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When you design based on assumptions, you risk some (or even all) of those assumptions being wrong. User research is highly valuable both before and after designing a product, because it replaces assumptions with actual insight about your target audience.

Doing research before you start designing can help to ensure that your product and business goals match with the real needs of your customers. Continuing your research after creating the design, particularly with usability testing, can give you insights about whether or not your customers can actually use it.

Failing to conduct user research on your project can have big consequences. Consider the following two scenarios where user research is skipped. …

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When I was an undergrad, the local pub had an Arkanoid machine. I was playing it one night, and I kept failing on the same stage towards the end of the game. For whatever reason, I decided that I was going to beat that level, no matter what happened.

I kept playing, and everything around me started to fade into the background. People came and went, but I was oblivious to it. …

Running a survey is a quick and relatively easy way to get data about your users. But it’s also easy to create a survey that lies to you, and hard to know when that is. Even if you know the data from a survey is wonky, the results still have a way of digging into your brain.

In today’s post I’m going to detail some ways to write better surveys that engage users and provide more reliable data.

Writing the questions

This is the most important part. You have to write good questions to get reliable answers. Bad questions lead to bad data.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of questions that you can ask in a survey: open and closed. …


UX person, co-founder of ThinkUX (http://thinkux.ca)

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