11 UX Research Deliverable: Types, Best Practices & Examples
The UX design process is all about creating a great experience for real users. Part of that process is conducting UX research. The user research phase helps you gain an idea of what users are looking for and what should be part of the UX you design. The way a user interacts with your app, site, or product defines what they need from it. Your job as the UX researcher or designer is to make sure the design fulfills their needs.
HubSpot's UX research-based site redesign nearly doubled the conversion rate, a site that already received over 10 million visitors every month. The financial impact of this redesign is a marker of the importance of UX research. It is also the UX designer's job to make sure the research, its results, and its components are communicated effectively to stakeholders.
Understanding UX Research Deliverables
In the simplest words, UX research deliverables offer a record of the research findings. The deliverables also include details of the research process and act as a record of the research work. Here’s a UX research deliverables lesson to help you understand the concept better.
The purpose of deliverables is simple: you conduct research, and now you need to communicate it to various stakeholders. These can be members of the design team, company executives, or, in some cases, even investors. As UX research reports, they are a visual representation of the research method and its applications.
Benefits of using UX deliverables
There are multiple benefits of using UX deliverables in the research and development process. For one, it creates a more consistent UX design workflow. This can then be used to work on the design and improve it where it's needed.
No design process is ever perfect right off the bat. UX deliverables place a quality check on the research and design. This is where you can determine what might be going right- or wrong- with the design. Something might work at your end, but a user may not hold the same value. Deliverables help you understand either perspective of the design as it is created.
Finally, using deliverables helps you gain insights from external clients. Your vision can get a little clouded, and the input of someone who is not directly connected to the design can come in handy. They can help you see factors that you may have missed out on, that can help you improve your design, or introduce something unique to it.
“If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful.”
Common Types of UX Research Deliverables
UX professionals use some commonly produced UX deliverables in the research and design process. Their function varies by the purpose for which they are used. However, all of them acts as research tools for researchers to collect data and are beginning to discuss ideas. Some of these common UX deliverables include:
Wireframes are something like a blueprint. Consider the wireframe as the starting point of the design. This is where the layout of the entire design process is set out. Everything from content strategy, user flows, and the intended user behavior is mapped out on wireframes.
Wireframes are the visual design process that defines where each element goes, how it functions, and how it helps target users. Using this layout, stakeholders can provide input on what works in the design, and what doesn't. It will typically include labels, some basic shapes that denote elements, and placeholders to show what goes where.
Creating a wireframe isn't a complicated process, but it does require a number of steps to begin with. These include:
- Conduct user research to develop design insights and user personas, and understand trends in UX
- Map out user flows to understand how your users will be using the finished product
- Begin outlining your wireframe. Start out with a basic version that gives an overview of the entire design without going into too much detail
- Once you've created a basic process, you can create a more detailed wireframe that focuses on specific elements and functions at each stage.
Interactive prototypes can be developed at any stage of development, but they are essential in ensuring your design works. An interactive prototype is something like a model or simulation of the final product or design. It can be highly detailed, otherwise called high-fidelity, or it can be more simplistic.
The wireframe gives you a map of how the product should work. An interactive prototype actually gives you a workable model. It can then be used for usability testing and to ensure your product actually works.
Prototypes can then also be used for user tests. Stakeholders and user test groups can try the prototype and give feedback on its functionality. This kind of feedback is what helps UX designers improve the final product so that it meets user needs.
Interactive prototypes come into the picture for any design where the user interacts with it as part of its core functionality. Once you've created your design, you can develop a virtual model of your product using imaging software. You can then create a proof-of-concept that contains the basic moving parts of the final product. You can then use this to create your prototype.
The purpose of the prototype is to help you determine if your design is working. Therefore, it should undergo demonstrations and testing to discover weak points that need to be worked on. As Elon Musk once said:
"Any product that needs a manual is broken."
3. Site maps
Site maps will typically be used if your design project is a website. It acts like a blueprint that shows how the site is organized. They are a visual diagram that defines the layout of the entire site. The content of the site is laid out, in a hierarchical diagram, to show what items, elements, and pages go where.
