How to Conduct User Research

Jan 31, 2022

6 Min Read

Product Manager is a profession in which one of your main objectives (if not your number one primary goal!) is to offer consumers what they want. Therefore, a successful product development effort will result in a product or service that resonates with your target consumers, solves their issue, is pleasant to use, and is something they’ll be interested in returning to again and over again.

How can you accomplish that if you have no idea what they’re searching for? User research methodologies, of course, are the solution to this question.

The meaning of this term is pretty self-explanatory. Development teams use several data-gathering techniques to learn more about their target customers, including who they are, what they anticipate from the product, and what satisfies and delights them.

There are many different kinds of user research, and the one you select will be determined by the type of information you need from the participants. It is also likely that various development team members will need different kinds of information. For instance, your UX Designer will need specialized UX research, while sales and marketing will require something else.

User research is a crucial element of the Product Management job, and it is an essential, necessary ability if you want to advance in your Product Management career.

This article will discuss the most critical considerations while beginning your user research process and the most often used data collecting techniques.

This will also provide you with a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each technique to help you in determining which one is ideal for you.

The Fundamentals of Effective Data Collection

  • Be aware of your data protection! While data protection compliance is not the most fun part of product development, it is a necessary evil if you want to succeed. It’s all about trust, particularly in the early phases of a business;
  • Determine the answers you need before posing your queries. Knowing what you’re looking for can assist you in formulating inquiries. (While this may sound self-evident, it is a persistent error for product teams, to begin with, questions and then provide answers that aren’t very helpful!);
  • Collaborate with the team’s other members. Contrary to popular belief, no one data collection will work for everyone. Collaborate with your cross-functional development team to determine what information is most desired; and
  • Conduct user research using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods

Qualitative vs. Quantitative User Research: What’s the Difference?

When collecting data to develop goods or services, it is critical to maintain a healthy qualitative and quantitative data mix.

Quantitative data refers to everything that can be measured, such as how consumers engage with the product, what they click on, and the duration of a session. Additionally, you may collect quantitative data by asking users to evaluate a feature on a 10-point scale or by calculating your NPS score.

Qualitative data collection entails responding to more open-ended inquiries. After all, you are developing goods for human use. Their emotions will always influence people’s buying choices. You may discover that your target consumers prefer your competitor’s product even though yours is cheaper and faster, just because they like the way it feels.

Therefore, why is it critical to balance these two kinds of information?

The explanation is that both qualitative and quantitative data may be fraudulent. The statistics may not always convey the whole story, but neither do the consumers!

For instance, Gibson Biddle, a former Vice President of Netflix, discussed its early days when it still leased DVDs. Having access to the latest releases as quickly as possible was of utmost significance if you asked consumers. That is all they requested.

When Netflix invested millions of dollars purchasing more DVDs to meet consumer requests, the outcome was a slight improvement in retention. Customers said they knew exactly what they wanted, even if they ultimately did not.

A mix of factual facts and user opinions will assist you in transforming the data you collect into actionable insights.

When collecting qualitative data, use open-ended questions requiring more than two or three words to respond. You want to get to the heart of your user’s product experience, which includes allowing them to expound.

Types of User Research

User Interviews

Just as the name implies, user interviews are interviews with your users! They are much more time and resource-demanding than other techniques. However, engaging them in your study allows you to have a face-to-face discussion with an individual representing a larger group of individuals who rely on your product — your consumers.

A user interview entails inviting a user to your headquarters or a video conference for a one-on-one discussion. This is your chance to ask those open-ended inquiries and develop a personal relationship with your user.

Prepare a script in advance and be prepared to ask follow-up questions. Take notes throughout the interview and utilize tools such as Temi to generate a transcript from which you may subsequently glean insights. If you’re still confused, many user interview templates are available online.

Once you’ve gathered a sufficient number of responses, build data visualization, such as a mind map or word cloud. This will aid in the conversion of your interviews into usable data.

Advantages: Facilitates a more personal connection and may be performed at any point throughout the growth process.

Disadvantages: Time-consuming

Usability Testing

Usability testing is the process of determining how users interact with your designs. You want to ensure that consumers understand how your product works and what they must do to accomplish their objectives, and the easiest way to do so is to put your product in their hands and observe how they interact with it.

You will get responses to four critical questions regarding your product:

  • Is it simple to pick up?
  • Is it simple to operate?
  • What are the most often made errors by individuals while using it?
  • How does this product feel to use?

User testing is beneficial since it covers various topics and provides a balanced qualitative and quantitative input. It enables you to assess your product’s technical performance, its ability to meet all of your criteria and is the first step in determining user satisfaction.

It’s always beneficial to do usability testing after making significant changes to your user interface, but it’s particularly critical to verify your prototype during the early phases of development.

It’ll assist you in identifying mistakes and problems with processes by putting your product in the hands of individuals who haven’t worked on it in months! What makes excellent logical to you may be perplexing to your target audience, resulting in a launch disaster! But, on the other hand, you’d be mesmerized at what a fresh pair of eyes can reveal.

Advantages: Covers a lot of ground and addresses the most critical questions

Disadvantages: Expensive resources; requires distributing a prototype to testers.

Card Sorting

You may believe that your design work and information structure are crystal clear, but they may not be for your customers. Card sorting enables you to see into the minds of your user group and get a better understanding of how they absorb information. This will assist you in incorporating their thinking patterns into the design process and ensuring that your product makes sense to them.

Card sorting is a widely used research technique in user experience design.

This may be accomplished online using a virtual card sorting program such as Optimal Workshop. If, on the other hand, you conduct in-person card sorting, you have the opportunity to follow up with participants and learn why they chose particular selections.

It works by providing customers with pre-made cards with various categories related to your product and asking them to arrange them in the most logical manner possible.

For instance, if you’re developing an e-commerce application for a brick-and-mortar clothing store, you may anticipate that customers would desire a store finder. However, suppose you present all of your expected features to a focus group, and none of them identify them as anything that would encourage them to purchase. In that case, you need to reconsider your feature prioritization.

Because you cannot please everyone, the critical point to remember about card sorting is that you risk having everyone give you a different response, making the data difficult to analyze.

Advantages: Possibility of discovering key issues

Disadvantage: It may be challenging to synthesize results into actionable insights.

A/B Testing

A/B testing on its own is a critical ability for today’s Product Manager, and it is often mentioned as a prerequisite in job listings.

A/B testing deploys two distinct variations of your product, landing page, or feature and observes the reaction.

You may test a wide variety of components, ranging from simple styles such as fonts, colors, and images to the whole structure of your user interface.

When evaluating you as a prospective candidate, almost all IT firms will assume you have some familiarity with A/B testing.

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