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Creative ways to conduct User Research

Most startups start as founders scratching their itch. With a bit of feedback from friends and family, we get a team together and start building.

But 9 out of 10 startups fail within the first 2 years. Often this is because we build for too long after that first encouraging feedback. By the time the product hits the market, we have invested way too much in something that the world might like as an idea but won’t buy.

Furthermore, for established products, it is estimated that roughly 40% of features are used by less than 1% of users and become deadwood that is eventually scrapped.

Continuous user research is the antidote to both situations. Put simply: whatever you build, some user feedback before, during, and after will go a long way towards avoiding over-engineering and later frustration at lack of uptick.

But most startups lose their way and do not conduct enough user research. Often the people involved would cite a lack of resources, time, and infrastructure.

User Research doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Here are four creative ways to conduct just enough and just in time user research without breaking the bank:

Guerilla testing

→ Bring your prototype to the nearest Cafe and buy some people a coffee and show your prototype to them and get their feedback

→ Post some screenshots of your prototype on social media and ask what people think

Build-in public

→ Share your early work in progress and why you think it might be useful, see how people react.

→ Run a little poll on social media

Release an experimental feature

→ Build the bare minimum of the feature and release it to some or all of your users and watch the analytics

→ Remove the experimental feature and see if people complain or ask for it back

Advocate against your feature

→ On social media or with a handful of people, describe your feature as succinctly as possible, and share why you think it won’t work, but leave it open with, “we’re not sure yet, what do you think?”

→ Share the prototype/sketch, and share why you’re not going to do it unless people think it’s a good idea… Ask them if they do.

These ideas won’t work for every product or company and are not a replacement for well-conducted user research led by the right people. But compared to not getting any feedback at all, they do make a huge difference.

Try them and tell me what you think! What works for you? Do you have other creative user research ideas?



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Founder of https://epekworks.com — passionate about products and people, and helping them live meaningfully and well.