User Research: Worth The Time And Effort?

“It’s only natural to assume that everyone uses the Web the same way we do, and — like everyone else — we tend to think that our own behavior is much more orderly and sensible than it really is.” — Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2014)

Any user research is better than no research. User research can be anything from surveys and interviews to focus groups and usability testing. User research is what places the user at the center of the design process and prevents us from designing for ourselves. User research is critical to understanding the needs of the target audience and to create products that are truly relevant to the people who will use the product.

A case for user research

There were some interesting insights what were revealed during the course of the focus group.

Who were the users?

What were their needs?

A one hour user research focus group revealed some glaring mistakes in assumptions and pointed to crucial changes that needed to be made to the information architecture and content strategy of the website. Imagine completely skipping user research and investing time and money redesigning the entire website based on assumptions, only to later discover that there has been no improvement in the user experience for international students!

User research is an important investment for any design process. Only by interacting with the end user can designers disregard their own assumptions and perceptions and better understand the impact of the product on potential users.

I’m a user researcher & product designer with a multidisciplinary visual arts background and 5 years working in e-commerce & SaaS.