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How research-based design helps to understand the potential customer

July 23, 2020

How research-based design helps to understand the potential customer

Research is the initial phase of the UX project discovery. It helps to understand the customer persona in order to create visual and graphic design including all the relevant context to meet the needs and goals of the target audience. In this article, we will investigate how exactly the research-based design works and how it helps to understand the user in order to create an efficient customer-centric design.

As of today, there exists a big number of various projects, startups, and companies providing diverse products and services to their users. Although the general idea of any offering has a solid background and proven usability, nowadays it is crucial to make sure that the end-user understands his/her gains and benefits of it to ensure applicability to the actual needs. This is when user experience design (UX) comes as the right solution, as it completely encompasses all features and aspects of how a user interacts with the project’s website and its product or service offering. 

Valuable reflection of the featured information combined with elegance and simplicity are core concepts of UX during the development process. To guarantee a quality user interaction with a website, it is important to merge a number of services and disciplines in user-centered design to help users understand what they can get in an easy, efficient, and pleasant way. That is where engineering, marketing, interface, and visual designs correlate one with another to provide the best conversion outcome. 

As a matter of fact, a well-designed and thought-through UX influences greater returns on investment and higher revenues. Hence, companies that invest in efficient UX later save on target audience acquisition, spend less on system support, and convert more customers resulting in increased market shares. According to the estimates of the research, $1 invested in UX pays $100 back. What’s more, 88% of potential users who aren’t satisfied with UX will probably not return to the website again. As a result of poor UX, 35% of funds invested in e-commerce in 2020, are lost because of bad user experience whereas companies that invest in good design can significantly increase their sales:


In order to design a quality and efficient user experience, it is crucial to approach the design-based research process in a research-based manner.

Research-Based Design: Why and How?

Research-based design is the process of investigation and data analysis during a project discovery phase that helps to understand the target audience, market, and competitive insights to ensure elegant, informative, and simple user interaction with a website.

To conduct a productive discovery, business analysts, UX researchers, and designers investigate the current market state, its potential, and opportunities along with existent problems to offer functional and useful solutions satisfying business and customer needs. Business analysis and research may include the following activities:

Market Research 

This is the first step taken while evaluating the project’s opportunities. A team of professionals starts by deep-diving into a specific domain to analyze industry insights along with its latest market trends. Such information helps to understand whether the product or service is in demand, what’s driving the market, and what the current industry problems are. 

In order to evaluate the market, it is important to approach its state from a point of political, economical, socio-cultural, technological, environmental, and legal aspects. Also referred to as the PESTLE technique, such analysis helps to define key external influences on the project’s activity. As a result, the gathered data helps eliminate possible threats and use promising opportunities. 

User Research

When the market state is analyzed, it is crucial to define the target customer and analyze his/her needs, goals, and behavior. As UX focuses on the efficiency of a friendly user journey, the creation of the customer persona is an integral part of the research. 

To gather information from the community, design researchers commonly conduct:

  • user interviews
  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • switch and generative interviews
  • field studies, etc

Such activities define the customer’s tastes and dislikes, desires, intentions, and common behavior. Analyzed data influences the general visual design of the offering along with its contents. 

To perform productive user research, it is important to concentrate on the “why” and “how” aspects of the behavior. The overall research process can consist of the following stages:

  • Set research objectives. Define the goals of the research. It is important to align what information we are looking for, what problems should be solved, and which opportunities should be discussed with the community.
  • Define the research type. Qualitative research is a good match for the definition of the user’s behavior and its reasoning. In this case, more time is devoted to a smaller group of participants. Quantitative research can be used for numbers and analytics, it will uncover general interest in certain features or problems.
  • Find the participants. At this stage, the UX team defines the user segment (according to the market data). User groups can be chosen depending on a number of aspects:
    • active users
    • users who stopped using the product/service
    • users who signed up but had no activity at all
    • competitive customers
  • Decide on the techniques. Choose what techniques you are going to use. Prepare questionnaires, surveys, and interviews. Decide how you’re going to reach out to the audience and which programs will help the product management. 
  • Conduct the research. This stage isn’t only about the research itself, but also about organization, follow-ups, and data management. When all the information is gathered, it should be analyzed and presented in order to make decisions on how to move forward.

Competitive Analysis

Analysis and research of industry competitors is another significant part of the research-based design. Before handling the design process from scratch, besides market drivers, the competitor landscape should be analyzed. The project’s concept should be compared with those already existing. In terms of this approach, according to Porter’s Five Forces Framework, business analysts and researchers can analyze the external business environment:

  • Potential entrants (the threat of new, potential offerings)
  • Substitutes (threats of other products satisfying the same needs)
  • Buyers (research of the bargaining power of buyers)
  • Suppliers (research of the bargaining power of suppliers)

Porter’s Five Forces for competitive landscape analysis


SWOT is another technique that may be used during competitive internal research. Defined strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats help to craft the best-matching offering to solve any existing market problems. In addition, due to competitive research, it is possible to define the demanded features that are unique and differ from other solutions.

Research Outcomes

Data and statistics of the conducted research provide a clear understanding of the current market, its problems, and the needs of the target audience. 

All aspects influence the solution of the design implementation where the user is always at the center of attention. User research plays a huge role as it defines the concepts of user-centered design. Hence, such research artifacts help to understand the behavior of a future customer:

  • Vision and scope document according to the market state and customer needs
  • User journey mapping
  • User goals and needs statement
  • Customer personas
  • Prototype and wireframe concepts

Technological Stack & Risk Assessment 

As a part of the research-based design, it is also important to investigate the internal project’s capabilities, business model, and resources. Analyzed data should be gathered to understand what would be the optimal technological stack for the solution implementation.

After the initial research, UX professionals analyze and process the data in order to define the overall interaction design within the scope of the project. While project management, the proof of concept as well as preliminary MVP design should be agreed upon and validated in order to go for the UX while reducing any risks or threats within the roadmap and budget. 


It is impossible to build a friendly UX without understanding the users’ preferences and behavior within a concrete market and offering. Interviews, surveys, and focus groups help to understand what exactly a customer expects and what problems he usually faces. Such an approach ensures that the community gets what it desires while eliminating any possible obstacles or complexity. Need help with design services? Don’t hesitate to contact Artkai.

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