What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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7 Best UX Case Study Generators (and how to use them)
If you're looking for UX case study ideas, topics or challenges, these UX case study generators can help you create portfolio pieces and improve your UX/UI skills. Here are some of the best ones and the pros and cons of using them.
What is a case study generator?
A UX Case Study Generator is a tool that serves up hypothetical UX design project ideas, problems, challenges or exercises that you can complete on your own to practice your UX skills or use to create UX Case studies and projects for UX/UI portfolio.
UX Case Study Generators
1. UX Challenge
UX challenge provides prompts and exercises that allows you to practice your problem-solving skills and create one-off projects for your portfolio. The Challenges presented here have been created by UX Designer Yachin and are based on real-world problems.
You can browse through a few different industries or categories on the homepage and then view the details of the project brief.
With more than 15 millions prompts available, there are lots of UX/Product Design prompts to choose from. To start, click on 'Product/UX' and then Click ‘New Challenge’. If you like certain elements of the brief you can lock those in place and then click New Challenge again to regenerate the unlocked parts until you find something you like.
This fun arcade game-like interface lets you choose the level of difficulty and gives you a timer so that you can test your speed. While this tool doesn’t allow you to select a specific category, you can regenerate exercises until you find one that appeals to you.
4. UX Tools Challenges
If you need practice creating specific UX deliverables or applying certain user research methods this is a great option. You can browse through a number of UX prompt cards and click on a UX challenge to view a hypothetical scenario, instructions and tutorials on how to approach the challenges.
5. Uplabs Challenges
Uplabs hosts open design challenges that you can enter for prizes. They have deadlines in place and submissions are reviewed via voting. Check out their active listings to see on-going challenges and see the submission details and requirements. You can also view past challenges and try using them as practice on your for use as UX case study ideas.
100 Days of Product is a series of design challenges that help you learn to tackle specific problems that arise in UX and product design roles (such as running a design sprint) and prompts you to create deliverables around them. There is also a separate set of whiteboarding challenges that you can take in preparation for interviews.
Our Product Design course is home to one the best UX and Product Design case study creators you can find...yourself! You get to ideate on original concepts yourself from scratch, is completely unique, perfectly suited to who you are as a designer, shows your process and ensures you stand out from the crowd. You also get free access to our portfolio builder for Notion that has helped our students easily create product design case studies and land their dream roles!
UX Case Study Usage
There are 4 main ways we recommend applying these generator prompts and challenges based on your goals:
Option 1: Self-Practice - Use these as practice for yourself to develop your problem-solving skills, thinking on your toes, learning to manage your time and refining your workflow. You don’t need to show it in your portfolio but you can share it on social media and other places to get some feedback and get into the hang of doing projects and getting to know your own timing and process.
Option 2: UX Case Study Creation - Use these for your UX portfolio to create UX case studies . Give yourself a deadline, deliberately choose a project and document the process as you go. Be mindful of the projects you choose and make sure that they align with your own unique positioning as a designer and with the opportunities you want to attract.
Option 3: Whiteboard Challenge - Work on the prompts in 45 min sessions using a whiteboard like Figjam to show and tell your process. Record your screen so that you can replay it and share it with others for critique. This video could even be an incredible addition to your portfolio to showcase how you think and solve problems on the fly.
Option 4: Take-home Exercise - To simulate an interview take-home challenge or test, you can tackle a prompt or brief over the course of 8-10 hours.
Pros and Cons of Using UX Case Study Generators
There a few pros and cons about using case study generators that you should know about:
If you can do them, so can everyone else
Firstly, remember that if you have access to these design challenges and briefs so do all the other designers. That means that there is a good chance your work might end up looking similar to their work if you’re not careful. If you want to stand out, try customizing the prompts and challenges and adding your own unique spin.
Treat them as real UX projects
If you plan to feature these UX case studies in your portfolio, make sure to treat them as real UX projects; not just hypothetical exercises. Conduct actual research, analyze your findings and document your process. This will go a long way in helping you differentiate yourself from those that simply complete the challenge at face value.
