The future of UX research

Applications capture more information than ever about their users, from heart rate to tone of voice. Prepare for a connected software future with qualitative UX measurements.

Winning the hearts and minds of software customers could come from measuring their hearts and minds. There is an exciting array of advanced UX measurement techniques on the horizon, as enterprises invest in and experiment with physiological measurements and emotional analytics.

In the future of UX research, enterprises will make use of advanced data to open new business and app-dev possibilities. Organizations need new workflows to fully adopt qualitative UX measurement techniques, such as having UX pros spend more time with QA and development teams to drive software direction. However, companies must also address privacy and ethical concerns as part of this process to settle growing unrest about big tech.

Emotional analytics
Physiological data will help UX testers make sense of a user’s feelings while engaged with software, with the aid of emotional analytics tools, said Camilo Mejías, a UI/UX designer at Altimetrik, a digital transformation consultancy.

Mejías cites Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, by Don Norman, which emphasizes that it’s no longer enough to simply provide a usable product. The future of UX is emotionally appealing experiences rather than simply functional ones. Frameworks like Google’s HEART — Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task Success — attempt to capture how users feel when they complete tasks or activities in a product.

UX testers have explored ways to gain insight into customer experience in the affective computing field, but a lack of tools makes these assessments of a technology’s human interactivity challenging.

“We knew what we needed to measure to build better products, but expensive equipment that was also too invasive to use in a user-testing session hindered our ability to get accurate data on user’s emotions,” Mejías said.

Smartwatches and wearable activity trackers accurately measure a user’s heart rate, and phones offer advanced facial recognition features that capture subtle expressions. These consumer technologies provide UX testers with valuable insights into how users feel. Biometric and neurometric devices gather data on biological information such as eye movement, brain activity, skin response and facial response. These tools will likely become an essential component of future UX research.

“The speed at which these technologies are evolving to become part of our lives make this moment a great time to perform UX research,” Mejías said.