UX Research Categories and Methods

Daniel AlShriky
6 min readApr 10, 2018


by Daniel Alshriky

UX Research Categories and methods

Major Categorizations of UX Research methods

01- Quantitative and Qualitative

Quantitative research is based on numeric information and statistics.

We can’t build quantitative research based on feelings and opinions. Researchers run quantitative research by collecting huge information that will help to analyze and build statistics related to the target users.

Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.
W. Edwards Deming

Sample: A/B testing, Cards sorting, Percentage of complaints, Surveys, Click tests and Eye tracking.

Qualitative research help to express emotional responses or impressions. Researchers run qualitative research by answering why certain behavior is happening.

Sample: Interviews, and Desirability studies

02- Behavioral and Attitudinal

We can summed up, understand the contrast between “what people say” and “what people do”

Behavioral research methods studies the users’ actions.
Sample: Ethnographic studies, Usability testing, A/B testing, and eye tracking

Attitudinal research methods cares about what users are saying,
opinions and declared beliefs. Sample: Surveys and interview

03- Moderated and Unmoderated

Moderated research methods: Researchers run by directly connecting with users that will help to discover the users’ habits and behaviors.

Sample: Usability tests and Interviews.

Unmoderated research methods: where users complete the task(s) without a facilitator present.

04- Generative and Evaluative

Generative research methods: Researchers run this kind of methods to understand the problem and collect the information help to solve product or services problem. Researcher run this kinds of method on early stages of the projects.

Sample: Card sorting, Interviews, prototyping, and Personas.

Evaluative research methods: Researchers run this kind of methods to test and validate the solutions. Researcher run this kinds of method later stage of a project.

Sample: Desirability testing, A/B testing, Usability testing and eye tracking.

UX Research methods

User Personas

Personas are imaginary, fictional characters, yet realistic and detailed descriptions of the users of products, applications and services.

We can determine the benefits of personas by the following list:
Establish empathy about users.
Give all the team common language about the users who
design and develop for it.
Help to improve the consistency of interface behaviors.

Research and workshop to define personas
Researcher have to run many methods and workshops to determine personas.

Start with a assumptions (we call it proto-personas in this stage).

Examples of methods and workshop: Listen to users through call centers, conduct depth interviews (study the users within natural environment), ethnographic research.

Usability testing

The most well-known usability testing for researchers would be either moderated or unmoderated. We run by asking the participants to perform a certain task(s), it’s very important to prepare the tasks list based on the research target.

You could run the testing by using live product or prototype (Lo-Fi or Hi-Fi).

Tools and application to help run usability testing:


Researchers run interview to explore people’s attitudes and beliefs.

Often researchers conduct interview method at the beginning of the project to determine the target users. It is important to build a solid persona.

We run interview by direct dialogue through asking questions, so we have to prepare and understand how to ask the right questions to right participants as advised by experts.

Card Sorts

Is a quantitative method to help create categorization and hierarchy to establish information architecture. There are two type of card sorts: open and close.

Open card sorts: perform by asking the participants to categorize elements into whatever groupings they think make sense and then give name for each group.

Close card sorts: perform by asking the participants to place elements into existing structure.

We validate card sorts by performing tree test, that is by asking participants to find the element use in the existing navigation.


Eye tracking, click testing and scroll behavior

Is a quantitative research method. We run by user equipment to captures and analyzes where a person is looking. There’s also a technology that can capture and analyze the clicking and scrolling behaviors. This is useful for live websites, software, or applications,

Note: Eye tracking and click testing won’t be able to determine as to us why users are behaving in this way, so no clarity about their motivations.

Tools and application that helps to run eye tracking.

I recommend to check learn & support section from tobiipro.com, there many training courses and useful docs to learn from.

Example of Eye tracking technology

A/B testing

We run A/B testing research method by creating many versions of something (screens, services, processes etc) and compare which one is better and fit to the users.

Tools and application to help run A/B testing

Desirability Studies

Is a qualitative research method that allows you to ensure if the visuals design matches with brand goals and monitor the desirable response for users.

Researchers run by showing the participants many visual designs and ask them to describe by words those words we give to the participants. The list of words we give to them is based on the words that best describe your brand goals.

Heuristic Analysis (Experts reviews)

We run heuristic analysis by several UX professionals to ensure the products, applications or services match with users’ expectations and industry’s best practices.

To start, researchers uses the 10 usability heuristics for user interface design developed by Jacob Nielson.

01- Visibility of system status
02- Match between system and the real world
03- User control and freedom
04- Consistency and standards
05- Error prevention
06- Recognition rather than recall
07- Flexibility and efficiency of use
08- Aesthetic and minimalist design
09- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
10- Help and documentation

We use radar chart to represent the indicators of heuristic analysis.

Diary studies

Is a qualitative research. Researchers run the diary study by asking the participants to record their behaviors or actions for specific task(s) over the time.

We have to give participants set of task(s), question and/or guidelines that they should follow when they record. We called it a “structured diary study”.

Tools: pens and paper, email, Evernote

UX Mapping (Alignment Diagrams)

Ways to explain the interaction between users and product, application or services in constructive and/or visual ways. That will help researcher to present ideas to business and stakeholders in short time and show the pain points.

There 5 types of UX mapping
Service Blueprints, Customer Journey Maps, Experience Maps, Mental Model Diagrams and Spatial Maps.

For short review, please watch video from Nielsen Norman Group NN/g.

For more details read Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams



Researching UX: Analytics: Understanding Is the Heart of Great UX (Aspects of Ux)

Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams

Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights Kindle Edition




Daniel AlShriky

UX / UI Leader | Researcher | Extended Reality (XR) designer