Not consider real-world experience
Keep in mind that these generated UX case study projects and prompts are not considered 'real-world or ‘real- work experience’ by employers, but rather self-directed projects. They are a good first step for new UX designers to start practicing their problem solving skills on their own and refining their UX design process, but you'll have to go the extra mile if you want to use them in your portfolio to impress during interviews.
Choose the right one
If you are looking to use these ideas as UX Case studies in your portfolio, I reccomend reading this article on how to choose which case studies you should do and how to Create a Magnetic UX Case Study that will actually get you noticed and hired.
Move into doing real projects
These projects are also no substitute for doing real-world projects such as things you design and build yourself, freelance jobs, client work or open-source projects. Generated prompts and challenges cannot introduce the ambiguity of business requirements, changing stakeholder needs and team dynamics that are most sought after in a hirable UX designer. So think of these as a stepping to help you jump into the real thing as soon as possible. Here are some examples of stellar UX/UI and Product Design portfolios that we love!
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UX Case Study Template
Carex is a UX Case Study Template made to help UX Designers create and organize their case study without any struggle. It covers almost all the UX research processes and methods making it easier for designers to build and enhance their projects.
The contents in the template are created as easily editable components so that the designers can build their projects efficiently.
-Objectives & Goals
-Features & Functionalities
-Product User Challenges
-Eisen Hover Matrix
-5 Why Analysis
-Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
We are working on further updates to enhance this template with more variations. Your support motivates us to create more.
Leave a like and feedback if you enjoyed our product.
UX Case Study Guide
Case studies can often feel like a hefty, impenetrable task. Where do you even start? Compressing, structuring, and organizing a few weeks or even months of work in a few hundred words can be quite challenging to many of us.
Fortunately, creating one isn’t really that complicated once you’ve learned the basics—and this is precisely what this article is all about.
Read on to learn about the purpose of a case study and how you should go about creating one. Also, we’ll take a closer look at some valuable tips to get you through your first case study that’ll safeguard you from the most common pitfalls.
UX Case Studies
Take a look at the UX case studies we've created.
Okay, so what are case studies?
Basically, a case study is an in-depth exploration of the decision-making of a person or group of people. The idea behind them is to document the subject’s actions in a particular setting and analyze their behavior and choices.
When writing one, think of yourself as a protagonist in a story or novel. While this may sound somewhat pompous to some, it’s actually a helpful approach to take when creating a case study, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
First off, the point of a case study is to present your thought process and reasoning skills within your field of expertise. While most projects are undoubtedly different, they all have relatively similar phases they go through—the same goes for the types of decisions you make throughout these phases. Being descriptive and analytical about the types of issues you’ve faced as a designer and the solutions you’ve come across is an awesome way of showcasing your skills.
Secondly, storytelling is an extremely powerful persuasion tool—and there’s an extensive body of research to support these claims. People are passionate about stories. We empathize with the characters in the novels we read and the movies we see, to a point where we can drop an occasional tear once in a while. We’ve never seen or known these people, but we still happen to care.
Well, this is all fine and dandy, but why even create a case study in the first place?
What might you need them for?
Case studies are a great way of outlining your qualities as a designer and decision-maker. However, these documents can take a wide array of shapes and sizes.
Designers will often create case studies to showcase their creativity, analytical skills, quantitative reasoning skills, and communication skills during job interviews.
On the other hand, design firms or agencies typically create them to highlight the quality of the services delivered and the impact that they had on the client’s bottom line, market share, or overall success.
What does a UX case study include?
Before discussing structure, we’d like to mention that when working on the first of your case study, don’t focus on length too much. Later, you’ll have the opportunity to trim things down with some visual support. But for now, be as descriptive as you can be with the information that’s relevant to your input in the project at hand. Alright, let’s talk about structure.
1. Outline the task at hand
The purpose of the outline is to provide your reader with a “big picture” understanding of the project. Typically, this section should be fairly brief—think of it as a really quick onboarding.
Here’s a fictitious example:
Project title: Headspace App Redesign
Problem: The Headspace app is continuously losing engagement from its users. Their main areas of concern are:
High uninstall rates
Solution: Rethink Headspace’s content strategy. Design better push notifications. Gamify the experience to create long-lasting meditation streaks.
2. Highlight your role and the process
This section gives you the chance to expand on how you or your team has planned on delivering the solutions outlined above and what your personal contribution was in the grand scheme of things.
