approaches product development in an iterative manner. Have you noticed how the software and apps on your devices are constantly updating? That’s Agile – small, iterative improvements to products that are already live.
You can read the principles of the Agile manifesto here. Like UX, there is a language that researchers will be accustomed to when working in Agile environments. 
The core principle behind agile is speed and that means getting a product to market in the most basic working manner and then responding to users’ needs and product changes. It has become popular because the speed of technological change has meant that the product envisaged at the beginning of a development process may have changed dramatically by the end of the end of it.
 
Combining MR and Agile
Combining Market Research, UX Research and Agile ways of working will result in powerful insights. We usually advocate user testing that is supplemented with other forms of research that will fit into the Agile process. Here are some of the MR techniques we use most often:
  • Intercept surveys: Intercept surveys can be easily bolted onto user testing at the start of a sprint. These can provide benchmark data about the product performance pre-tasting and can be repeated post-test.
  • Triads: Easy to set up, fast and extremely useful to add context to testing. Running triads before a user test will reveal expectations and attitudes
  • Mobile ethnography: This is a technique that should be used before the sprint, as it takes a while to set up and administer. Users will provide evidence using their Smartphone of their current interactions with relevant products in the category.
Reporting in an agile way
Agile working does not advocate reports that the MR industry produce – this goes against the principles of Agile that champion generative reporting. Agile means daily feedback that builds on the previous days testing.
For those researchers who reside within MR, this style of working requires a shift from the comfort zone of projects offering contextual, strategic, insightful and reflective types of reporting. Those who are most senior find it difficult to adjust to this approach.
UX researchers will often feel that MR reporting is out of date or prescriptive in the way it approaches reports and there may often be a great deal of tension between each function within the same business.
 
Keeping everyone happy
This means that when we work with differing sets of stakeholders and our researchers will provide reporting in two ways:
1. An agile reporting structure that usually comprises a word document provided on a daily basis during the fieldwork period. It lists issues encountered and suggested fixes using UX principles and practices. We will use metric / usage ‘rainbow spreadsheets’ which are immediately available to stakeholders that look like this:

On many occasions a grid and stand up meeting after testing is all that is required and the problems identified will be worked on immediately, if possible.

2, The second document is a more traditional research report, that supplements tactical reporting of user testing with the contextual data we have captured from MR data.

Summary

The Agile approach to product development focuses on tactical changes. If research takes place it may often be guerrilla or pop-up in nature, and testing can often ignore some of the strategic and contextual issues that are at play. We have run plenty of user research projects that have highlighted how the UX has been fantastic, but the concept has been misunderstood or communicated ineffectively.

Clicked advocates merging MR and Agile user testing disciplines to create a comprehensive research plan that is sensitive to the different stakeholder needs. In doing so we provide greater value and strategic insight that will support the brand in the long term.

For more information on how our approach to product development can work for you please contact us here.