The Concise Guide to UX Research for Healthcare Apps

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Quality design starts with research. Whether you’re working on a new project or redesigning an existing one, it’s important to meet users’ real needs. Skipping user experience (UX) research at the start of a project can be costly. In healthcare, investigating user experiences is especially important, since it helps you avoid UX issues and make your product easy to use. In this blog post, we discuss the most popular and efficient user experience research methods and the practical implementation of UX research findings in healthcare.

What is UX research? 

User experience research is often confused with user research; however, these are completely different things. Let’s find out what UX research for healthcare apps is and why it matters for your product’s success. Put simply, UX research is the systematic investigation of users’ needs, behaviors, and requirements in order to get the insights necessary for design solutions. User research, in turn, is aimed at understanding users’ needs and motivations by collecting feedback. It’s usually done as part of UX research. 

You might be wondering what value UX research for healthcare apps can bring. In short, UX research helps healthcare businesses:

  • collect data about a product’s end users
  • analyze the market and check if there’s a need for a product
  • validate business hypotheses
  • discover problems users experience with an app and eliminate those problems
  • get feedback from end users and meet their needs
  • develop valuable and usable designs
  • improve overall user satisfaction

All of these things will help you make a human-centric product. Moreover, in healthcare, they can empower you to improve human lives. 

How to conduct UX research

UX research for healthcare apps will make a real impact on your product and help you streamline your team’s efforts to create the maximum value for users. Let’s analyze five steps you should follow to conduct UX research that will bring real benefits to your business.

Step #1 Conduct UX research at the early stage

UX research is important to understand your users’ needs and behaviors. It’s vital at every stage of the design process, especially in the healthcare sector. However, it’s particularly important to conduct UX research at the very beginning of product development to get to know your audience. In addition, conducting user research early will help you reduce the number of design iterations and ensure your product is user-focused right from the start. 

Step #2 Set clear goals

At this point, we already know that conducting UX research for healthcare apps is important. But what exactly does it help you achieve? What deliverables should you expect? To answer these questions, you need to set clear goals for your UX research and define your product’s mission. To get the maximum value from UX research, you need to ask the right questions and formulate your scope of work. Simply speaking, ask yourself what problem you’re trying to solve and why. Your goals will differ depending on your project and your needs. For example, if you’re designing an app from scratch, you’ll have completely different goals than if you’re redesigning an app. 

Step #3 Choose the right UX research method

Once you know the goals to achieve, you need to decide on research methods that will bring the most useful results. Let’s learn the most workable UX research methods to choose those that are suitable for your project. 

Primary and secondary UX research

Primary research is a very simple and fast way to understand your target users. The goal of this research technique is to validate your design ideas at the early stage of the design process. In short, primary research helps a design team learn who you’re designing for and why. Primary UX research tools include:

  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires 
  • Surveys

Secondary research involves work with books, internet sources, and various studies on your subject. This type of research is used to support your primary research or to validate the design ideas. Let’s look at the table below to understand the difference between these two types of research. 

UX research methods

Quantitative and qualitative UX research methods 

Quantitative methods focus on measurable results. They yield numerical values and answer questions like how many and how often. In other words, the data gathered through quantitative research answers concrete questions. This type of research explains what is happening. 

Qualitative methods focus on impulses that determine a user’s behavior. Qualitative research explains why something is happening. For example, quantitative methods can show you how many users signed up for your website, while qualitative methods can explain why they did so.

User experience research


Generative and evaluative UX research

This classification is usually based on the purpose of the research. 

Generative research collects information about users and their behavior. It’s usually done at the first stage of the research process; however, it can continue at later stages at a smaller scale if a problem needs to be clarified. Generative research helps you define the problem under consideration and the best ways to solve it. 

Evaluative research is performed during the whole design and development lifecycle. It helps you evaluate an existing product and find out if it meets users’ expectations.

UX research methods

Step #4 Data collection and analysis

At this stage, a design team conducts the UX research itself. There are hundreds of methods for gathering data from UX research. Below, we’ll cover the most popular and workable methods to help you collect data wisely. 

User interviews 

During user interviews, a UX researcher asks users questions about the topic of interest. The purpose of these questions depends on what the UX specialist is trying to know. This technique provides useful insights into user preferences, how they feel when using a product, what can be improved, etc. 

Tips on how to prepare precise questions for user interviews: 

1) Avoid closed-ended and binary questions, as they won’t help you get outside the box.

Poor: Does the dark background compromise the app’s usability?

Better: How does the dark background compromise the app’s usability?

2) Avoid questions that contain part of the answer.

Poor: Would you like an extended explanation of your blood results in the form of an infographic?

Better: Was it easy for you to understand your blood results?

Poor: Would you like to pay an extra $15 per month for extended lab results?

Better: How much would you pay for extended lab results?

Ask a few follow-up questions after every general question to get to the root of the problem. Say a user tells you they’ve decided to suspend their subscription to your app. By asking them why you can discover their pain points, gather information about them, and offer a solution. Use five whys after a general question to get insights beyond the surface and get to the root of the issue.

User surveys

Surveys are a great approach to collect data about users or potential users of an app. User surveys generally include questions aimed at understanding users’ preferences and behaviors. Usually, a user survey is given to a sample audience that represents the whole target audience. These surveys mainly fall into two categories: open and closed. In open surveys, users can answer freely. Closed surveys offer answers to choose from. Closed survey questions can be yes/no or multiple-choice, use a numerical scale, etc.

Usability testing

Usability testing is usually done by designers to see how users interact with the app. In this method, the UX researcher learns how users behave when using a product and what inconsistencies in user experience they face. If the UX specialist finds an issue that several people encounter, they provide the list of recommendations on how to solve it. 

Card sorting

Card sorting is a popular research technique that shows how data is structured in the user’s mind. After doing card sorting, a design team can better understand how to structure an app properly. Card sorting can be of two categories: open and closed. In open card sorting, users choose in what groups they categorize the cards. 

Card sorting

In closed card sorting, participants need to sort cards into groups that researchers established beforehand. 

Closed card sorting

This technique is an incredibly cheap and simple way for businesses to understand how their target audience thinks. 

Step #5 Share your findings

Thoroughly document every stage of UX research, as it will help you communicate your findings to key stakeholders. Use brief email summaries, presentations, notes in Google Docs — whatever method you choose. Just remember that the more convincingly you deliver results, the easier you’ll be able to sell the idea to your team.

Step #6 Continue to research the user experience

UX research never stops. Your users will change over time, so it’s vital to make sure the data you rely on in your design development process is relevant. Stay in touch with your customers and make UX research a natural part of your design development strategy.

Final thoughts

As you can see, choosing the right UX research method will give you a solid base for product design development. Our team prefers a research-driven approach from an early stage to create maximum value for our clients. Сontact us to discuss setting up a UX research process for your project. 

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