Categories Design

52 Research Terms you need to know as a UX Designer

3 Click Rule

This is the theory that users will leave a website if they can’t get to the page they want within 3 click.

5 Second Test

A 5 second test involves showing users the interface of software application or a website for 5 seconds. The participant then has to recall what they saw on the page. This is a great method to see whether the key visuals, or calls to actions have been correct impact.

80/20 Rule

This is based on the Pareto principle. Applied to any website, web app, or software environment, 20% of the functionality and features will be responsible for 80% of the results.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a when you test two different versions of online content with users to see which one they prefer.


Accessibility is the ease with which people can use and understand a website or app. This also refers to how websites and apps are adapted for those with disabilities or special needs. An example of this could be adapting colours to allow for people who are colour blind.

Active Listening

This is an interviewing technique where the interviewer pays attention and provides feedback to encourage the conversation.


Analytics gives valuable information on the traffic to your website and app. It tells you where your traffic comes from and where they move around. It gives a great insight as to what is working or not with your site /app.

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. In a card sorting session, participants organise topics into categories that make sense to them. They may also be asked to label these groups. To do a card sort, you can use cards, pieces of paper, or an online card sorting tool.

Clickstream Analysis

On a website, clickstream analysis (also called clickstream analytics) is the process of collecting and analysing data about which pages a website visitor visits, and in what order. The path the visitor takes though a website is called the clickstream.

Competitor Analysis

This is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors.

Context of Use Analysis

The context of use analysis involves collecting and analysing information about: the intended users, their tasks, the tools to support their goals, the physical environment that the product will be used in, the technical constraints and other factors that’ll effect the user experience.

The data for a context of use analysis can be gathered using interviews, workshops, surveys, site visits, focus groups, observational studies, and contextual inquiry .

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that complete a targeted transaction online.

In e-commerce, conversion marketing is the act of converting site visitors into paying customers. The process of improving the conversion rate is called conversion rate optimisation.

Diary Study

A diary study is a research method used to collect qualitative data about user behaviours, activities, and experiences over time. Typically, users self-report their activities at regular intervals to create a log of their activities. The diary study can range from a few days to over a month.

End Users

This is the people who use a website/app or those who are participants or subjects of research studies.

Engagement (User Engagement)

User engagement is about getting a users attention and keeping it. Anything that helps a user stay focused on a page or a screen (whether it be a button or a menu) is crucial.

Entry Field

The entry field (also known as a data or text entry field) is when users are required to make text or data entries.

Error Analysis

A part of task analysis that identifies the frequency and type of errors that occur for each specified set of task flows.

Error Rate

Frequency in which errors occur in a given time period.

Ethnography / Ethnographic Research

This is the study of people in their own environment through the use of methods such as observation and face-to-face interviewing.

Eye Tracking

This is the measurement of eye activity on a screen or an environment. Eye tracking software allows the users eye movement to be tracked on a screen. It can see what they look at most frequently and in what order.

Fishbone Diagram

A diagram designed to identify cause and effect relationships between factors in a given situation. It is made up of a “head” which states a problem and bones along the spine which represent factors and categories of factors.

The fishbone helps to visually display the potential causes for a specific problem.

A mathematical model that predicts how long it will take to point at a target based on target size and proximity. The further away and smaller it is the longer it will take for user to interact with it.

Focus Group

This is a discussion with a group of participants, that a moderator leads through a set of questions on a particular topic. The idea is to obtain feedback about users, products, concepts, prototypes, tasks, strategies, and environments.

Free Listing

A data collection technique to gain user insight for a specific topic. it’s done by asking people to list all the items they can think of that relate to that topic.

Gestalt Principles

Also know as the “Law if simplicity”. This states that every stimulus is perceived in its most simple form. People do not visually perceive items in isolation, but as part of a larger whole.

Heart Framework

Google’s Heart Framework allows you to measure the user experience on a large scale. The metrics that are measured are: Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task Analysis.

Hick’s Law

Hick’s law, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has. Increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time.

Human Factors

Human factors and ergonomics (also known as comfort design) is the practice of designing products, systems, or processes to take proper account of the interaction between them and the people who use them.

Intercept Studies

Intercept surveys are surveys that are conducted in-person, generally in a public place or business. For example, interviewers might approach people leaving a shop and ask to interview them about their experiences.


Keep it Simple Stupid. KISS was design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. It states that most systems work best if they are kept simple. Simplicity is a key goal in design.


How easy or difficult it is to learn to effectively use a system or interface.

Likert Scale

This is a survey method in which a person is asked to rate their answer on a scale. The scale could be positive to negative with a neutral score in between.

Mental Map / Mental Model

The closer the users mental model is to the functionality of the site, the higher the site’s perceived usability.


An action designed to identify where on a page links are located. Minesweeping involves the user rapidly moving the cursor over a page, watching to see where the cursor or pointer changes to indicate the presence of a link.

Participatory Design

Participatory design (originally co-operative design, now often co-design) is an approach to design attempting to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, end users) in the design process. The aim is to help ensure the result meets their needs.


The route taken by a user as they move through a Web site. The path can be shown by breadcrumbs.


The creation of a representative user based on available data and user interviews. Though the personal details of the persona may be fiction, the information used to create the user type is not.

Qualitative Research

The study of human behaviour that focuses on context and observations rather than numerical data or statistics.

Quantitative Research

The study of human behaviour that focuses on numerical data and statistics. This can be done through polls, questionnaires and surveys.

Remote Usability Studies

Remote usability testing allows you to conduct user research with participants in their own environment by using screen sharing software. It allows you to record the face and voice of participants.

The advantage of this kind of research is that your pool of participants can be much larger than your own location. As a result you can conduct more research sessions in a shorter time.

Representative Sampling

Choosing a group of participants that represent your target audience.


A survey is a list of questions aimed at extracting specific data from a particular group of people. Surveys may be conducted by phone, the internet, face-to-face and various other ways.

Target Market

The set of users for which a product is designed for.

Task Analysis

A method used to identify and understand the activities to be performed by users when interacting with a website or app.

Task Flow Diagrams

A visual representation of tasks and there interrelationship on a site.

Think Aloud

Think-aloud (or thinking aloud) is a method used to gather data in usability testing. During usability testing asking the user to think out aloud on what they see and do helps to gather valuable information.

True Intent Studies

True intent studies measure the experience users have with a website and provide insights for improving the design by answering the following questions:

  • Who’s visiting?
  • Why are they coming?
  • What do they like or dislike?
  • How well do they succeed?

The answers to these questions help us empathise with users and understand how to address their needs.


How effectively, efficiently and satisfactorily a user can interact with a user interface.

Usability Benchmarking

This measures the current usability of a system and provides a baseline against which future usability can be measured.

Usability Lab

A space designated for conducting usability tests by observing user interactions with a system and recording their activities. Additional observers may be present or may observe via two- way mirrors or video streaming in another room.

User Flow

A user flow is the steps a user performs to complete a task. The “top path” is the most common user flow.

User Research

User research focuses on understanding user needs, behaviours and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and many other other methods.



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