PRODUCTHEAD: The what, why and how of user research
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Posted on Monday, 15 February 2021
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User research needs to be proactive as well as reactive validation
Some research techniques are more useful than others at different stages
You must safeguard the welfare of your user research participants
There are many ways to recruit participants for your research without outsourcing
Use a simple format for sharing research findings memorably
Some people call it user research. Some call it UX research. Either way, it is a crucial activity that somehow still seems to be pushed to the wayside.
Plenty of reasons. Some teams find themselves in organisations where delivery (building stuff) is more highly valued than research (figuring out what to build).
“We’re following Lean Startup methodology,” they say. “Build — measure — learn. We research by building.”
Sure, but that kind of learning is useful if you’re already in the right ballpark with your product and you’re validating and fine-tuning your approach. It’s pretty useless as an approach if you have no idea whether anyone even has the problem you’re trying to solve.
Other teams simply lack any experienced researchers to guide the team to find answers to their questions — or sometimes to point out what questions they should be asking, but aren’t.
Reading a few articles about good practices in user research certainly won’t turn you into an experienced user research overnight. But it will hopefully highlight how broad a topic it is, and how valuable a good user researcher will be to your team.
So this week, here are some good articles discussing the what, why and how of user research for you to mull over. (Then go and hire a user researcher, if you don’t already have one.)
Speak to you soon,
what to think about this week
Proactive UX research anticipates the critical user experience decisions that a team faces. This is in contrast to how most teams conduct their UX research today. Most teams react to questions that arise during the design process.
[JARED SPOOL / UIE]
At every stage in the design process, different UX methods can keep product-development efforts on the right track, in agreement with true user needs and not imaginary ones.
[SUSAN FARRELL / NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP]
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You are responsible for your participants’ wellbeing, for representing them honestly, and for keeping their personal information safe. That is a big responsibility, so it’s important to know what to consider when you plan to do user research so as to keep your project ethically sound.
[DITTE HVAS MORTENSEN / INTERACTION DESIGN FOUNDATION]
One thing is inevitable in user research — at some point you’re going to have to find some people to take part in it. Finding them isn’t always easy. It can be time consuming and generate a lot of admin overhead that gets in the way of our daily work, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
[ANIA MASTALERZ / MEDIUM]
I encourage all the teams I work with to have a what-we’ve-learned-about-our-users slot in the show and tell — or demo, showcase, or review — at the end of each sprint. To do this, I create a simple ‘findings’ slide deck. In this post, I’ll share how I make them.
[JOHN WATERWORTH / USER RESEARCH IN GOVERNMENT]
When faced with an overwhelming number of things you could be doing, all with good reasons for doing them, it can be tremendously hard to decide which to do, let alone which to do first.
Prioritization is all about deciding this as objectively and transparently as you can.
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
I am searching for a career change and Product Management/ Project Management are my areas of interest. I was looking to understand, based on your experience, if in such roles technical skills are required?
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
Starting a new product manager job can be daunting, particularly if you don’t change jobs very often. I work freelance, so I find myself in a new organisation roughly every 3–6 months. Let me share with you my tips for your first few months in a new role.
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
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