Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve Got Answers
Strategic UX Research and using it to drive innovation is not new, but it may be new to you. At NextWAVE, we’ve been conducting strategic UX research and discovering powerful insights from it for over 20 years. This set of questions is based on the kinds of things we’ve heard over the years. But if you have one that’s not here, please reach out. We’re happy to try to answer it.
What is generative or strategic research?
Generative user research is a strategic approach in product development that aims to gain deep insights into users’ needs, preferences, and behaviours. Understanding these aspects enables organizations to create innovative and successful products. This research method gathers qualitative data through interviews, observations, and focus groups to generate valuable user insights. These insights are the foundation for designing user-centric products, enhancing user experiences, and driving business growth. Generative user research empowers organizations and senior executives by comprehensively understanding their target audience, enabling informed decision-making, and fostering a customer-centric culture. It helps executives align their strategic vision with the needs and desires of their customers, ensuring the development of products that truly resonate with users and contribute to the company’s long-term success.
At NextWAVE, we have a deep toolkit of generative research methods and how they might be best mixed and matched for the best results. While we can’t promise the moon, we can be sure we will discover essential insights through these methods.
We also understand the importance of telling the right story for the right audience so that you and your team can engage with them and unleash your creative intelligence.
What do you mean by explore the periphery?
We all have heard, and many have been told to think outside the box. And yet, if you look at where ideas for new features or feature improvements come from, they are all typically generated from customer feedback, senior leaders, or product development internally in response to some problem. The explored space tends to be known problems, resulting in incremental innovation. And that is fine if you are not looking for thought-leading, radical, or breakthrough innovations.
To find the kind of innovation opportunity that results in a breakthrough, you must step outside the known problems and into the bigger, more ambiguous problem space. You need to explore the periphery.
Of course, any exploration needs an experienced guide. At NextWAVE, we know the methods we can use to explore the periphery and how to go far enough to find those game-changing insights but not so far as you get lost.
What is User/Customer or Experience Journey Mapping
User experience journey mapping is a strategic tool used in product development to visualize and understand customers’ end-to-end experience when interacting with a product or service. It provides valuable insights into user behaviour, pain points, and opportunities for improvement. By mapping out the user journey, organizations gain a holistic view of the customer experience and can make informed decisions to enhance product offerings. This process allows executives to identify key touchpoints and moments of truth, align internal teams, prioritize investments, and ultimately create a seamless and delightful user experience that drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business growth.
At NextWAVE, we have the tools and experience to quickly and effectively develop useful and insight-rich journey maps based on user research.
What is creative problem-solving?
Creative problem-solving is a strategic approach that leverages innovative thinking to overcome challenges and drive product development. It involves a collaborative and iterative process that encourages teams to think outside the box and explore new possibilities. By fostering a culture of creativity and providing a structured framework, organizations can empower their teams to identify and address complex problems in unique ways. This approach entails thoroughly understanding customer needs by conducting user research and employing divergent thinking to generate a large number and a wide range of ideas. These ideas are then evaluated, refined, and tested through prototypes and user feedback, allowing continuous improvement and adaptation. By embracing creative problem-solving, organizations can foster a culture of innovation that enables their organizations to stay ahead of the competition, deliver exceptional products, and meet evolving market demands.
What kind of prototypes and feedback does this work involve?
The prototypes we develop as outputs from creative-problem solving workshops can include concept models, low-fidelity wireframes or service workflows. Where in-house designers are a part of the project team, prototypes may become quite refined.
Feedback methods may include usability testing, structured critique sessions, survey instruments, or contextual interviews.
At NextWAVE we work with you and your team to employ a combination of prototypes and feedback mechanisms, to ensure that we are solving the right problem the right way.
Does NextWAVE do the implementation?
We are not an implementation team, and our clients usually know way more about their systems and needs in terms of implementation than we do.
However, we help you move from great ideas to making them a reality by working with you and your team to map out the steps you need to take.
What is backcasting?
Backcasting is a practical approach for organizations to plan implementation strategies by envisioning a desired future state and working backward to identify the steps needed to achieve that vision. Unlike traditional forecasting, which predicts future outcomes based on past data, backcasting starts with a future goal and then determines the actions required to reach that goal.
At NextWAVE, we use a backcasting technique to define a clear and compelling vision and objectives of the desired future state. Once we have the vision and objectives established, we will work through a mapping process to identify the necessary conditions, milestones, and actions that need to be taken to make that future state a reality.
Backcasting provides a structured approach to implementation planning, allowing us to break down complex goals into manageable steps and prioritize your implementation efforts. Using backcasting, we can anticipate challenges, seize opportunities, and make informed decisions to support a smooth transition from ideas to reality.
Doesn't Strategic UX Research take a long time?
Not necessarily. Of course, a lot depends on the size of the problem space, resources, and depth we go into. At NextWAVE, we’re a fan of doing layered and concurrent studies where we can. That way, we can compress the overall timeline. Another way to make the research move faster is to use group workshops with end-users. These are not focus groups, even though we do get people together in a group. We’ve done this very successfully in multiple settings and find we can condense a typical journey mapping project by about 2/3 or 4 weeks and still get very rich data, and impactful insights across multiple archetypes.
If we engage NextWAVE do we have to do all three phases?
No, you can engage us for as little or as much as you need. We will aim to support you and your team in a way that fits your needs, schedule and budget.
Couldn't you just coach my team?
Yes, of course we can. The only caveat here is that this work takes some focus and effort. If your team is already jammed, adding more to-dos won’t help. We’ll work with you to figure out how to make it all work.
Can I just take a course and do it myself?
Again, yes, you can. But what we have seen is that this is deep work, and it helps to have an experienced person wade through the data to discover the meaty insights.
Can you guarantee we'll discover unmet needs?
That’s impossible to say. But in every research Strategic UX research engagement we have done, we have uncovered at least one unmet need.