User Research is Overrated
Jonathan Courtney

Don’t get this the wrong way but by your title I was ready to read a total bash of the process of user research. So, good job on encouraging an emotional reaction from a reader like me with this title ;) I do get your point about the traditional, according to the books, way of up-front user research. The process is so nice and beautiful: you set up some interviews with users, you begin to understand them after every interview, your build empathy for their struggles, you feel one with the universe, you create beautiful persona slides, you create some journey maps, you create blah blah whatever book X tells you you need to create. All of this is great but, as you point out, doesn’t lead to anything concrete. I have shared these artifacts with product teams and their reactions are usually, “That’s interesting. Tell us how to fix it.” Having everyone on a team empathize and understand every user of the application is great in theory but I have never seen it in practice. What I usually get from the engineering and business teams is the question, “how is this supposed to work?” In the beginning of a project, a designer, including myself, doesn’t know. But this question is best answered by quick and constant design iterations and user testing.