Welcome. Thank you. I’m so, genuinely, glad you’re here. (I'm Erin May by the way.)
Here’s the thing about user research. It’s incredibly important, but it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Hear me out. I know it’s hard to find the time, and the budget, and manage the logistics, and do the recruiting, gather and analyze insights, run presentations, and the list goes on. Those things are hard and this field guide exists in large part to make those things a little easier.
What doesn’t need to be that hard is getting started, doing something instead of nothing, regularly practicing the bold act of actually talking to your users, customers, and would-be users and customers. In this day and age, couldn’t we all use a little more talking to each other?
If you read nothing else, and I really hope you WILL read something else, read this. If you are already humming along with a kickass research program, feel free to subscribe to more targeted chapters that suit your needs by clicking anywhere you see "Subscribe." Or just navigate to the Field Guide index and explore.
Without further ado, here are some well-loved tips among the UX research community to conduct effective user research and interviews. Consider this your MVR (minimum viable research) cheat sheet.
A professional researcher might do better interviews, but most people are capable of research that is good enough.
While qualitative research can be time consuming, the good news is you really only need to talk to about 5 people before you hit a point of diminishing returns in terms of insights. Of course that entirely hinges on finding the right people. This doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s where I subtly throw in that User Interviews makes all this that much easier and sometimes cheaper, but of course you can do this manually if you like. Google Sheets + Craigslist + Mail merge FTW!
This need not take more than 15 minutes or so for MVR. Don’t go into a session without a simple set of questions.
Below is a template you can use for early, discovery stage interviews.
You are a human, talking to another human. What an amazing opportunity to get permission to connect with someone you wouldn’t otherwise. Be warm, be authentic, be yourself, just don’t get toooo chummy or start influencing the participant’s ideas with your own enthusiasm. Be a professional.
Don’t let your research die in the session itself. Again, don’t over-complicate this if time is not a luxury you have.
That’s it. Of course there’s much more to cover, and cover it we will, but hopefully the above tips empower you to just get out there and do some research today. Building a regular research habit is the best way to build the discipline in yourself, your organization, and to consistently show its importance to your product and customers.
In this Field Guide we’ll dive deeper into research methods—discovery, validating and testing, and post-launch—, recruiting, research deliverables, the best tools of the trade, and the ever-important topics of politics, collaboration, and being successful in your organization. We’re launching with getting started, discovery methods, and recruiting.
You don’t need to read this full Field Guide to get started, and many of you out there might be seasoned pros just looking to brush up on a couple topics, hence “Field Guide.” You can sign up for the modules that suit your needs. You can sign up for the full experience. And of course you’re free to browse.
We’re a user driven company and would love to hear from you with any and all feedback. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.