For instance, you can state that your responsibilities on this project predominantly revolved around interaction design and visual design.
Then, you can follow it up with a process outline that allows you to highlight the quality of your decision-making. Ideally, the process should abide by modern industry standards.
3. Expand on the outcomes
It’s always a great idea to focus on hard numbers when speaking about outcomes. Of course, the quality of your design will play a significant role in how your work will be appreciated, but at the same time, the people reviewing your case studies are organizations or clients that need solid results. The more specific you can get about the impact your design has had on the clients’ bottom line, the better.
Here are a few examples of outcomes that we’ve presented in some of our case studies:
78% increase in conversion rates. Thanks to better usability, the schools are a lot more likely to upgrade their trial accounts and become paying customers.
4x increase in perceived value. Good-looking apps look more trustworthy and valuable, which is why we’ve invested our time in creating a modern and sleek interface.
Acquisition of new clients. Based on new tailored features and interactive prototypes, we helped acquire big Governmental and Corporate clients.
Reduced costs by 3x: Increased developers’ efficiency and reduced costs by having a user-centered design approach.
It’s always best to focus on actual numbers rather than arbitrary improvements. Your viewpoint as a designer is quite different from a client who probably has a different background and different goals in mind. By sticking with hard numbers, you’ll be able to accentuate the objective value your team or yourself can produce.
Tips for writing a great case study
On the surface, writing a case study may appear simple. I mean, a project outline, the process, and the outcome—nothing complicated there. That’s only partly true. The hard part is creating an impactful and engaging case study. Below, you’ll find some useful recommendations to make your project overview captivating and legible.
We mentioned storytelling above, and we’re going to do it again. Yes, storytelling is an incredibly overlooked part of creating a case study. Your goal here is to be descriptive—you want to get your readers to empathize with you. You want them to feel what you felt at the beginning of the project. Don’t hesitate to create some dramatic tension where you can (but don’t go overboard).
Given that you don’t get too excited with the dramatic tension, you should think of a very clear and easy-to-scan structure for your case study. The person reading it should have a clear understanding of what section they’re reading at all times.
Use bullet points where you can. They help organize the text, make the information much more accessible , and provide your case study with clear information architecture.
Avoid large blocks of text
This is critical. There’s nothing more dissuading than a wall of text with no paragraphs. You’ve probably been there as well, reading something mildly interesting where you see a 20-line paragraph, thinking to yourself “Nah.”
Typically, it’s a good idea to keep your paragraphs up to 5 lines in length, but in a case study, it’s reasonable to even go with less.
Add visuals where you can
Remember the wall of text we mentioned above? That applies to content that doesn’t have visual support as well. There are many reasons why you’d want to include some images in your case study, but the most important ones are:
After all, this is a highlight of your design skills;
You’re providing visual support to your storytelling, making it more compelling and captivating;
You make the text much more accessible by watering down all that text with some media while allows the eyes to rest a bit;
Pet projects work too
Case studies don’t necessarily have to be about “Headspace-tier” redesigns. Feel free to write one about a pet project of yours—the most important part here is highlighting your thought process between a problem and a solution.
Even if you can’t code, you can still showcase, come up with an idea, validate it, and come up with a UX solution. These ideas or problems don’t have to be anything too drastic either. We would suggest picking a struggle that you yourself are dealing with so that you have some insight into it right off the bat.
Check out the links below for inspiration:
The bottom line
By following the steps above, you’ll be able to knock out an awesome case study while also avoiding the most common pitfalls first-timers face. However, bear in mind that case studies have a wide array of purposes, and you should always adjust them to your particular needs.
Adam Fard . Founder
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Interviewing UX/UI Designers: what's an appropriate case study assignment?
I'm helping craft the new interview structure for a UI/UX Designer and want to make sure the case study requirements are inclusive and dont prevent canidates from continuing in the interview process due to time or resource barriers
I'm against case study assignments that ask canidates to design something for the company they're interviewing for. I dont want anyone to ever feel they're being asked to do free work.
If you're a UX/UI designer or are on a hiring panel for one, what are case study assignments you've provided and how have you communicated the investment expectations from canidates?