More and more UX/UI design agencies are building their own UX laboratories. But how can this help them to design better products? Should your company invest in a UX lab? Read on to find out about user experience labs.
What A UX Lab Is
A UX laboratory is a separate room for conducting research, primarily regarding usability testing. Therefore, the room should contain at least: a table, a chair, a computer with a webcam, and a program for recording video from the screen.
Furthermore, if necessary, the laboratory can expand by adding more advanced equipment. For example, you can attach an adjacent room to the laboratory and put a one-way mirror between them (Gesell mirror). Then designers, developers, and other members of the product team will be able to come to the laboratory and personally observe how users work with their product. If you have additional funds, you can buy an eye-tracker at the lab. In order to properly test a hypothesis, it is sometimes required that respondents do not see any element on the screen or to study how users view screens in the process of performing a specific task. But this is expensive equipment, and before you buy it you must understand how often you will use it and after how long it will pay off. It may be more profitable to just rent it or order one-time items from third-party companies. Additionally, tracking means a certain research technique. If you use it incorrectly, then the results will be wrong.
Who Works In The UX Lab
A UX specialist, or rather a UX analyst, should work in the laboratory. It seems that there is nothing difficult in going to ask a few questions to users (and call it an “interview”), design a questionnaire, and publish it on the Internet (and call it an “online survey”), come up with tasks for respondents and see how they fulfill them (and call it “usability testing”). But the difficulty lies in the fact that the professional needs to understand several concepts, such as: which method will be the most appropriate for the purpose of the study, what questions need to be asked, who should be asked, how to formulate them, what to look for in the behavior of the respondent and how to draw conclusions. This is why in order to be good at this job one needs to receive an education in the field of psychology or sociology.
The UX analyst should also have a solid understanding of the principles of good design and possess certain skills that are basic for the analyst’s work, such as research planning, the use of various research methods, communication with respondents, and processing of results.
Who Needs A UX Lab And Why?
Having your own usability lab allows the company to design better products. You have a place where you can bring the respondents and calmly conduct research without being distracted by anything. It is true that you can do the same without a separate room as well as book rooms for research. But this is bad practice. If the test or the interview drags on, the employees who booked the same space for the next time interval will start looking into the meeting room. The analyst will be nervous, the respondent will be nervous, and the result will be affected. In addition, the temporary environment does not help the respondents to relax and feel “at home”. Especially if there are glass walls, which are now very fashionable.
If a company is not ready to integrate usability research results into its processes, then a laboratory is not needed. You should only invest in organizing a specific space for research if you are ready to listen to your UX analyst and implement the results of the research into practice.
These are just some of the areas where having a lab will improve the results:
• User segmentation
• Use case development
• Creating information architecture
• User needs analysis
• Building a customer journey map
• Carrying out A / B testing
• Creating a user experience card and sales funnel
• Using analytics tools
• Usability research
If the processes in the company are built correctly, then the laboratory will be needed not only by UX specialists, but also by designers, developers, and everyone associated with the product. In this case, the decisions that the company makes will be based on the results of user research.
Studies conducted in a UX laboratory can have a great impact on the quality of applications and websites. UX analytics provides a fresh look on the product, allowing the team and the business owner to see it the way the customer does. Having your own user experience lab or trusting the research to outsource companies is beneficial for your product but only if you are ready to put the results of the research into practice.