As a newbie product manager, I was always careful to ensure that I was doing user research right. I wanted to know all the right questions to ask and the best way to go about it. I did not want to make any avoidable mistakes. I just wanted to do things right.
This desire to want to do things right was at some point crippling. I remember having to reach out to my mentors for questions to ask and also asking if I was asking the right questions. Most times what was available was a template on the type of questions to ask but there was nothing sector centric. I was seeking someone that will feed me with all I needed. Then, I would just do it that way instead of using the template as a template. Which is using it as a foundation to find my footing. After about 10 user interviews and surveys, I realized that things are really not that complicated.
Most of the time when we have an idea. We are either trying to validate that our assumptions about the idea are right or if the idea is worth pursuing. We are also trying to validate if the idea we have is a real solution or a wanna-be solution. This is the whole purpose of user research. Finding answers to these questions and being open to wherever the answer leads you is the core of User Research.
Here is what you can do to improve your user research;
- In making user research, list out all the assumptions you are making. Do not leave out anything. This is very important because you want to be sure that all the assumptions you are making are right. For example, you have an idea to provide a solution for people to buy cars online.
Some of the assumptions you are making may include;
- People want to buy cars.
- People want to buy cars online.
- People do not want to inspect their cars before buying.
- People trust third-party inspection, etc.
Your assumptions cannot just be surface, you have to think of all the process that goes into car buying and list out all the assumptions involved.
- Next, you ask questions. Ask open-ended questions. Allow people to talk. Do not cut in on their conversation. Make sure you have enough time to listen and that you do not rush the process. Ask questions that lead to them telling a story. Also do not ask direct questions. Do not ask if you want to buy cars online. Most people will just say yes or no. Rather ask: ‘ if you had the money for your dream car today how would you go about getting it?’. This way you would know if people really prefer online vendors or if they would rather get it themselves. This is what making your user research the right way entails.
Follow these and you will have better responses from your user research which will lead to great products.