If you have already selected a research method to use during your UX process, here’s another hurdle to overcome. How do you ask better questions when faced with limited time with your users? And how do we identify and control the sources that may get in the way of us delivering the highest-quality research possible? Let’s have a look.
High Level Guidance
Here are some broad tips.
- Gather context: Rather than asking directly (which can prompt users to answer in a particular way), ask open ended questions to determine trends, amounts and patterns.
- Memory is fickle: Start off with a recent or highly memorable experience.
- Begin broadly: Begin with open ended questions and then drill down into clarifying questions as appropriate.
- Avoid the temptation to try and prove a point: Instead, look for ways that your hypothesis may be disproved.
- Get out pre-existing assumptions: List out your existing assumptions as hypotheses to validate and invalidate through observing your users’ behavior.
- Evaluate different sets of data carefully: User behavior through analytics tools can differ from what users request.
Types of Bias
Reducing bias isn’t to make everyone answer or behave the same way, but to make sure that questions are delivered and presented in a way that allows users to reveal their true feelings. This ultimately delivers better and more user-focused research.
- Selection/Sampling: Sampling/selection bias occurs when the participants recruited are chosen in such a way that some members of the intended population are less likely to be included than others.
- Leading questions: While leading questions and wording aren’t types of bias themselves, they lead to bias or are a result of bias. Researchers may sometimes unknowingly put answers into their participants’ mouths to help them move along.
- Confirmation: This takes place in-the-moment as researchers judge and analyze responses that confirm their hypotheses as relevant and reliable, while dismissing evidence that doesn’t support a hypothesis. Researchers might remember points that support their hypothesis and points that disprove other hypotheses.
- Question order: Respondents are primed by the words and ideas presented in questions that impact their thoughts, feelings and attitudes on subsequent questions. Randomize the order of questions to avoid this bias.
To Wrap Up
Humans may naturally look for patterns and trends or seek out and confirm their existing assumptions. Only when we become aware of the biases, like the ones discussed here, can we make better decisions. Remember that though biases may not be avoided, we can still be aware of their presence and conduct UX research thoughtfully.