User Research Results

I’m not sure how to write this post. How do I sum up so many interviews that went so well? How do I give back in an equally helpful, and human, way?

On March 30th, I wrote a post explaining what Hack It Hour does.

On April 12th, I wrote about user research methods.

On April 20th, I wrote about Hack It Hour’s primary user research method.

On April 29th, I wrote about exactly how to conduct a user interview.

I made a decision in March to take the entire month of April to conduct user research to see if I was building something that my users would want to use. I was going to use Twitter and Instagram to reach out to designers, developers, and design and development companies and publications to participate in my research.

Twitter vs. Instagram

DM (Direct message): 16 (Twitter) | 21 (Instagram)

DM replies: 13 (Twitter) | 10 (Instagram)

DM interviews: 1 (Twitter) | 0 (Instagram)

Emailed interview questions: 4 (Twitter) | 4 (Instagram)

Emailed interview questions completed: 1 (Twitter) | 0 (Instagram)

Facebook interviews: 0 (Twitter) | 1 (Instagram)

Video interview conducted: 3 (Twitter) | 4 (Instagram)

Interview scheduled after this post: 2 (Twitter) | 0 (Instagram)

Would be interested at a later time: 1 (Twitter) | 0 (Instagram)

No time: 2 (Twitter) | 0 (Instagram)

I turned away: 0 (Twitter) | 4 (Instagram)

My lack of follow-through: 0 (Twitter) | 1 (Instagram)

*If I have more specific data is you’d like, feel free to reach out to me @chrisjohnsoct on Twitter or email me at johnsoctbus@gmail.com.

Summarize

  1. Designers are 85% likely to respond to your messages.
  2. Developers are 60% likely to respond to your messages, which is UPSETTING, FELLOW DEVELOPERS. That is all.
  3. Companies and publications are 33% likely to respond to you; however, this will vary with the size of your social presence.
  4. I worked at building a relationship with a CEO I admire months before I began user research, so the one CEO I reached out to happily agreed to an interview, which puts CEOs at 100% likely to respond. Score?
  5. Emails are 14% likely to be responded to.
  6. Designers are just as equally reliable on Twitter as Instagram.
  7. Developers are much more reliable on Twitter.
  8. When someone says they don’t have time for a video interview, but email would work — you can let them know that doing an interview via email takes almost TWICE as long as doing a 30 minute interview.

What I Learned

Validation

Most of my interviews went like this:

  1. I started with a few easy, ice-breaking demographic questions
  2. followed by eight questions that were all about who I was interviewing and what they valued,
  3. but the last question was to validate my product.

Do not validate! Validation is “wrong, very wrong indeed boys” (Mr. Weasley, Harry Potter). Validation is too difficult to accurately get, because people are naturally more agreeable during an interview, which means you’re more likely to hear that your product is great and useful instead of “I just don’t think I’d use that.”

However, I’ll admit I knew that validation was wrong before I began, but I also made sure that those eight questions would suffice in gathering the information I needed to build a product, centered on my idea, that would satisfy the needs of my users.

Listening

I use to think that building a product must be really difficult, but it’s not. It’s tough work, sure, but all you have to do is talk and listen to people to define what you need to build.

All products have to satisfy something. The something could be a missing link, a developing need among a certain people, or a dying product no longer satisfying its users’ needs. The something just has to be real and not just in your head. Your something needs to come from your users.

Don’t speak, just listen. Ask your questions, and shut up. Let them speak. Let them ramble. Sure, help them along and ask your follow-up questions, but you’re there to listen.

Gift of Users

Who knew that talking to your users could be so rewarding. I feel honored to have spoke to some of these people. I want to leave them each a little note here:

Abby Burkhalter — Developer

  • Abby and I spent time at IU doing labs together in Informatics back when we both sucked at coding. Abby, you were my first interview and you really set the tone for how much I could learn from speaking with my users. You barely had any free time, but you gave me 20 minutes anyways! I really, really appreciate it, because I may have decided not to do so many interviews if it wasn’t for you.

Sarah Gustafson — Designer

  • Where to begin? Sarah is a friend, a student at Purdue University, and an amazing jazz vocalist. She was just accepted into Purdue’s Industrial Design Professional Program. Congratulations! I told you during our interview that I think you have so much potential and I’m incredibly impressed and grateful to get to speak with you. You have so much more talent and understanding than others your age and with your experience, you will truly be a force to reckon with. Thank you for your amazing interview!

