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Founder & Principal Designer, Studio Fra is a boutique UX design consultancy which specialises in crafting digital experiences and brand strategy for clients of all sizes. For more information visit www.studiofra.com

User Experience Design is an activity
that depends on extensive research for proper execution. Customer feedback is an important aspect of this research.
Essentially, there are two kinds of research to
obtain customer feedback in a systematic and analytical manner – market research and user research. Although the two may sometimes be substituted for each other, they are two separate
strategies
. To the general mind, people might think how does the difference between the two matter as long as you obtain the customer insight you require? However, to the UX designers, the market and user research cannot coincide as they give different
types of consumer insight.
We will first take a look at market research and user research separately. Following this, we bring out the difference between the two in a more specific manner.

Market Research

Market research is a more familiar concept to companies and to the public. It focuses on collecting data for analysing and making business decisions related to branding, marketing and sales.  Market Research emphasizes on the customer’s perception towards the brand’s advertising and customer relations. With this feedback, companies make the decision on how to market or advertise their application or website.
For example, market research includes areas such as customer segmentation, brand message and advertising analysis, measuring brand loyalty and figuring out what price is acceptable by customers for the SaaS or PaaS. How is this important in UX design, some may ask? Although it is not directly connected to the User Experience itself, market research helps to see what kind of products the consumers might want which in turn helps in building the right product that consumers need. Moreover, with aspects like customer segmentation, it becomes easier to design an application or website based on what your target audience might like to interact with.

User Research

On the other hand, user research focuses on how the users actually interact with the product. Contrary to the market research, it concentrates on the usability, navigation, information architecture and interaction design of the application or website. It focuses on the product, not its market. This enables the UX designers to effectively craft an intuitive design that supports positive user experience. UX designers do this through understanding their customer base.
User research is done through a number of methods like evaluation tests, usability tests and more. It also involves the UX designers making constant iterations to bring out the optimal user experience.

Difference between the Two

There are a few specific points that bring out the elements of difference between the two types of research.
  • Market research is more quantitative while user research is more qualitative.
  • Marketing measures branding while user research measures user behaviour
  • Marketing concentrates on customer segmentation while user research concentrates on managing the interaction with customers through the product. 
  • Market research focuses on what customers say about their brand while user research concentrates on what users do during interaction.
  • Market research requires large data set, user research can do with a handful of participants.
Moreover, the two types of research are done by different departments. Market research is mainly done by the marketing department whereas user research is done either by UX
team or a separate research department working closely with the designers. Although there is a difference in their working and who actually does the research, the two in the way that they both contribute and support the UX designer to build interactive user experiences.
Sometimes, both market research and user research complement each other. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, UX designers can craft unique designs. The user research also enables researchers to see how the user experience is affecting brand loyalty. They do borrow ideas from each other allowing for a much broader horizon of research. At Studio Fra, we believe in investing appropriately in both kinds of research to help us design positive user experiences.

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