User Research - Overview

Bite-sized notes from a user research talk

Jan 26, 2021 • • 🍿 2 min. read in design

I took part in a really good session on user research and interview techniques at UXUp presented by the wonderful Benjamin Parry, who presented an overview of User Research, some interview techniques, followed by an interview breakout session.

While this is more than a short blog post can cover, I thought I'd summarise my notes in bite-sized form - all errors are mine :)

Part 1: an overview below, and part 2 is interview question tips.

What is User Research?

User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.
This field of research aims at improving the usability of products by incorporating experimental and observational research methods to guide the design, development, and refinement of a product.
User researchers often work alongside designers, engineers, and programmers in all stages of product creation and idealization.

Part 1: User Research overview

  • Similar to the design double diamond, user research can broadly be divided into two halves: generative (exploring the problem space) and evaluative exploring the solution space.

Generative Research

  • Generative is not about the solution, but about people and their problems. This is where you spot opportunities for innovation.
  • You might do things like stakeholder interviews, customer interviews, competitor analysis, diary studies, journey mapping, personas.
  • Broadly it is 'design the right thing' (and finding out what that is)

Evaluative Research

  • Evaluative is when you know what you are making, and need to assess its value and utility.
  • You might do things like customer interviews, usability tests, iterative tests, card sorting, analytics, A/B or MVT Tests.
    -Broadly it is 'Design the thing right' (testing your assumptions)

Phases of Research

As you move across the research spectrum, you move from "could be/don't know" to "Should be/do know".

  1. Discover Phase - Research: What is the problem?
  2. Define Phase - Synthesis: This is the problem!
  3. Develop Phase - Ideation: What are the Solutions?
  4. Deliver Phase - Implementation: This is the Solution!

Getting buy-in for User Research

If you are having a hard time getting buy-in for user research in your organisation, do one small thing for yourself to satisfy your curiosity and share your findings. Show the value.

(Very much a case of Show don't Tell I think - people have to have that a-ha moment for themselves).

Check out part 2: User Interview Question Tips.

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