How to run user research for a diverse set of users

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Mahika Naidoo UX Designer
26 Feb 2024

User research involves gathering insights from potential users to understand their needs and behaviours. This is important for effective product development and design decisions. Inclusivity considers everyone's background and capability, while diversity encompasses a range of opinions and behaviours. Recruiting with diversity in mind ensures gathering information reflecting diverse needs and perspectives, leading to a product engaging a broader audience. Let's look at key considerations for designing a research study.

Understanding your users

It's essential to have a clear understanding of your target audience when recruiting participants for user research. While standard demographics are valuable, recognising the diversity within these profiles is equally important. Factors like cultural and religious backgrounds, gender, accessibility needs, and varying perspectives should be taken into account to ensure a comprehensive participant pool. Personas can be an effective way to understand your users at a glance. Reflecting on your personas can also challenge how you see your users, if the information portraying them is accurate and if they’re edging into stereotypes!

Recruiting participants

Recruiting participants that represent your target audience is important for effective user research but within that audience ensuring diverse perspectives is key to designing with all your users in mind. Third party recruitment agencies can be effective in recruiting a diverse participant pool as you can specifically communicate accessibility and diversity criteria to make sure your sample set is representative. Using an agency can mitigate against selection bias as it’s tempting to recruit those most likely to participate or ask a coworker, friend or family member. Conducting user research with participants you have a pre-existing relationship with can lead to inaccurate information and therefore design decisions.

Running research studies

Guarding against biases is key to ensuring the integrity of research findings. Addressing researcher, participant, and methodological biases is essential.

Creating inclusive research materials using plain language and alternative formats is important for accommodating accessibility needs, language needs, and cultural understanding. This is crucial for participant engagement and can determine the success of study outcomes.

When conducting a study, researchers need to be aware of personal biases. For example, confirmation bias occurs when a researcher gives more emphasis to information that aligns with their perspective or beliefs. Equally important is participant bias, where the participant acts differently when being observed. Both types of bias can negatively impact diversity in research, as they alter information and behaviour, which does not truly reflect participants actions or beliefs. Employing skilled researchers within studies can mitigate such biases, as they are trained to identify and avoid these errors.

Business benefits

Researching with diversity and inclusivity in mind offers several benefits for businesses:

  • Enhanced product relevance: Products and services are developed based on accurate insights into user needs, resulting in solutions that resonate with customers.

  • Increased user satisfaction: Products are more likely to meet user expectations, leading to higher satisfaction rates.

  • Expanded market reach: Identifying opportunities to address additional market segments and capitalise on new opportunities.

  • Reduction in costs: Minimising expensive mistakes as design decisions are grounded in reliable data and insights.

In summary

Diversity and inclusion should be central to user research, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. By prioritising these principles, businesses can create products that resonate with a broad spectrum of users, driving relevance, satisfaction and market reach. With inclusivity and diversity as guiding principles, user research becomes a powerful tool for understanding and meeting the diverse needs of an audience.

How can Fruto help?

Fruto can provide invaluable support in overcoming obstacles during user research and ensuring you obtain a diverse sample set in your study. Our user researchers are skilled in many methods and techniques to uncover user insights that can have actionable outcomes for your product or website. We can guide you through recruitment, running sessions, and analysing results. Get in touch with us if you have any questions about your upcoming study or want to understand how user research can benefit your organisation.

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About the author

Mahika Naidoo

Passionate about using her UX knowledge to create meaningful products, Mahika has digital and product design experience. She holds a BSc in User-Centred Design from Loughborough University where her final project targeted at improving the accuracy and efficiency of medication dispensing within care homes.

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