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User Research is a Surprise


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Slides Chris Butler recently used in his discussion w/ mentees of The Product Mentor.

Synopsis: When talking with people (aka 'users') about our products what should we be 'discovering?' Through this talk, we discuss the methods by which we do great user research, synthesis, and decision making with what we learn.

The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.

Published in: Business
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User Research is a Surprise

  1. 1. User Research is about Surprise The Product Mentor Session 10 For references and more info:
  2. 2. Chris Butler Director of AI @ Philosophie NYC TBPP 2016, TPM 4/6-10 18 years of product and BD Microsoft, Waze, Horizon Ventures, KAYAK, and started my own company (failed) @chrizbot
  3. 3. User research ● Why do user research? ● Research cycle ○ Planning ○ Execution ○ Synthesis ● Research in your process ● Future of research
  4. 4. Why do user research?
  5. 5. “[We must] discard our hopes of finding neat, elegant mental models...”
  6. 6. “...learn to understand the messy, sloppy, incomplete, and indistinct structures that people actually have.” - Dan Norman, Some observations on mental models
  7. 7. 1.Our models ≠ our user’s models
  8. 8. 2. Reduce bias (and risk) of building the wrong thing
  9. 9. 3. You will have a better user experience
  10. 10. 4. Really learn about your competitors
  11. 11. Recap: Why invest in user research? 1. Our models ≠ our user’s models 2. Reduce risk of building the wrong thing 3. You will have a better user experience 4. Really learn about your competitors
  12. 12. User research cycle
  13. 13. Activities: ● Planning ● Interview guide draft ● Recruitment ● Scheduling Activities: ● Interviews or visits Activities: ● Review ● Synthesis ● Distribution Plan ● What is our question? ● Which type of research is best? ● Who/how should we recruit? Execute ● How do we reduce our bias? ● How do we reduce the bias of our interviewees? Synthesize ● What did we learn? ● What is surprising to us and our stakeholders?
  14. 14. My “stack” for research ● Craigslist, LinkedIn, etc. - recruiting ● - scheduling ● Zoom - for remote interviews and recording ● Google Docs - interview scripts and synthesis ● Google Sheets - rainbow spreadsheet for usability ● AirTable - for nuggets ● Temi - for transcription
  15. 15. It always starts with a directed question...
  16. 16. Planning user research
  17. 17. Interview guide ● Instructions ● Background ● How they do things today ● Testing new things
  18. 18. Recruitment ● Recruit yourself by posting ads, but ask open ended questions ○ Or use recruitment services ● Offer compensation $25-$300 ● Make all requirements clear before the interview
  19. 19. Executing user research
  20. 20. Methods ● Sales safari ● Contextual inquiry ● SME/stakeholder/customer interviews ● Usability tests ● Surveys ● Focus groups
  21. 21. Sales safari
  22. 22. Contextual inquiry
  23. 23. Usability and prototype testing
  24. 24. Focus groups
  25. 25. Surveys
  26. 26. “Good” interviews ● Observe people, in their own environments ● Don’t ask them leading, biased, or yes/no questions ● Do ask them open ended questions, what they have done in the past ● If you can answer your own questions they (probably) aren’t good questions
  27. 27. Example of questions Not: ● “Do you go to the gym?” ● “How often do you go to the gym?” ● “Do you hate going to the gym?” Instead: ● “Tell me about the last time you went to the gym…” ● “How did you feel the last time before you went to the gym? After?”
  28. 28. Most importantly: you aren’t there to look smart, be quiet
  29. 29. Synthesizing user research
  30. 30. Presentation to stakeholders ● Great quotes ● What (new things) did we learn about: ○ Personas? ○ Current process? ○ Our prototype? ● What should we do/consider?
  31. 31. Research in your process
  32. 32. Start small and simple then iterate
  33. 33. “Two Hours Every Six Weeks For Everyone” - Jared Spool
  34. 34. Research output shouldn’t go directly into your backlog
  35. 35. Research <-> You <-> Backlog
  36. 36. Future
  37. 37. Thank you For references and more info: