Truth: Without understanding what your potential users may want, you are taking a big risk. You are building a product based on your hunch about them.
If you want to develop a product that people will actually need, relate to and like, user research is going to keep your boat afloat.
Myth 2: I will have to invest a lot of money in qualitative research.
Truth: There are 2 ways to overcome this block. One, if budgeting is an issue, there are cheaper and smarter ways of conducting research sessions. From remote Skype sessions to phone calls to getting in touch with your target user group through social media, options are innumerable.
Two, if you can have a budget reserved specifically for research, it is going to be a meaningful investment anyway. Good research can add significant value to products and hence the costs will be recovered in leaps and bounds over the long term.
Myth 3: Adding user research in my project timeline will set my project back by another 4–5 months!
Truth: This statement is only true if you consider research to be an optional step. If your product is not backed by research and it fails, how much more time would you end up wasting?
Myth 4: If my friends and family find the product useful, the users will too.
Truth: Unless your friends and family members fall in the target user group, their opinion about your product may not be a good indicator of actual users’ preferences.
Another danger is that your friends and family in all probability may have similar tastes and preferences to you, and you will end up making an echo chamber. Venture out in the field instead and get some solid backing from users who are not related to you.
Myth 5: A/B testing will take care of it, let’s not put time in research before development.
Truth: If you develop the product without checking with your target users before developing it, you are taking a big risk.
Once the product is live, it would be too late to make major changes in your product strategy even if you get user feedback to do so. The biggest pitfall is that you will have to settle with making incremental changes in an average product.
Myth 6: I did do a field study before starting my company. That’s enough.
Truth: User research is an on-going process. Till the time your product is live, you need to get feedback from the users on a consistent basis to offer what they want consistently.
Your product needs to evolve with evolving user needs.
Myth 7: Marketing guys already do market research. There is no need to hire user researchers separately.
Truth: While market research focuses on brand perception and users’ attitudes, qualitative user research focuses on users’ experience of the product and the “why” behind their choices.
They both have their role in the success of the product, one can’t replace the other.
Myth 8: Doing a survey with 5000 users is so much more valuable than interviewing 10 users.
Truth: Both quantitative and qualitative research have their place. One is not better than the other. If surveys help you assess your users’ attitudes & preferences, in-depth interviews help you understand their motivations, reasons and emotions.
The insights you get from qualitative research may have direct impact on the product strategy. Though surveys are very good for manoeuvring the design direction as per what majority of users want.
Myth 9: What is the return on investment on user research anyway!
Truth: Once the product is launched, there are various ways of calculating the contribution of user research in a company’s ROI. The visibility of the benefits is not immediate but long term.
Myth 10: Let the marketing and design departments take care of users, there is no need to send updates to the rest of the company.
Truth: Insights from the research should be circulated amongst all employees!
Everyone should know the users they are working for. With an aligned vision, the whole company is driven towards one goal.