23 UX research methods you should use in 2024

19 min read
April 29, 2024

Every successful product has a great user experience (UX).

And UX research is key to making that happen – and you should do it, too.

But, you first need to know how to do it and which research methods to use.

We’ve got you covered – we’ll discuss the top 23 UX research methods you should use in 2024 to build a great product.

Let’s dive in!

What is UX research and why should you do it?

UX research is the systematic study of users and their needs, with the goal of adding real-world insights into your design process.

So, why is it so important and why should you do it?

With UX research, you’ll understand not just what your users want but why they need it and how they actually use your product.

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It helps you build a product that actually meets their needs and that can succeed in the market.

And there’s another major reason why you should do it – it’s worth the money.

For every $1 you invest in UX, you get $100 in return – that’s an ROI of 9,900%!


Dedicating resources to UX research will help you build a product that truly meets the needs of your target audience and stands out from the crowd.

And that’s the best way to succeed in a competitive market.

3 types of UX research methods

So, we’ve established that investing in UX research is crucial – but, which types of UX research methods are out there?

There are 3 main ways you can classify UX research methods:

  • Attitudinal vs. behavioral
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative
  • Formative vs. summative

Attitudinal methods focus on what users say about your product, while behavioral methods examine how they actually use your product.

In other words, attitudinal methods will help you understand the “why” behind user preferences while behavioral methods help you understand how users really interact with your product.

Next, you have the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods – qualitative methods give you non-numerical data while quantitative methods give you numerical data.

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Qualitative methods will show you how your users feel about their experience using your product and quantitative methods measure specific metrics.

Finally, you have formative and summative research methods.

Formative methods are done before you launch your product and make sure it meets users’ needs.

Summative methods, on the other hand, are done after launch or an update to measure how successful it is.

So, let’s compare the different UX research methods you should use.

UX research methods – a comparison

Research method


When/why to use it


Concept testing

Testing potential products and features before they’re fully developed

Early in the design phase to validate ideas

Qualitative, attitudinal, formative

Five-second test

Measuring users’ first impressions of your product

To evaluate the clarity and impact of your design

Quantitative, behavioral, formative

Focus group

Guided discussion with a group (4-8) of users

When exploring new concepts and ideas

Qualitative, atittudinal, formative

Ethnographic study

Observing users in their natural environment

To understand real-world user behaviors

Qualitative, behavioral, formative

Tree testing

Evaluating the findability of topics/menus in your product

To test your product’s navigational structure

Quantitative, behavioral, formative

A/B testing

Comparing 2 versions of a page to see which performs better

In order to make optimization decisions based on data

Quantitative, behavioral, summative

Clickstream analytics

Analyzing the path users take when using your product

To understand user navigation and improve user flow

Quantitative, behavioral, summative

Unmoderated usability testing

Users complete tasks on their own to find usability issues

When you need quick and diverse user feedback

Qualitative and quantitative, behavioral, formative


Study where and how long users look at different parts of the UI

To understand users’ visual attention and improve layout/information hierarchy

Quantitative, behavioral, formative

First click test

Tracking where users first click when given a task

To test navigation and findability within your product

Quantitative, behavioral, formative

Usability benchmarkin-g

Comparing the usability of your product compared to industry standards or previous versions

Regularly through your product’s lifecycle

Quantitative, behavioral, summative

Card sorting

Users place individually labeled cards into groups that make sense to them

When designing and refining your information architecture

Qualitative, attitudinal, formative

Quantitative usability testing

Setting specific tasks for users and measuring performance with quantitative data

To objectively evaluate your product’s usability

Quantitative, behavioral, summative

User interview

Structured or semi-structured interviews focused on users’ experience and needs

Throughout the design process

Qualitative, attitudinal, formative

Field study

Observing and interacting with users in their natural environment

To get detailed, context-specific insights

Qualitative, behavioral, formative

Retrospective think-aloud protocol

After users complete a task, you replay their actions and ask them about their thought process

When you want to understand users’ thought processes when using your product

Qualitative, attitudinal, summative

Wizard of Oz

Users interacting with a product they think is fully functional, but it’s in fact controlled by the researcher

