Design Research and UX Research on App Store Usage

The field of design research can still trace its humble beginnings to UX research. Particularly here at STBY this is an heritage that we are proud of, since so many of us have a background in UX research. Very recently we were challenged to imagine a research project to support the development of a new app store design that could combine design research and UX research.

With software development getting more and more streamlined, it is to be expected that the research activities that usually happen early in the innovation funnel – such as design research – will have to take into account the research activities later in the innovation funnel – such as UX and market research.

Usually, these two streams of customer research can be quite disconnected, because the organisations tend to use them in two distant points in time, and they answer different questions altogether. However, there are advantages for a company if the two research methods could be leveraged to generate something more useful than the sum of its parts. Could design research improve the usefulness of UX research (or vice versa)?

This study started with design research activities in the UK – in depth interviews, video clips and customer journey mapping customer experiences with current app stores – in order to understand how the new app store design and its features could better cover people’s habits, needs and motivations in similar contexts.

Immediately following the design research activities, STBY conducted a series of usability sessions in our studio in London. In these sessions several participants were given a series of tasks to perform while exploring and using a prototype of the new app store. Their overall reaction to the software and their ability/inability to conclude these tasks were recorded.

In the UX research analysis phase, the design research results served as a framework to rank the issues found in the usability tests. Usually, the outcome of a UX research activity is a list of software barriers people found when completing tasks, with those barriers being organised by how much they limit people’s ability to complete a tasks. However, having previously conducted the design research with app store users, we now had the ability to prioritise the software design problems from the perspective of people in their normal, day to day use of app stores.

This allowed STBY and the designers and strategists in the client team to add another layer to the UX research, helping them to prioritise investments in software changes that will have the most impact on peoples’ real life use of the new app store. This end-to-end design research and UX research was an important project to STBY, and we are looking forward to seeing the results of our work in phones all around us.

Curious to know more about how design research and UX research can benefit from each other? Want to find out how design research methods can be applied to digital services and products? Do give us a call or drop by our offices in London and Amsterdam.