Let’s be brutally honest about this:
We don’t have time to learn about our actual users and maximize the chances of success. We're assuming that we know what they want and then wonder why the product fails at a later stage.
That sounds awful. That's because it actually is. You do not want to find yourself in this kind of situation. And you will not if you follow the process.
This guide is exactly what you need to conduct user research to become your guiding star during the product development process.
Why is user research so important?
The term "user research" can be intimidating. It may appear that you don't have the budget, time, or expertise. That's why some people convince themselves that user search doesn't matter.
But this is a huge mistake.
Without user research, you'll waste your energy, time, and money on a product that is based on false assumptions that won't work in practice.
How to conduct a user research
Never forget – you are not your user. This is why you need proper user research to understand your user’s problems, pain points, needs, desires, feelings, and behaviors. Let's break down the process.
Define research objectives
Before you meet your target users, you must first define why you are conducting the research in the first place.
Establish specific goals and agree on your exact priorities with your team. This will make it much easier to gain valuable insights. Otherwise, your findings will be disorganized.
Here are some questions that will help you to define your objectives:
- What do you want to learn?
- What are the knowledge gaps you must fill?
- What already works and what doesn't?
- Is there an issue that needs to be addressed? What exactly is the issue?
- What will the research mean for your company and/or your customers?
Once you've started answering questions like these, it's time to create a list of goals. These should be precise and simple.
It's better if you prioritize your objectives and create a Notion table. It will come in handy later.
A useful exercise for you to do at this stage is to write down some hypotheses about your target users. Ask yourself:
What do we think we understand about our users that is relevant to our business or product?
When you're finished, validate every statement, need, and desire with real people.
It's a quick and easy way to generate questions for some of the research methods you'll be employing.
Pick your methods
Here is the key question you should be asking yourself at this point:
What methods should we choose based on our time and resources?
It is critical to select the appropriate method at the appropriate time. We'll go into greater detail on specific methods. For the time being, let's take a quick look at the categories available.
The WHY — qualitative methods
Qualitative research tells you ‘why’ something occurs. It tells you the reasons behind the behavior, the problem or the desire. It answers questions like:
“Why do you prefer using app X instead of other similar apps?”
“What’s the hardest part about being a sales manager? Why?”.
Qualitative data comes in the form of actual insights and it’s fairly easy to understand.
The WHAT — quantitative methods
Quantitative research helps you to understand what is happening by providing different metrics.
It answers questions such as:
“What percentage of users left their shopping cart without completing the purchase?”
“Is it better to have a big or small subscription button?”.
Most quantitative methods come in handy when testing your product, but not so much when you’re researching your users. This is because they don’t tell you why particular trends or patterns occur.
Behavioral and attitudinal methods
There is a big difference between “what people do” and “what people say”.
As their names imply, attitudinal research is used to understand or measure attitudes and beliefs, whereas behavioral research is used to measure and observe behaviors.
In general, if your objectives are specific enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to see which methods will help you achieve them.
Let's go back to our Notion table. Choose a method or two that will fulfill each objective and type it in the column beside it.
It won’t always be possible to complete everything you’ve written down. If this is the case, go with the method(s) that will give you most of the answers. With your table, it will be easy to pick and choose the most effective options for you.
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