The 6 big advantages of neuro research

The 6 big advantages of neuro research

Regular user testing methods have been used since websites started becoming popular on the internet and when people started buying products online. Back in the day, it was important as a company that you owned the technology that made you stand out, e.g. to even have a website online. Not much later, every company owned a website and the way for a company to stand out was to offer more functionalities on your website than your competitor did. Over the past 10-15 years, the consumer has become able to get anything, anywhere. The way to stand out now has been all about making an emotional connection and creating an emotional experience for your customers. 

Although websites have evolved over the last decennia, the qualitative user testing method almost did not change at all. This method still focuses on analyzing what users think of functionalities and the technological capabilities of modern websites and not taking emotions into account at all. 

Most of the big B2C brands in The Netherlands have already been working with Neuro Usability method for a couple of years. This is because it has some major advantages compared to regular user testing methods. But before we start with the advantages of Neuro Usability, first let us explain what the Neuro Usability method contains.

Did you know that the neuro usability method was invented and first used by Braingineers in 2013? After 1,5 years of research, the founders created a unique method to capture the real emotional experience while participants navigated through a website. In order to establish this they’ve integrated the neuro component (EEG) into a user testing procedure that is highly adapted to today’s agile way of working. And this is still the core of Braingineers today.

Neuro Usability is a qualitative user testing method. For each journey 10 unique participants are asked to perform a task on a website or app. The research is performed with participants individually performing the task in a natural and undisturbed way, making it as similar as possible to a real-life situation.

By adding the brain data layer to regular user testing, we are able to detect peaks in Joy, Attention or Frustration. These moments are the foundation of getting the most valuable insights into the user experience. This brings us 6 big advantages compared to regular user testing methods.

1. People have a hard time explaining what they feel

It’s really difficult for humans to know exactly what they feel and what event exactly triggered that emotion. This is because our emotional responses are an automatic and subconscious process that influences our rational decision making (Interesting read: Daniel Kahneman). Our brain subconsciously processes all the data that’s coming through our senses and filters, analyzes and makes associations for us to only focus on what’s important at that specific moment. 

The neuro usability method measures these emotional responses, beyond the awareness of the users, by recording data directly from the brain’s activations. Patterns in these data are recognized by unique algorithms which detect three important emotions: joy, attention, and frustration.

2. People don’t say what they feel

Even if people were able to asses some emotions and their cause, there is something called the social desirability bias. That is a type of response bias which results in the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others, a social desirable way. For example, people are over-reporting “good things” or under-reporting “bad things”. 

With Neuro Usability, as it is somewhat a lie-detector, it is possible to detect the emotional responses from the users, but also marks the moments where the users have experienced a peak in one of the three emotions. 

3. Natural way of testing

The social desirability bias is inescapable if you have a setting where a UX researcher continuously interviews the user about their thoughts about the website. It becomes even worse when you put a group of participants together in a room to discuss their thoughts.  Also known as Groupthink, another psychological phenomenon.

Since Neuro Usability measures the important moments on an emotional level, there is no need for verbal interaction between a researcher and the user. This allows us to create a setting where a user, like at home, is completely free in navigating through the website. Even when he or she gets stuck (as something that might occur in real life toot), this is an important and realistic finding. 

4. Better insights in the ‘why’

Because participants are able to navigate as they would do at home, you’re getting the most realistic and thus valuable insights. The Neuro Usability method includes neurofeedback, where the users are shown their own emotions and eye movements after a test and are asked to explain their thoughts on these specific moments only. The visualization of their emotions and behavior helps the user in explaining their subsconscious experiences to the researcher. These peaks in emotions have shown to be the most important source of insights when optimizing websites, because these provide you with the answer to the ‘why’ of behavior.

5. Drop out behavior & frustration are related

One example is that a year’s worth of A/B testing with one of our clients has proven that when they based A/B test hypotheses on measured frustration peaks/bottlenecks their rate of significant positive results increased with 25%! Because of being able to better pinpoint why this frustration increases, these successful A/B tests have proven to reach 17% higher conversion rates on average than tests where no emotion data was included in the process.

6. Data-driven evidence

Where regular user testing methods gather feedback all through the funnel and focus on every page, it’s hard to get objective evidence to settle internal discussions on website optimizations or to prioritize. As we’ve learned, there are always individuals who have an opinion on everything and know best how to improve your website. Also sometimes known as the HIPPO in the room. 

Emotion data, coming from the Neuro Usability method, can provide the hard facts on the emotional responses of your users on your website. Making it the ultimate tool to settle discussions, or to prioritize your backlog or validate a concept/prototype. 

Of course, Braingineers is not alone in this method. Many big companies have adopted this method to provide the best insights to their clients. Braingineers recently released their Emotions in UX report, being the first to rank different branches on their performance on emotional experiences. Neuro Usability is the way forward, and hopefully, a lot of companies will follow the early adopters here.

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The Netherlands

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