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A quick introduction to UX Research

May 11, 2015 · 3 min read

User research is quickly becoming an essential part of every product team’s toolkit. But but the barrier for entry is often high for a lot of teams, because of the perceived complexity of research, and the DIY nature of the process.

The benefits that teams see from building user research into their product development process is massive — it dramatically improves the value and usefulness for your users, and in turn increases the likelihood your products and projects will succeed.

In an effort to make user research more accessible for all design teams, we want to provide some simple tools and instructions to help anyone get started running user research on their products and projects today.

An overview of the user research process

Below we have outlined the typical phases and activities you will go through when running user research.

1. Make a plan

  • Define your audience — write out the criteria you are looking for in your participants, focused more on needs and behavioural criteria, as opposed to demographics
  • Choose a research method — based on your learning objectives and audience, determine the best method of research for your needs — interview-focused vs. screen-based, in-person vs. remote, interview vs. activity, etc.

2. Recruit participants

  • Recruit participants — reach out to existing users, or find participants with through Craigslist, depending on what type of participant you are looking for
  • Schedule sessions — book time slots with your participants and team using a shared calendar tool like Powwow. Try to book them over the course of one or two days

3. Conduct research

  • Run your sessions — typically 30 mins to an hour spent with each participant work through your discussion guide, and digging deeper on where you need to during the conversation
  • Identify insights, issues and important feedback — as you take notes during your sessions be sure to tag an feedback you feel could be important
  • Outline your learnings and next steps in a report — review your notes and outline the key learnings and immediate next steps that stood out for your team

4. Act on your learnings

  • Identify next steps — assign to-do’s based on what you learned in research so your team has clear next steps

I will go into more detail on all of these points in other posts, so hopefully this will give you a good sense of what the process looks like at a high level, and is a good starting point for further reading.

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