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User Research: Our Hero


"Get the Most Out of User Research"


This article starts out with an interesting perspective: user research is our hero. It provides all of our answers and is essential for creating optimal solutions to human problems. The author goes on to describe the purpose of a user research goal, which is to provide direction for the research. A goal is a concept that sometimes seems slippery and amorphous. To someone just starting out, it feels like something that is easy to get wrong — it can go too far or not far enough, or in the wrong direction altogether. But then the author provides an easy description of this type of goal: "What I need to do is ask a question that can be answered through user research. Something concrete that can lead to an outcome that is actionable.” Actionable is a key word — what is the point of stockpiling research and data without being able to do anything with it? It becomes about employing the right user research (quantitative vs. qualitative), in order to find the information that will actually help achieve the defined goal. This article skips over the part about actually coming up with the right questions (he relies on a research expert, so maybe that makes sense) and delves right into the importance of observing and recording. There are details about running a session, and details about capturing information, but the critical point is to show up. Be there, write things down, and write them down immediately — you cannot count on your memory to keep track of important moments. The end of the session is not really the end of anything, it is simply the part where everyone comes together to analyze what happened and what findings exist. There are no answers, only educated assumptions that provide a foundation for the next step. This was the interesting part to me — what feels like an answer is just something else to test, to prove or disprove.