And that makes sense. Qualitative research can be tough to incorporate into your development process. Until fairly recently, it's been a big, expensive, time-consuming endeavor. Often it required having outside consultants come in to run tests in a rented lab behind a one way mirror. Additionally, a lot of product folks assumed that it would slow down the development process, since it would often add a step between design and engineering.
Now, if you read my blog or listen to me speak, you know that I advocate quick and cheap testing over large, formal studies, and I like taking advantage of tools that let me run remote usability studies. I also feel that testing and research speeds up your development process, since it tends to catch problems early, when they're easier to fix.
That said, user research is easy to get wrong. It takes some practice to be good at things like moderating sessions and analyzing data. For those of you who are interested in learning more about these things, I've compiled a list of resources to get you started.
My Blog PostsThese older posts should help you fix some of the common problems people have with user research:
- 5 Mistakes People Make Analyzing Qualitative Data
- Why Your Customer Feedback is Useless
- Pain Driven Design
- Shut up and Show Me Something
- Love Thy User: 5 Tips for Dealing with Tough Customers
- 6 Stupid Excuses For Not Getting Feedback
- 5 Things People Get Wrong When Talking to Users
- 6 Ways You May Be Failing at Customer Development
- 7 More Ways People Suck at Customer Development
- A Faster Horse - When Not To Listen To Users
- When Talking to Users Isn't Enough
- Improving the ROI for Your User Research
- A/B and Qualitative User Testing
- Why I Hate Paper Prototypes
- When To Get Help With User Research
There are a million books about user research. These are two very good ones. Let me know in the comments if you've read any other particularly helpful ones.
These tools do NOT eliminate the need to actually interact with your users in person, but they can be extremely valuable additions to your user research process.
- Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc. - Allow you to screen share so that you can observe how your users are interacting with your product.
- usertesting.com - Very fast & cheap way to test your new user experience.
- NavFlow - Lets you test your site navigation using mockups, which allows you to get feedback before you build the product.
- Five Second Test - Great for testing things like landing pages or whether your calls to action are obvious enough.
- Ethnio - Helps recruit session participants who are currently using your product.
- Revelation - Helps you run longer term studies with current users.