Early in development to test concepts without fully building your product

Qualitative, behavioral, formative

Multivariate test

Similar to A/B testing, but tests combinations of variables

When optimizing complex pages or user interactions

Quantitative, behavioral, summative

Participatory design

Involving users directly in the design process to ensure your design meets their needs

Early in the design process

Qualitative, attitudinal, formative


Quickly collecting a large amount of data from a broad audience

When you need broad qualitative and quantitative insights at scale

Qualitative and quantitative, attitudinal, summative

Diary study

Users record their experiences and interactions so you can study long-term usage patterns

To understand how users’ experiences change over time

Qualitative, attitudinal, summative

Paper prototyping

Creating and testing design ideas on paper to quickly test and validate design ideas

Very early in the design process to quickly iterate design concepts

Qualitative, behavioral, formative

Task analysis

Breaking down individual tasks into their components to understand user behavior

To deeply understand and improve complex tasks in your product

Qualitative, behavioral, formative

Top 23 UX research methods

Here, we’ll cover each UX research method in more detail.

Concept testing

Concept testing is the process of testing potential products and features with users before committing to full development.

Here, you present the concept using visuals or prototypes – the point of concept testing is to see if your users can understand and easily use your product.

And here are a few other benefits of concept testing:

Why is concept testing important

You should do concept testing early on in the design process to validate your idea and assumptions about how users will use your product.

Doing this will help you build a product that truly meets their needs.

And that’s the secret to a successful product.

Five-second test

First impressions matter – and 94% of users’ first impressions are design-related.

And that’s where the five-second test comes in.

As the name suggests, It’s really simple – you show your users a design for 5 seconds and measure their first impressions.

You ask them what they remember the most about the design and how it made them feel about your product.

It’s a great way to quickly validate your product’s design and visual language and find areas for improvement.

Focus group

A focus group is a guided discussion with a group of users (usually 4-8) from your target audience.

Target market vs target audience vs target personas

It’s a moderated discussion and you use a set of prepared questions to lead the conversation.

You should use focus groups when you’re exploring new ideas or features for your product – the diverse perspectives you get will help you cover all your bases.

The qualitative data you collect will help you build a product that’s tailor-made for your target audience.

And that’s key for success in any market.

Ethnographic study

An ethnographic study is when you observe how users interact with your product in their natural environment.

This means that you go into the field and see how users actually use your product outside of a controlled environment.

These observations and interviews with the participants will show you if they have any unexpected challenges or issues when using your product in their day-to-day lives.

Ethnographic studies are a great option when you’re designing a product for a new market or a diverse user base. 

Tree testing

Tree testing is a UX research method that evaluates the findability of certain topics in a website or a product.

Users are tasked with finding items based solely on your product’s hierarchical structure.

This will help you improve the usability of your product i.e. make it more user-friendly and easy to use.

Here’s how it works:

Tree testing process

You should do it before commiting to a final design layout to make sure your product’s architecture is logical and easy to understand.

And this will significantly improve your product’s UX.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a quantitative UX research method where you compare 2 different versions of a web page or UI by randomly serving them to users.

And you can test almost anything, from a layout change to button color.

The goal of A/B testing is to find out which version performs better on specific performance metrics.

A/B testing

Some of the metrics you should track are:

  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Time on page

A/B testing is a great choice when you want to make data-driven decisions about small changes that might have a huge impact on your users’ behavior.

Clickstream analytics

Clickstream analytics analyze the path users take when using your product.

It will help you understand:

  • How they navigate
  • What pages they visit
  • How long they stay on each page
  • Where they drop off

To do it, you first need tracking software like Google Analytics to gather data on every click made by users.

Then, you analyze the most common paths they take to identify patterns – both successful user journeys and points where they struggle and drop off.

This will help you improve your product’s user flow and overall usability.

Unmoderated usability testing

Unmoderated usability testing means doing usability tests in your users’ natural environment without direct supervision.

With it, you get insights into how real users interact with your product and it will help you find any usability issues you might miss during moderated usability testing.

Here’s a breakdown of how you should approach it:

Unmoderated usability testing checklist

You need to provide your users with a set of tasks and questions and then record their interactions.

