How to find out user behaviour without interview

If you are a UI/UX Designer just like me, chances are you need to research user’s behaviour before designing anything. User behaviour could be tricky to find out, depending on your resources.

There are few methods to find out your real user personality and behaviour such as :

Focus group (best for initial part to find out if your solution may solve a problem, or to find out even if the problem exist at all)

Observation (this is good to observe how user actually interact with an existing product)

One-on-one interview (this is the best way to get the essence of your desired information, if accompanied with the right questions, too)

Questionnaire (this is also good when the question is right, otherwise it might cause more work or unhelpful information)

There are more ways to find out about user in general, however, all of these may cause a certain amount of resources.

Some of them are expensive as you have to compensate each participant for their time. Some of them needed some time and the facility. You might be lucky when you have many friends that apparently fits into the type of user for your product. But what if, out of all possible resources, you don’t have any?

oh my my my my my!

You don’t have the facility centre, you don’t have the proper place, you don’t have knowledge to draft proper questions, and you don’t have friends/family that fits into your product’s target user. Or worst of all, you just don’t have any time!

I know, when you want a good product, time has to be one of the investments here.

Just like money.

But many many , and many companies out there, looking to launch a digital product, do not want to invest in time for a proper research and we as their UI/UX Designer has to solve this problem too.

So here I am, proposing you ways to solve these existing problems!

Before we start. this writing does NOT try to encourage anyone to skip the proper interview/research process, but rather to give one option solution to get the job done when resources are so limited.

Here are the ways to do so :

1. Determine your possible target audience.

Find out their income group, their age, their vision and mission etc.

2. Find out the top competitors in your field of industry.

Know where your industry at and try to find a competitor that most people love. For example, if you are in the eCommerce platform industry in Malaysia, your top 3 competitors could be Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora.

3. Know your platform

If your product platform is desktop/mobile website, get the same platform as your reference. Don’t compare a mobile website to an app as they might differ.

4. Make their UI Wireframe

sample UI Wireframe study

I like to wireframe the existing competitor product in order to know myself how they are actually done and immerse myself in the process.

You may skip this and just have a look closely at the screenshots and see for each and every component and notice how they interact. However, if your eyes are not heavily experienced to notice every single detail, it is best to wireframe it.

Pick only few important screens to wireframe, like the key screens to your type of product. For example, if you are making a cosmetic shop app, the key screens could be Home, product detail, view cart detail, and check out.

For every component you made, try to question : why did they do it this way ?

I noticed some unusual design choices (in my opinion) when I was making the wireframe of the competitors’ product. Some assumptions of reasons may be “higher management requested it” or “their research/survey shown that this is what their customer wants”.

Everything that you see, do not attempt to fix it. The goal here is to understand, not to fix.

5. Note down the UX events.

sample UX Events and their questions

Where this button leads to, is there any gesture somewhere, how is the gesture, if there is a micro copy shows up when you did something. Note them down and indicate where it happens.

6. Summarise everything

I am sure you have made many UI components and write down UX events. The last step is to summarise it. For every competitor product you copied, try to see the overall ui and experience and give your thoughts about it. Whether it is good, it is bad. Whether it is worth to be called “the best app in xxx industry”. Try to think : why is this app did things this way, what are the assumptions you can confirm (when you got to research). If the app is so good, ask about it too!

7. (optional) confirm your assumptions

When you are done with all the questions and summary. It is best to confirm your assumptions. One way to do this is to go to the LinkedIn, google the name of the company who made the product/web, and find their product designer to ask your questions or assumptions. You can also reach out to the company by email. This is an optional step because you may or may not get the answer. Sometimes you may get the answer but in a very long time. Some companies or individuals may have a strict rule not to tell anyone outside about company decisions. This is kind of “try your luck” step, therefore i put it as optional. It is no harm to try, though! Just remember to ask politely and tell the reason why you ask about it.

So here are the ways to skip the proper user research. In summary, you will actually still doing research, but just a much more compressed one. So if you can make a way to get more time, stick to the proper way 😉

If you have any comment, any suggestion, and additional tips, let me know in the comment down below!

See you in my next blog post 😊


Leni Tjahjadi

UX Design, Copywriting, UX Writing, Marketing Visual, and Branding

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