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GuidesUser experience (UX)6 tips on choosing a research topic

6 tips on choosing a research topic

Last updated

18 January 2023

Reviewed by

Tanya Williams

Research reveals a target audience's wants and needs, giving you insights into how customers interact with your product or services. However, research can only be fruitful if it answers questions that create the most value for the users and the company. 

Selecting an impactful research topic is easier said than done, and it can be confusing when there are several potential areas to explore. Keep reading to learn how to develop a definitive research topic.

Figure out what you want to accomplish

Your motivations will likely influence your topic choice. For instance, if you intend to create a new product, your research topic will likely revolve around identifying the needs of the intended markets, ascertaining market trends, and determining competitor behavior.

Your research topic will likely differ for a product redesign or upgrade. In this case, you would center the research topic on these improvement areas to gather constructive feedback.

Having a clear area of interest and a purpose for the research will help you come up with some relevant research topics to choose from, which you can eliminate as you go along.

Consult the stakeholders

Choosing a research topic is not the sole prerogative of the user researcher. It’s best to involve other relevant stakeholders and decision-makers who will contribute to the research. To develop the right research topic, find out what the stakeholders already know and need to learn about consumers.

You may discover that stakeholders have differing views on some assumptions about the audience. These disagreements can help you determine a viable research topic, as they signal a crucial knowledge gap.

Similarly, most stakeholders may pose similar questions when asked what they need to know about the target audience. In this case, you could formulate a research topic to answer this question.

Practical use of data

You will likely come up with many aspects of your product that need research, but it’s not feasible to research every topic. When choosing a topic, you should examine whether the research will produce actionable feedback and insights that your organization can apply quickly. You should also estimate the ROI (return on investment).  

You should avoid a research topic where your organization cannot readily apply the results and data to improve product outcomes. An example is a research topic that requires vast amounts of money to implement. For instance, asking customers whether they would prefer the product delivered to them is irrelevant if you’re not ready to contend with the logistical challenges of creating such a service.

Use customer feedback

Customer reviews and emails can help an organization improve the user experience for its target audience. However, research is more exhaustive as it provides some scope and helps you gather more conclusive results.

When you aren’t sure what to research, you could review all the customer responses and find their most common area of concern. You can investigate this concern further by designing a research topic around that area.

Aim to create maximum impact

When conducting research, your primary intention should be to focus on a topic that significantly impacts your target audience and organization. When you’re faced with various viable research topics, prioritize them in the order of impact. Select the most applicable and implementable research topic to yield the most favorable outcome for the customers and business.

If data indicates that increasing customer access to an existing product would yield more benefits than creating a new product, you should shelve the latter and research the former. That way, you will realize the benefits and gather adequate resources to explore other areas in the future.

Consider practical factors

Your choice of topic will largely influence your study approach. If you select a topic that relies on available numerical and measurable data, you will use quantitative research. On the other hand, you will employ qualitative research if your topic seeks to gather people's experiences and stories. Quantitative research is often cheaper than qualitative.

Your topic will determine your choice of methodology. Therefore, if you anticipate financial challenges or have a constrained budget, choose a research topic that will cost less.

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