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User research glossary

This glossary aims at presenting specific words, terms and laws about user research and user experience design. The user research and UX design glossary is not exhaustif and constantly improved by Ferpection team. Don’t hesitate to write at [email protected] if you want to propose a suggestion.

AB Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of online content against each other to determine which one drives more conversions and revenue.

Agile sprint

A sprint is a set period of time during which a chosen task must be completed and made ready for a review. Commonly, a sprint lasts between one and three weeks.

Animated wireframe

A type of prototype that gives a visual representation of the user interface of a website or software application. Unlike static wireframes, in simulation clickable wireframes respond to user interaction.


A questionnaire elaborated by Hassenzahl and his colleagues in 2003, it is a reference in user research. It allows to evaluate hedonic and pragmatic characteristics of an interactive system.

Benchmark testing

Testing against a set of standard best practices or past performance metrics.


Process for generating creative ideas and solutions through intensive and freewheeling group discussion. Every participant is encouraged to think aloud and suggest as many ideas as possible, no matter seemingly how outlandish or bizarre.


A technique using either actual cards or software, whereby users generate an information hierarchy that can then form the basis of an information architecture or navigation menu.

Circular Design

The circular design is playing an essential role in this new nonlinear economy through building a design thinking process that intends to build new business models that consider the future of the product waste in multiple dimensions.

Crazy eight

User research method to generate new feature ideas with 8 participants. Each participant draws in a screen or feature for one minute (so, 8 minutes in a total) and then share it with the rest of the participants to improve design. At the end of the session, there is a convergence phase with “Best of” to see what features are most liked by participants.

Customer eXperience (CX)

Encompasses all the interactions a person has with your brand. It might be measured in: overall experience, likelihood to continue use, and likelihood to recommend to others. In essence, CX is part of a broader UX, but CX contains some aspects outside of a product that UX does not.

Design sprint

A design sprint is a time-constrained, five-phase process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. It originates within GV (formerly, Google Ventures) from a vision to grow UX culture.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

Diary study

Research method that involves providing participants with the materials and structure to record daily events, tasks and perceptions around a given subject in order to gain insight into their behaviour and needs over time.

Discovery phase

First phase of the creation process, the discovery phase aims at understanding user habits and needs on specific subject to design a solution that will fit those.

Empathy Map

An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.

Experience map

A user experience map shows the users’ needs, expectations, wants, and potential route to reach a particular goal.

Eye tracking

Eye tracking is the process of measuring eye activity. It uses tools like special glasses to record what users look at and in what order.

Fitts law

Is a predictive model of human movement primarily used in human–computer interaction and ergonomics. This scientific law predicts that the time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target.

Fly on the wall

Is a traditional observational technique that allows a design researcher to collect data by seeing and listening. This method helps the researcher in secretly gaining an insight of the participant’s behavior in a certain scenario.

Focus Group

A focus group is a pointed discussion with a group of participants that a moderator leads through a set of questions on a particular topic to obtain feedback (about users, products, concepts, prototypes, tasks, strategies, and environments) and insights to create thanks to the dynamic group dynamic. (Part of qualitative research)

Heuristic evaluation

It is a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics").

Hick’s law

Named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

A multidisciplinary field of study focusing on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers. While initially concerned with computers, HCI has since expanded to cover almost all forms of information technology design.

Inclusive design principles

They are intended to give anyone involved in the design and development of websites and applications a broad approach to inclusive design.

Information Architecture

Structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Jakob’s law

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know. Jakob's Law was coined by Jakob Nielsen, a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer).

Lean UX

Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX speeds up the UX process by putting less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed.

Miller’s law

The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory. In 1956, George Miller asserted that the span of immediate memory and absolute judgment were both limited to around 7 pieces of information. The main unit of information is the bit, the amount of data necessary to make a choice between two equally likely alternatives. Likewise, 4 bits of information is a decision between 16 binary alternatives (4 successive binary decisions). The point where confusion creates an incorrect judgment is the channel capacity.

Mobile first

Application vendors consider their mobile users as the number one priority in their development roadmap.


A mockup is a detailed static representation of the design that clearly displays the information structure, renders the content and demonstrates the basic functionality. A mockup is a prototype if it provides at least part of the functionality of a system and enables testing of a design.


Minimal Viable Product, is a version of a product that has the minimum amount of features but can be used for user testing or demonstration. This approach allows for a more elaborate, in-depth testing phase before its potential is determined.


An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs.


A panel refers to a permanent sample of individuals, supposed to be representative of a population, periodically questioned about their attitudes, habits, opinions or behaviours.

