We hear it all the time. I believe in user research. I love doing user research. I want to be doing more user research, but for reason x, y, and especially z, it’s just not always in the cards. Similar to exercise, sometimes you just have to get dressed and make it happen. (Pro tip: pants required for good user interviews). But in the long-run, muscling through it can be easier said than done. Here are a few tips from folks trying to develop good research habits themselves.
We couldn’t agree more. Keeping the feedback cycle going internally is as important as getting feedback from users. Ask your colleagues what they learned to help show the value of research and inform future research projects, helping to build that pipeline of interviews. Virtuous cycles FTW.
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After each session, whether you’re working with colleagues or flying solo, take the time to recap what just happened. Was your hypothesis confirmed or challenged? Is a story or pattern starting to build around what users think? Given this, what should you do next? Update your interview guide or prototype presentation slightly to make the most of future sessions? Not only will you get better data for future analysis by taking a few moments at the end of each session to recap, but you’ll also make all your future sessions more productive by going into them with clear goals and next steps built iteratively as your sessions evolve. For this reason, and to avoid burnout, do yourself a favor and avoid back to back sessions. Allow at least 15-30 minutes between them.
The more research becomes a habit of more than one person, or one department, in a company, the more important it becomes to the culture. When it becomes embedded in the culture, it truly takes hold. Imagine if you were the only person checking email all day, maybe you would stop (maybe that would be a good thing). Organizations function around habits just like individuals do, and the more folks you’re surrounded by who are regularly doing research, the more good social pressure and approval you’ll experience to follow through on your own best intentions.
If you don’t already have a regular research schedule, developing one can be a great way to make research a regular habit. Just as you might schedule time each week for exercise, meditation, reflection, GSD, or other top priorities, let your calendar reflect your research values too! For my current goals and needs, I’ve set a monthly schedule of 1-2 participant interviews, 2-3 researcher interviews, and 3-4 demo sit ins each month to make regular customer feedback and listening an ongoing part of my role. I set a recurring Asana task for the first week of each month to set up those sessions (through User Interviews, of course), and then I’m good to go for the month. Set it, manage it for a few minutes, then forget it.
What are your top tips and obstacles for making research a regular habit? Let's take it to Twitter to keep the conversation going.
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