What’s key is that they complete the tasks at their own pace, just like they would when actually using your product.

Then, you remotely collect the feedback and analyze it to find and iron out any usability issues they encounter.


Eyetracking is a UX research method that studies where and for how long users look at different parts of your product’s UI.

This shows you exactly which parts of it draw their attention and which elements they ignore.

Here’s an overview of how it works:

UX research eyetracking

The point of eyetracking is to find out where users spend the most time and which areas they overlook (and why) – this way, you’ll know what you need to improve.

It’s especially useful if your product has a detailed and complex UI.

That’s because where users focus their attention will affect your content placement and design choices.

And you need to nail that if you want to give them a great experience.

First click test

The first click test is a UX research method that measures how intuitive and navigable your product’s UI is by tracking where users first click when given a task.

Here, you test common tasks they’re likely to perform in your product, like finding a particular menu.

Then, you measure how often their first click leads to them successfully completing a task.

It’s a good way to evaluate your product’s layout and navigation and you should use it after making changes to your UI or when you launch new features.

And it will help you ensure users can find what they need quickly and efficiently, which is key for a good experience.

Usability benchmarking

Usability benchmarking is when you compare your product’s usability against established industry standards or a previous iteration.

Here, you quantify UX attributes like efficiency, user satisfaction, and error rates to get a clear idea of your product’s performance over a period of time.

So, how do you do it?

First, you need to choose the usability metrics you want to track, like:

  • Error rate
  • User satisfaction scores
  • Time to complete tasks

Then, you need to do regular usability tests to collect data points you can compare to industry standards or historical performance data.

Usability benchmarking is especially important after major redesigns or updates – it shows you the impact of the changes and helps you maintain quality standards.

Card sorting

Card sorting is a research method you can use to help design and assess your product’s information architecture.

During card sorting, participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them – this will show you how your users think and what they expect from your product’s content structure.

So, how exactly does it work?

To start, you prepare cards with each representing a different feature or piece of content.

Then, you ask the participants to sort them into groups that seem logical to them.

Here’s an example:

Card sorting example

Finally, you analyze how they group and label these categories and find the most common pattern – this will improve your product’s information structure.

It’s particularly useful early on in the design process and will help you ensure your product is easy to understand and use.

Quantitative usability testing

Quantitative usability testing focuses on measuring different aspects of your product’s UX with numerical data from specific metrics.

Some of the metrics you should track are:

  • Completion time
  • Error rates
  • Task success rates

This data will help you objectively evaluate your product’s performance and will help you find any usability issues it might have.

It’s a key research method you should do before a product launch or after major changes and it will give you concrete evidence to support UX improvements.

User interview

User interviews are one of the best ways to get in-depth qualitative data and feedback from your users.

You’ll get detailed insights and opinions you can’t get through other research methods.

So, what’s the secret to a successful user interview?

The key to a successful user interviews is preparing open-ended questions and doing one-on-one interviews with each individual user.

This way, they’ll be able to talk at length about their experience and feelings when using your product.

User interviews are most effective early on, during product discovery, so you understand what users expect from your product.

But, they’re still valuable at every stage of your product’s lifecycle (especially after releasing new features) and you should do them on a regular basis.

Field study

Field studies involve observing how users interact and use your product in their natural environment.

This will give you an idea of how your product fits in with their daily lives and routines.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of field studies you can do:

Types of field studies

Field studies are key if you’re building a product that’s mostly used in a specific environment or if the context of use affects its UX.

You’ll get insights and data you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get in a controlled environment.

And that will help you build a product that will actually meet your users’ needs.

Retrospective think-aloud protocol

The retrospective think-aloud protocol is a method that involves users explaining and talking about their actions after completing a task.

This way, you’ll find out about their thinking and decision-making without interrupting them while they’re doing the tasks.

So, after they’ve completed the tasks, you ask them to review recordings of their session and explain what they were thinking at each step.

This will give you an idea of their thought process and decision-making and help you find any usability issues.

It’s particularly valuable if your product has a complex interface and if your users’ cognitive processes are key to a successful design.

