In some companies, User Experience Research is often skipped due to resource and budget constraints. Rapid7 has a dedicated User Experience Research team that focuses on understanding our customers' behaviors, their needs, motivations, and the environments in which they work.  We do this in order to create technology that helps users in the most natural and powerful way possible.


To find answers for these questions, the Rapid7 User Experience Research team defines the questions we need to answer, outlines the best research methods to employ, gathers data using the chosen methods, synthesizes and analyzes the collected data, answers our research questions, and only then will we define which opportunities and implications exist for our design efforts.

Depending on the project, we might select one or more research methods, such as Focus Groups, Contextual Enquiry, Ethnographic Research, Customer Interviews, Surveys, Competitor Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Time Motion Study, System Usability Scale, and Usability Testing.

Let's focus on two of these research methods as they can also be used to set a baseline of where you are with your existing products, namely:

  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Time Motion Study

A Heuristic Evaluation is a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the User Interface (UI) design. Here are some principles that usability experts use to evaluate a product:

  • Visibility of system status
  • Match between system and the real world
  • User control and freedom
  • Consistency and standards
  • Error prevention
  • Recognition rather than recall
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use
  • Aesthetics and minimalist design
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
  • Help and documentation

Sometimes, these principles are tweaked to suit a products evaluation needs. An evaluator can divide the product into multiple sections and each time a violation against the said principles is found, the violations are marked with low, medium or critical severity. The frequency of violations can be multiplied with the severity to assign a score to each section of the product. This helps the product team to prioritize what needs to be addressed first from a user experience standpoint.

A Time Motion Study is a direct and continuous observation of a task, using a timekeeping device and video recording to record the time taken to accomplish a task.

To complete this type of study, the primary tasks a user would accomplish with a product are identified. Following this, a time-based benchmark to accomplish each task is set. This is generally done by a power-user that knows the product well. Once benchmarks have been set, between five and seven users are chosen, several of whom have never used the product before as well as others who have used it, however are not considered power users, to complete the same tasks under the same conditions. Their tasks are also timed and any repetitive work cycles are eliminated. On completion of the time motion study, the data collected help the User Research team to understand how much our product experience needs to be optimized to make it more efficient.

To learn more about this technique, follow this link at the Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/1993/01/time-and-motion-regained

-The Rapid7 User Experience Team

Thank you @Ger Joyce
Picture Courtesy: Hilobrow.com