Unlocking Insights Beyond Words

In his latest blog, Anthony Shephard-Williams (director) explores how the Mustard team has fully embraced observational UX research.

Over the last few years there has been a UX (User Experience) boom in the market research industry, as companies increasingly recognise that understanding their users’ needs and preferences is crucial to creating successful products and services.

As a result, many market research companies are incorporating UX research into their offer and it’s no different here at Mustard.

In the world of market research, understanding the user experience (UX) is paramount. It’s not just about what users say; it’s equally—if not more—about what they do and also how and why they do it. This is where observational UX research comes in, offering a window into user behaviour that verbal feedback alone can’t provide.

What is Observational UX Research?

Observational UX research involves watching users as they interact with an app, webpage or online products and services. This technique can be done in-person or remotely and can include a range of methods, such as shadowing, video recording, or screen capture. We’ve got various tools in our kit to assist in UX research.

The goal of observational UX research is to observe and understand user behaviour, pain points, and what needs fixing to improve the user experience.

How have we used it?

  • Recently, we have conducted multiple projects to help design a seamless user experience for booking parking and onwards journeys to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. We conducted individual online depth interviews where we set respondents missions to book parking for different events, in different ways.
  • We’ve used research to optimise the online booking process for a private GP, to identify pain points and increase patient numbers. We watched users remotely to assess respondents’ spontaneous perceptions of the website and we set missions to book different types of appointments, monitoring the successes and failures.  
  • We completed online UX research for a UK tourism agency, completing online depth interviews as we viewed respondents navigating their website and using various planning tools on it.
  • We have also been using UX research tools to understand and optimise the quote & buy journey for various insurance product lines, testing different prototypes and assessing usability relative to the customer need.

What are the benefits of Observational UX Research?

The benefits are plentiful, here are just a few:

  • It provides real-time insights into user behaviour – by moderators sitting back (and often setting missions) and observing users in their natural environment, researchers can gain a better understanding of how they REALLY interact with an app, website, online product or service.
  • Identify pain points – we can see where the user experience falls short, slows down or even frustrate users, something that could easily be missed via other research methods such as telephone interviews or surveys.
  • Uncover UNMET user needs – it can also uncover user needs and requirements that are more subliminal, that users might not explicitly state. By observing users, researchers can gain insights into user behaviour and identify gaps in the user experience.

Insights from observational UX research can help designers make informed decisions when it comes to the design of their app, webpage or the customer journey for online products and services.

We’ve got a great track record of successful UX research (and observation is just one of our methods). But don’t just take our word for it, our client at Protolabs gave us this feedback after we completed a recent observational UX project on their behalf:

“We recently partnered with Mustard on a user experience (UX) project to assess our website journey and identify ways of improving conversion rates amongst customers and prospects. We gained valuable insights from the research into how we could improve the customer journey on our website and landing pages. We made several key changes as a result of the research and since implementation we have seen a 75% increased conversion rate in uploads for our 3D printing service and a 60% increase in live chats. The work Mustard carried out for us has really made a difference.”

That’s another reason why we love being involved in UX research like this. The relative success and evidence of making the difference is so measurable and tangible!

If you have any questions about UX research, we’d love to hear from you, feel free to get in touch –