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz method involves making users believe they’re interacting with a working product while it’s in fact controlled manually by an unseen person.

It’s a good way to test and prototype features you haven’t fully developed yet.

UX research Wizard of Oz method

So, a user interacts with your product’s interface just as they would with a fully working product, but the responses are manually provided by the “wizard” controlling the interface.

This allows you to test hypotheses and validate assumptions without spending time and money actually building the features.

It’s most beneficial in the early stages of product development, when you want to quickly test and refine ideas without committing to full development. 

Multivariate test

Multivariate testing is a UX research method that tests multiple variables simultaneously to see how they affect user behavior.

It’s similar to A/B testing, except with multiple different versions of a page or screen instead of just 2.

Multivariate testing

And you should track the same metrics as in A/B testing, such as:

  • Time on page
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate

Testing multiple variations is especially useful if you want to optimize several elements at the same time and want to see how well different elements work together.

Participatory design

Participatory design is a UX research approach where you directly involve users in the design process.

This will help you get a deep understanding of their needs and get buy-in from your target audience from the start.

The most effective way to do participatory design is setting up workshops where your users will work together and sketch out with your product designers.

You should do it at the earliest stages of the design process to ensure your product meets your users’ needs before you even start building it.

It’s one of the best ways to ensure you’ll get a product-market fit.


Surveys are a very valuable tool for getting feedback from a lot of users at scale.

And the best part?

They’re a very versatile method and you can get both quantitative and qualitative data, you just need to use both open-ended and closed-ended questions.

Here’s just a few types of UX research surveys you can use:

Types of UX surveys

And they’re very easy to set up, too, as there are plenty of survey tools on the market, like:

Just make sure you distribute your surveys through channels your users actually use to get a good response rate.

Diary study

Diary studies are a long-term UX research method where your users record their experiences and interactions with your product over a period of time.

Using them helps you get insights into their long-term usage patterns and behaviors that you can’t get with other methods.

And they’re simple to set up.

First, you need to give the participants a diary to record their interactions, thoughts, and feelings – the diary can be in various formats, like:

Types of diary for diary studies

Then, you need to give participants clear instructions on what to record, like:

  • Usage context
  • Satisfaction levels
  • Issues they encounter

Finally, once enough time has passed, you collect the diaries and analyze them to find patterns and insights about how they used your product.

This will help you understand how their experience evolved over time and what you need to do to improve your product’s UX.

Paper prototyping

Paper prototyping is a low-fidelity UX research method that lets you quickly and cheaply test design ideas.

As the name suggests, you roughly sketch different UI screens and layouts on paper.

Paper prototyping

Then, you present that to users who “interact” with the prototype and then leave feedback.

It’s a great way to test ideas without spending time and resources on building them.

And it’s especially useful early on in the design process when you want to rapidly iterate and test a number of different ideas.

Task analysis

Task analysis is a UX research method that breaks down a user’s activities into smaller steps so you can better understand how they complete tasks and where they have issues.

To do it, you identify tasks users do when using your product and break each task down into detailed steps.

Then, you watch how users perform these tasks and try to find struggles they have or inefficiencies you can improve.

Task analysis is key if you’re optimizing complex processes in your product and can help you improve your product’s user flow and overall UX.

It’s also a good way to identify features and functionalities you might be missing.

UX research methods: FAQs

What are the types of UX research?

The 3 main types of UX research are:

  • Attitudinal vs. behavioral
  • Quantitative vs. qualitative
  • Formative vs. summative

How to choose the right UX research method?

The methods you end up using depend on your research goals, the stage of your UX design process, who your users are, and the resources you have available.

What are the top UX research methods?

The top UX research methods you should use are:

  • User interviews
  • Surveys
  • A/B testing
  • Quantitative usability testing
  • Diary study

Need help with UX research?

Do you have a great product idea but you’re not sure where to start?

You’re in the right place.

We can help you set up workshops and we’ll use modern UX research methods to validate your idea, making sure it meets your users’ needs.

If you want to learn more, check out our product discovery process and feel free to get in touch with us for more information.

Written by

Ivan Kardum

Lead product manager

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