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I am working on a school project as my team's UX researcher. Our product has already been designed, prototyped, and launched, without having conducted any research.

The team wants me to create questions on the already existing features and concepts. Isn't this backwards? How can I conduct user research after the product already exists? I have never really worked on a project where UX research was not conducted first, in order to find the users' needs and desires. How should I go about this?

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How can I conduct user research on a product that already exists?

Remember that User Research is a tool for discovering information about actual or potential users. This being said, don't worry if the product already exist it's perfectly normal to still perform a User Research.

Isn't this backwards?

Not really. User Research can be done before or after a product launches. In both cases the goal will be to acquire information from users for a better understanding of them.

How can I conduct user research after the product already exists? // How should I go about this?

There are many ways on how to conduct a User Research. Mainly, information can be qualitative or quantitative. Some of the methods for acquiring information from users can be:

  • Analytics
  • Surverys
  • Tree Jacking
  • Eye Tracking
  • A/B Testing
  • Card Sorting
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Diary Study and more...

Remember that the role of the UX Designer will be to determine which methods will gain the information needed for the project and business goals.

For more about User Research visit:

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You will find that this scenario is quite common in the real world. At this point UX research is not in a “discovery” mindset. E.g. User behaviors, motivations, mindsets. People have already made decisions to create a solution based on “their assumptions” of other users needs. You may not like it, but the role of UX research at this point is more to discover problems and prioritize fixes. It is then up to the team to have the proper mindset to be able to pivot/change based on the findings you will no doubt uncover with UX research. If you have no existing research to start with, you need to start benchmarking. Establish baseline usability studies for the top tasks you have identified. Recommend and prioritize fixes after analyzing your findings from the studies. Continue to iterate over time to see if the product/service has improved based on those fixes. If this is a school project, you probably won’t have much time to do many iterations. At least show one iteration where UX has improved based on your UX research. Hope that helps.

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What I did with a recent project of mine (which was of similar in nature), I prioritized the main features and interviewed users by giving them specific tasks. The idea is to observe them while they complete the given tasks. Based on this, you will be able to pin-point areas which require fixes. The insights might also lead to new features and discarding of some. Good luck!

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There are some analytics tools available, here's a link on google analytics (but there are a dozen similar) https://uxdesign.cc/7-google-analytics-metrics-that-help-in-optimizing-website-ux-for-higher-conversions-7e9309eb6516

In case of a physical product: survey

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