User Research - Fascinating Detective Work 🕵🏽‍♀️

May 1, 2023

What is User research? Sticking and poking until you find essential information that makes you go - “AHA!”. It also involves detective work, going to the source (the users), asking them questions, and observing their behaviour, needs, and motivations using different detective (observation) techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.

User research is the methodic study of target users — including their needs and pain points — so designers have the sharpest possible insights to work with to make the best designs. User researchers use various methods to expose problems and design opportunities, and find crucial information to use in their design process. — Interaction Design Foundation
Poke here, poke there, and new insights reveal themselves. - Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Why is User research so interesting to you Nikoleta? Well, well, how can I put it? You see, we come again to the concept of diving into the unknown chaos of all types of data and information, creating a structure (framework) based on our goals and what we are specifically looking for. And then gathering and synthesising the clues and evidence into one document of truth that further on we can use as our guide into later design process stages.

What a simple user research might look like then? It may look something like this:

  • Define your learning goals for the research. Use that to determine your right “suspects” (Ahem, users).
  • Determine if you need to interact with existing or target users — a good practice is for new features of your existing product to talk to existing users, for an out-of-the-box perspective on a brand new feature or product is to talk to your target users
  • Create a simple screener survey and identify and filter out people who will give you variety and relevance of insight. But don’t go overboard with it. Keep it simple.
  • Share your survey with a list of “suspects” you manage or use a third-party service or platform.
  • Contact 5 people to set up in-person or remote sessions with the relevant guidance, web meeting links, etc. A second round might be needed as well if you get a couple of no-shows or you didn’t get the insights you were looking for. Don’t be afraid to repeat the process once again.
  • Shorten the timeframe of sessions so you can focus, build momentum, and get to action faster.

And now, what is left is to prepare! Prepare a guide for how you want your sessions to look, open and closing, the type of questions you want to ask, and the hypothesis you want to test. Have a cheat sheet reminding you how to have an effective session. Review the input and share your results!

For now, that’s the big picture of how a variety of user research might look like, and more specifically the one including user interviews. And let’s be honest, that’s the fun part, talking to the users and observing them.

Key takeaways:

  • Keep it simple
  • Be organised
  • Prepare and plan
  • Freshly synthesise the insights after your sessions
  • Share your progress to keep other team members excited and onboard
  • Create a timeline and try to keep up with it

P.S. If you want to be part of my curious journey, you can find me on also on Instagram and LinkedIn (Nikoleta Angelova).

And always stay curious! 😊

Want to collaborate?
Send me a message!

Currently available for collaborations.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.