When to Use Which UX Research Method

Great article from Jakob Nielsen, on when to use which user experience research method:

He breaks the product development cycle into 3 stages:

  1. Strategy
  2. Optimization
  3. Assessment

Product Development Phase
Strategize Optimize Assess
Goal: Inspire, explore and choose new directions and opportunities Inform and optimize designs in order to reduce risk and improve usability Measure product performance against itself or its competition
Approach: Qualitative and Quantitative Mainly Qualitative (formative) Mainly Quantitative (summative)
Typical methods: Ethnographic field studies, focus groups, diary studies, surveys, data mining or analytics Cardsorting, field studies, participatory design, paper prototype and usability studies, desirability studies, customer emails Usability benchmarking, online assessments, surveys, A/B testing

He breaks down the different research methods on 2 dimensions:

  1. Behavioral to Attitudinal (what people do to what they say/think/feel)
  2. Qualitative t0 Quantitative (psychological/sociological to mathematical/statistical)

And then talks about where the different methods fall, and when they are most often used.