Pareto principle

The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Its origins stem back to Vilfredo Pareto, an economist who noticed 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population. Though it might seem vague, the 80/20 way of thinking can provide insightful and endlessly applicable analysis of lopsided systems, including user experience strategy.

Parkinson’s law

Any task will inflate until all of the available time is spent. Articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955 and since republished online, it was reprinted with other essays in the book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (London, John Murray, 1958). He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British Civil Service.


Is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. That makes more sense in a quantitative research.


A rough guide for the layout of a website or app, giving an indication of the direction that the product is heading.

Qualitative Research

The study of human behavior that focuses on context and observations rather than numerical data or statistics. Allows to know WHY and HOW.

Quantitative research

The study of human behavior that focuses on numerical data and statistics. Allows to know WHAT and WHO.

Quota sampling

The sample is divided into mutually exclusive sub-groups (without overlapping) according to the criteria requested for the profiles. Each sub-group, or quota, is assigned a proportion so that the overall proportions of each criteria are respected.

Remote user-test

Users follow a 3 to 10 steps scenario while explaining their experience, giving positive or negative feedback and suggesting optimizations. You can also compare experiences on different versions or with competing services.

Responsive design

A design approach that responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries.


A sample is a smaller, manageable group representing a larger population. It is a subset containing the same characteristics as the larger group. This smaller and representative group of individuals makes it possible to conduct user researches and then be able to extrapolate the results to the greatest number.

Service Blueprint

The service blueprint is a technique originally used for service design and innovation, but has also found applications in diagnosing problems with operational efficiency. The service blueprint is an applied process chart which shows the service delivery process from the customer's perspective.


The idea of shadowing someone to see what they are doing is not new. It is simple; the researcher accompanies the user and observes how they use the product or service within their natural environment.


Closed and open-questions asked to a volume of users going from 100 to 300 to get answers on precise points.

SUS questionnaire

The System Usability Scale (SUS) provides a “quick and dirty”, reliable tool for measuring the usability. It consists of a 10 item questionnaire with five response options for respondents; from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree.


The target is the population you want to reach with a product, service or brand.

Tesler’s law

Tesler's Law, also known as The Law of Conservation of Complexity, states that for any system there is a certain amount of complexity which cannot be reduced. While working for Xerox PARC in the mid-1980s, Larry Tesler realized that the way users interact with applications was just as important as the application itself. The book Designing for Interaction by Dan Saffer, includes an interview with Larry Tesler that describes the law of conservation of complexity.

Testing roadmap

A file mapping the different tests to come to help the product development.

Tree testing

A usability technique for evaluating the findability of topics in a website. It is also known as reverse card sorting or card-based classification. A large website is typically organized into a hierarchy (a "tree") of topics and subtopics. Tree testing provides a way to measure how well users can find items in this hierarchy.


User Interface, in the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur.


Is an important quality indicator for interactive IT products/systems. It refers to the degree to which products are effective, easy to use, easy to learn, efficient, fewer errors and satisfying to users. Usability is mainly about the functional part of the product. In a word, “Don’t make me think”.

User-Centered Design

User centered design (UCD) is an approach to designing a product or service (e.g. user interface design), in which the end user is placed in the center of the process. The primary concern of user-centered design are the targeted end users of the website or the application and which requirements these users will have. User-centered design ensures that the target users easily understand the user interface and find what they are looking for.

User experience

Refers to a person’s subjective feeling and attitudes about using a particular product or service. It includes the functional scope, product brand, psychological expectation, and actual emotional feeling. These are an indispensable parts of the user experience.

User experience questionnaire (UEQ)

A fast and reliable questionnaire to measure the User Experience of interactive products on 6 scales: attractiveness, perspicuity, efficiency, dependability, stimulation, novelty.

User flow

User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. The user flow takes them from their entry point through a set of steps towards a successful outcome and final action, such as purchasing a product.

User interview

Interviews can be done by phone, video call or in person. It can be exploratory or guided depending on the research objectives.

User Journey

A user journey is a sequence of steps a user takes to reach their goal when navigating a website. It is simply an experience a user has while interacting with software.

User story

In agile modeling, user stories are one of the primary development artifacts for Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) project teams. A user story is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it.

UX research

The systematic investigation of users and their requirements, in order to add context and insight into the process of designing the user experience. UX research is not a technical assessment, even though you may encounter some bugs to fix. UX research is not theoretical research either, as it focuses on finding detailed facts on pragmatic real-life experiences and not abstract principles or theories. It is “applied” research.


A rough guide for the layout of a website or app, either done with pen and paper or with wireframing software.