They are largely used to structure site navigation. A site map lays out how various pages link with each other, and they help structure the usability of the site. How pages are organized and linked, and how various elements are displayed on each page must make sense to the end user.
When testing out a site map, designers must check if the key elements of the site are well organized. It's an important step in information architecture to make sure your site works. Developing a site map should be a structured process, which should include:
- Consider and organize all the content categories you need to include on your site
- Place your content in a hierarchy based on how each category links to each other
- Add further content under each category to create a high-fidelity site map
- Create a page layout that shows where the content goes
You can add more detail to the site map if you wish, but the basic skeleton should clearly link each element in an understandable way.
UX design is all about the end user. As such, every step in the design process should consider user satisfaction as its end goal. Your user research should have helped you discover the various types of users who might engage with your product. The persona you develop is something like a fictional character based on these user types.
Generating personas helps designers understand the goals, experiences, and needs of users. Developing a persona is about establishing a connection with the target audience. Personas should always be research-based, regarding observed emergent user behaviors, and self-reported user needs. They should never be based on assumptions of what users might want or how they might use your product.
Personas help map out the user journey to improve product design. Developing and using personas involves:
- Doing research into user's actions and categorizing users based on similar behaviors or needs
- Determine personas from the qualities of each group of users
- For each persona, define the user's needs, attitudes, beliefs, lifestyle and behaviors
- Develop scenarios in which each persona was to use your product, and reach conclusions about their interaction
- Make design adjustments based on areas where user personas are unable to find the design or product helpful
5. User flows
Mapping the user journey is the main goal you try to achieve with a user flow. In the simplest words, visualized user flow makes it easy to follow the steps a user would take to achieve a specific goal with your product. From the moment of the first interaction to the achievement of the final goal- which could be clicking the Call to Action (CTA) button on your site- a user flow diagram shows it all.
Defining user flow comes automatically as the next step after developing user personas. The user flow diagram considers only elements of the product, and how many steps it takes for the user to reach the goal. This helps the development team determine where efficiency is lacking, and how it can be improved.
Creating a user flow helps build an understanding of user behaviors and interactions. It defines the user experience with your product and is often dynamic as user feedback and attitudes change.
Developing user flows typically involves:
- Developing user personas that can feature in the flow diagram
- Create a user goal and define the interaction, that is, each step the user will take to achieve that goal
- Review user interactions, and remove unnecessary steps that lengthen the flow without adding value.
6. Usability reports
“Design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.”
Whatever kind of design you have in the earlier stages of development, you must test it out. A usability test can involve using personas and user flows to determine how efficient your design is. You can also test out prototypes with users in a lab, and observe their behavior, including how much time it takes them to complete tasks or how many mistakes they make. You can even conduct A/B testing if you offer alternative design implementations, and have users try out all designs.
The findings of such experiments are summarized in a usability report. A complete usability report typically contains a number of sections including:
- A summary of the experiment setup, including the tools that were used, who the experiment was conducted on, and who conducted it
- An explanation of the method that was used, which explains the entire experiment process, including various scenarios used and the data collection technique
- Results of the research findings, which may be illustrated with graphs and charts
- Recommendations of changes to the design (or otherwise) based on your findings
A usability test report can be intended for various stakeholders. For example, other designers may want in-depth usage analytics reports, whereas a manager may simply want a summarized version of the usability testing reports. Your usability report should be developed based on your audience.
Storyboards take user flows one step further. A storyboard creates a customer journey map that not only considers user actions but also their environment. It is an attempt in understanding user behaviors, but not simply in the context of the actions they take when interacting with your product. Instead, it also considers how a user's environment may influence the way they use your product.
Creating a visual customer journey map helps UX designers understand the real experiences of their users. They are typically created much like a comic strip, with drawings and illustrations. Most importantly, a storyboard needs to convey the story behind a user interaction with your product. The emotion it produces for the user, for example, can affect the design thinking process and ultimately change the way the product is developed.
8. Use cases and scenarios
Use cases are similar to a user flow, but they lack the visual design element. UX designers use such use cases to define, in a written form, how a user interacts with your product. Use cases outline the goal of the user, and then list the steps the user takes on the product, be it a website or an app until that goal is reached.
