Now available: Design for Impact by Erin Weigel

Analyzing the Research Behind User Research

Without user research, you risk designing ideas that users don’t want.

Let’s be honest:  many organizations don’t know how to successfully do user research. Too often research gets treated like an item to knock off a checklist just before products get shipped out. Or it’s skipped altogether because “there’s just no time.” Even with good intentions, the lack of in-house expertise can stymie us. We end up conducting focus groups. Or approaching strangers in Starbucks–asking them how much they’d pay for our new product.

We researchers, designers, and product managers want to understand what makes great products that customers will buy, use and recommend to friends. But without research, this can feel impossible.

This is such a pervasive pain point that Rosenfeld Media has made user research the topic of our next virtual conference: User Research for Everyone. The goal: to help you figure out how to build a team that is excited about research and empower it with the tools to make research useful.

Before designing the program, I helped Lou conduct some research (obviously). Research on user research–yep, pretty meta. Almost 200 of you weighed in and told us the areas you struggle with most, and who you most want to learn from. The responses clustered nicely into six prevailing topics:

“How do I convince people research is important?”

Convincing leaders and teams to see the value of user research is the top question you submitted. We agree. Research works when everybody is on board, but making people care is challenging. Especially if you work in a large organization and need to persuade multiple stakeholders with competing agendas.


“How do I turn this research into better products?”

We’re often told to get out of the building and talk to users, but that can create a five-story pile of research. Distilling and choosing the right insights to inform product decisions is time consuming and daunting.


“How do I make sure everybody understands the research?”

Research can only inform design decisions if everybody on the team understands (and agrees on) the results. How many of you have created a 30-page deck that nobody ever looks at? Many of you said you’re eager to discover more compelling ways to share and evangelize research that people want to absorb and use.


“How can we do this faster and cheaper?”

Most of you face real budget or time constraints–making research seem like a pipe dream. But it doesn’t have to stop us from learning from users. A lot of respondents want techniques for doing remote research to cut costs, or to shorten the timeframe to work better in an agile environment. Luckily, there are a lot of tools and tactics available these days to help make good research achievable and affordable for any budget.


“How do I pick which research to do?”

Many of you have difficulty picking the right methodology to answer your questions. Even experienced researchers can struggle to understand how to incorporate quantitative data into the research process. Many of you request better frameworks for deciding which research to do when.


“How do I get more participants?”

Even when you’ve got a good understanding of who your users are, there’s still the challenge of getting them to talk to you. This can be especially tough when you’re in the early days of a product development and don’t yet have real users. In established companies, you need to coax sales or marketing people to let you talk to customers. There are better ways to reach the right users without resorting to begging or bribery.


Getting to Answers

Join us on October 11, where we’ll tackle these important questions with the experts you requested most: Abby Covert, Steve Krug, Erika Hall, Nate Bolt, Leah Buley, Cindy Alvarez, Julie Stanford and me (as moderator). The program includes opportunities with every expert–so you can ask your most top-of-mind questions.

Buy a ticket for yourself–or your team and build the user research toolkit you’ve wanted. Your ticket also gives you unlimited access to downloads and replays of the full program in case you can’t make it.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. Hope to see you there! And hit us up with any questions and thoughts below.

Laura Klein is a Lean UX and Research expert in Silicon Valley who teaches companies how to get to know their users and build products people will love. She’s a Rosenfeld Media expert and author of UX for Lean Startups (O’Reilly). Her newest book, Build Better Products, comes out in late 2016. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog and podcast at Users Know.