User research helps gain insight into user needs and behaviors to inform product decisions.
Product teams can use user research to make product choices, such as if something is valuable, features, how users interact with the product, and how the product looks. User research validates if an idea is correct and finds out what users want that the product team may have missed.
Following these three simple steps, product teams can conduct user research to inform their decisions and build better products.
- Understand the objective and goal.
- Evaluate and choose a research method.
- Synthesize findings into user insights.
1. Understand the objective and goal.
To do user research well, product teams should begin by asking questions to determine the product’s goal and purpose. Questions like these can help:
- What is the product trying to accomplish?
- Who are the users, and what are their needs?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
Product teams can use these questions to decide what their product should do and what they are aiming for and help them decide how to research with users and the information they get.
2. Evaluate and choose a research method.
When a product team is doing user research, it’s essential to think about the product’s particular needs and the team’s goals. It’s essential to pick the right user research method; each has its pros and cons, so the product team should consider their needs when choosing one.
Before jumping into the different methods of user research, there are two types of user research to be aware of:
- Qualitative user research is a way of discovering more about how users think, feel, and act. It involves asking users questions, doing surveys, and observing them while they use a product.
- Quantitative user research collects data and measures how users behave, what they like, and how they respond. Examples of quantitative research methods are surveys, analytics, and usability testing.
The most common user research methods include:
- User Interviews
- User Testing
1. User Interviews
- User interviews allow us to ask users questions without a set answer, allowing us to explore and learn more than what we can learn from surveys.
- They can discover more about what users need and do, often discovering unexpected or important problems.
- They help build relationships with users and get their opinion.
- User interviews take more time and cost more money than other methods.
- Finding people to represent a group of users can be challenging.
- Product teams need more resources, like transcribing the interviews and studying the data, which can be tough if they need more resources.
Type: Qualitative and Quantitative
- Surveys can gather lots of information quickly and easily.
- They are not expensive, and it’s easy to make them.
- Surveys gather numbers that help us understand how people act and what they like.
- Surveys can only ask certain questions, and the answers can be simple enough.
- They are more difficult to analyze and interpret than open-ended methods such as interviews.
- The responses can be biased if the survey questions need to be corrected.
3. User Testing
- Product teams can watch users use their product live and get useful feedback and ideas.
- It can also allow us to watch how people act, which can be hard to get information about with surveys or talking to them.
- User testing needs more time and money than other data collection methods, like finding people to test and running the tests.
- Analyzing data from user testing is harder because it is usually in a qualitative form.
- Getting reliable results can be hard when you only have a few samples.
- Analytics can provide large amounts of data quickly and easily.
- It can give us a broader view of how users behave and interact with the product.
- It can validate qualitative data by providing quantitative evidence.
- Analytics alone can’t tell us why users act the way they do.
- Analytics can be biased if the data is not collected properly.
- It can be difficult to interpret the data if you don’t have experience with analytics.
Choose a method, and product teams can collect user data and insights. It is important to remember that most user research is qualitative so that the team will interpret the data in the context of the user’s needs and motivations. Analytics is quantitive and can round out and validate qualitative feedback, but it should only be partially relied upon.
3. Synthesize findings into user insights.
Create user insights by analytically thinking and interpreting data regarding user needs and behaviors. After getting information and understanding from users, the product team can combine the data into a clear explanation of user needs. And user insights that can help with product choices.
As a product team, figure out where you will put the data so everyone can get to it. Many tools can help, like Figjam, Notion, OneNote, Excel, and more. Once you decide, make sure everyone knows.
How to Synthesize
- Look for patterns, recurring themes, and trends in the data.
- Organize and group these findings into categories.
- From there, you can conclude and identify user needs and motivations.
- From the identified needs and motivations, create actionable insights.
User research is a way of learning what users want and do. Product teams should first decide what they want their product to do and then pick the best user research method. Then they should look at the data they get from users and use it to help make product decisions.
After you understand how to do user research and find user insights, you should know what to do next. The next steps are to think of ideas that could work with those insights, make guesses (or assumptions) about what could work, and test those guesses to see if they work.