Scenarios define the various situations in which a user may interact with your product, and how this interaction may change in each scenario. With the scenario, the use case also changes. To simplify things, a use case can define the goal of the user, and the scenario sets out how this goal is achieved.
Use cases and scenarios are important to understand how user behaviors change in different situations. With these use cases in mind, it is possible to test out if your product caters to all these changing needs and scenarios. If not, it is time to go back to the drawing board and make some changes to the design.
9. Content audit/content inventory
This UX deliverable relates to the content of your product. A content inventory simply lists all the content that features on your site or app. A content audit, on the other hand, is the evaluation and analysis of the digital product. It's an analytics tool that evaluates the content on each page for the role it plays in the user experience.
The content audit can highlight the usefulness and help you create a content strategy. It can also help you spot overused, outdated, or duplicated content. In essence, it helps you determine if your content goes with the overall design, aids the user experience, and conveys the brand's unique identity. Once a content inventory has been made, a content audit can be sued to ensure that the content is:
- Relevant and accurate
- Speaks the brand's voice
- Can ensure user exposure and engagement
- Can encourage users to take the next step
10. Competitive analysis
One of the best ways to know where your design stands in the market is by comparing it with your competitors. A competitive analysis report lists the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Specifically, it involves analyzing your competitor's products and detailing the features and opportunities they provide to users, compared to your own.
This helps you weed out potential areas of improvement If you can use the competitive analysis report to find new opportunities, you can innovate your product with unique features that your competitors aren't yet providing. You can build a report with the following steps:
- Choose your competitors, ideally both direct ad indirect ones
- Create a rating system on which to score your competitors and your own product
- Set up the criteria on which to measure your competitors
- Score your competitors and your product and list out your data in a spreadsheet
- Create a complete report of your findings and conclusion, complete with graphs and charts to illustrate the data you collected
11. Task analysis
Task analysis is part of the user research and experiment process. Once you've understood what a user's goal is when they use your product, task analysis can help you understand how users perform and complete those tasks. the goal of this analysis is to determine how your product should be designed that would help users achieve their goals.
You can conduct task analysis by breaking down the actions performed in achieving a goal. Users can then be observed performing each task. YOu should then note down how difficult or simple each task was for them, and what internal or external factors influenced their ability to perform each task. This kind of analysis helps you understand user behaviors, and determine what the simplest task flow would be to help users achieve their goals with your product.
Planning and Preparing Deliverables
As UX designer, the deliverables you choose depend on a number of factors, such as your research and design goals. Simply jumping into it and developing every deliverable you can think of is not helpful to anyone. The deliverables that don't serve any purpose to your goals also end up being a waste time of and resources.
Before you begin, understand your research goals and choose a deliverable accordingly. For example, if you are creating a highly interactive site, and need to know if how users respond to it, you can develop personas and conduct usability testing. A site map, on the other hand, doesn't really align with this goal.
Your next step is to gather data and create a deliverable. This means conducting testing and experiments to produce your usability reports. This should be a collaborative effort, and your team of designers should be involved, as well as any other stakeholder.s. They can help yo uplan out the process, and see factors you missed, so that your deliverables are effective in informing the design process.
Best Practices for Creating Effective Deliverables
Creating effective deliverables is important to create an effective design. Some best practices you should follow with any deliverable include:
- Define your deliverable, its purpose, and the goal it fulfills clearly
- Involve other stakeholders and especially team members in to process to gain insights
- Keep your data organized and deliver it with helpful and visually appealing charts and diagrams
- Make sure your findings are presented in a simple, easy-to-understand, and effective way. Remove unnecessary information and, where needed, focus on the important points.
UX deliverables are key tools in helping UX professionals create effective designs. The UX design process relies on various deliverables to ensure it is effective and useful for the customer. They also help create design solutions that can boost traffic and engagement to a site. While you can use a number of deliverables, they should always align with your research goals Presenting your findings in an understandable and attractive way is also important so that they can be implemented effectively in the product design.
You can learn more about deliverables and the UX research process through other chapters in our guide. They are designed to give you a complete overview of UX research in simple detail.