If you break user research down to its essential steps—watching people perform their tasks and interviewing them—it sounds deceptively easy. However, as anyone who has conducted user research knows, it involves much more than that, and it’s a lot harder than it looks. In this two-part column, I’ll discuss some of the biggest mistakes people make when planning and conducting user research and how to avoid them.
Conducting General User Research Without Any Focus
If you have all the time and money in the world, embarking on a user-research study with the vague goal of learning about a product’s users is a fine idea. However, in the real world, you’ll rarely have the luxury to pursue such broad, undefined user-research goals. So, unless you have a lot of time, money, and a limitless number of participants, doing general, unfocused research produces general, unfocused findings. Such research rarely elicits enough information to draw useful conclusions. Read More
We’ve all read monotonous reports and struggled to remain awake during boring presentations, but must all deliverables be interminably dull? Conveying user research findings so people can understand them, believe them, and know how to act on your recommendations can be challenging. And providing enough detail without boring your audience is a difficult balance. But there are some best practices in communicating user research findings that can make them more effective—and even entertaining. Read More
Email is often the most effective way to recruit user research participants.
You might think: So what? Big deal! A whole article about emailing people? I already know how to email people.
Of course, successfully recruiting participants by email requires a lot more skill and effort than simply sending out a bunch of email messages. Do it well, and you’ll get all the high-quality participants you need. Do it poorly, and you’ll end up with few or no participants, which could delay or even doom your study.
In this column, I’ll detail some best practices and tips for successfully recruiting participants by email. Read More