Alec Jones (Christopherbot.co) — Developer

  • At the age of 14, Alec built a fully functioning bot with Facebook’s Messenger app. Dude, you had a problem, knew others did too, and built something that solved it. That’s what we do as creators and you figured it out at 14! There is no doubt in the world that you’re going somewhere. Thank you for being the only person to respond to an email :D

Mikaela Caron (Purdue (dual major) Student)— Software Engineering & Robotics

  • Mikaela is a personal friend I’ve had classes with at Purdue, but after I dropped out, I’m pretty sure she picked up my slack by dual majoring in Mechatronics and Robotics with a minor in Computer Information Technology! How does one do that? You’d have to ask her, lol. Mikaela, you’re intelligent, fun, ambitious, and definitely a hard-worker. It‘s an absolute pleasure to know and have you as a friend. Keep rocking on!

Loan-Laux — Full-stack JavaScript Developer

  • Loan is 21, a part-time student, and killing it as a freelancer. While scheduling the interview, he tells me, “I have time from X to Y, but I have a client call after that.” No problem, except we spoke much longer than expected and I’m pretty sure he was late for his call. Whoops. Loan, you raised many things to my attention and brought many ideas to the table all while giving me an insight to what life and education was like from where you live. I had no idea it was so vastly different from my experience, but then again, that’s what makes the world so interesting! Thank you for your time, man! Oh, he’s helped me like a hundred times since our interview.

Erin Flynn — Consultant

  • Erin and I talked for quite awhile and this was the first time I had met her. She is a consultant for web designers and developers as well as a digital strategist. You could say she’s pretty good at what she does, because she’s been doing it for 18 years! Erin, you’re not old, I promise, but you had more experience than anyone I’ve interviewed, which was so obvious in how well detailed and natural you answered my questions. Since meeting, I’ve been following your content and it’s really good! I hope you continue to go where you want! See you in Colorado! Thank you!

Jasmine Anteunis-Co-founder of RecastAI, Designer, Developer

  • So, I was looking into a project I wanted to build and I was looking for frameworks, tools, etc., that would make this project easier and RecastAI reached out to me (great marketing) just letting me know of what they did. This led me to reaching out to them via Direct Message for the possibility of an interview. Funny story, I was so busy when I scheduled my interview with Jasmine I didn’t realize she was a co-founder of RecastAI until I was writing up notes after her interview. Jasmine, I think that says a lot about you and RecastAI. It’s not everyday that a co-founder responds directly to tweets from users. On top of that, you didn’t mention you were the X or Y of Recast; you just began helping me! I hadn’t interviewed a product owner before, let alone spoken to one personally, so you brought insight into the higher reasoning behind what and why designers and developers do what they do. Also, I love that you’re a bookworm! They’re great, aren’t they? Oh, I ordered UX Strategy at your recommendation!

Alexandru Acea — Creator, Designer, Developer

  • Alex, it’s not that I don’t value your input on the other questions, but you were so detailed in my questions related to education, which I didn’t get from everyone! For example, you went into great detail about why YouTube is your go to source of education and also why it sometimes falls short! This is very, very valuable information. It will have a place in my MVP, and most likely, my final product. Thank you for your time and great interview on Facebook!

Maryam Zai — Masters in Information Systems and Design, UX/UI Designer

  • Even with your shorter time in the profession, you had the absolute best answers in the details of UX. You went into clear, specific details on what you thought the most important focus of UX is, how you research user problems, building products for others, and the importance of user research. You’ve continued to be reachable and reliable even after our interview and that’s awesome! Thank you!

Hannah Milan — Designer

  • Hannah, I must have done something right in our interview, because you invited me to a community of UX designers on Slack, which is huge! I’m so incredibly impressed by your knowledge and passion for your profession. Now, please understand where I’m coming from, here — being an American, it’s easy to forget that we’re not the only ones with talent and big dreams. It’s naive, but it’s almost as if Americans are raised and educated to be self-centered in a lot of aspects. We’re told we’re the best and that this is the place to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being an American; however, I’m so incredibly pleased that you’ve shown me that talent is everywhere and isn’t dictated by location or some stupid birthright. I’m positive you’re going to go far and I hope you continue to grow and become an amazing designer! Thank you!

What Now

The research doesn’t stop, that’s for certain. I gained too much valuable information and I know that my users will change with time, so I want to keep up with their tastes and needs to produce the best product for them.

If you take anything away from this series, let it be:

  1. Talk to your users
  2. Listen when they speak
  3. Build what they need
  4. Do it all again

Well, thanks guys! It’s been an awesome six weeks conducting this research and building the results. I’m one hundred percent sure Hack It Hour is on an even better path than before.

Chris Johnson, Frontend developer and CEO of Hack It Hour

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