User Research: takeaways from Boston Product breakfast

I attended Boston Product's breakfast on the topic of user research.  Here are my core takeaways from the event:

Opportunities to do research exist everywhere!

Opportunities for user research exist everywhere. Ideas came up included

  • Listening to support calls
  • Putting up surveys in the product and validating hypothesis quantitatively
  • Using LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit friends or friends of friends for user studies
  • Actually viewing user sessions with plugins such as Full Story and Appsee
  • Sales calls. Several Product Managers mentioned that they went to sales calls in exchange for being able to interview customers
  • Attending industry conferences
  • Malls, Liquor stores etc. Basically anywhere where your potential customers might hang out

Justifying user research can be tricky

Fighting for resources for User Research still seemed like an uphill battle for several product managers. One of the participants had to re-organize their role and make sure that they had 40% time dedicated to user research.

There are two ways to justify resources

  • In terms of reducing costs; if we know the right thing to build, engineers can get it done faster. This one had a natural ceiling.
  • In terms of new opportunities or capabilities unlocked for the company. This one seems to be the better approach and it is much more persuasive for executives

Share results in the right format

 Once you have done research, how do you share results? Lots of ideas here!

  • Via a slack channel dedicated to user research, especially with clips of relevant sections
  • Cataloged in Airtable, Google docs and shared broadly
  • Summary during show and tell
  • As part of a product or feature presentation

The main takeaway for me was the Product Manager and User Research own the responsibility of coming up with the "So What" and communicating that to the team, rather than the raw notes. 

Begin with the end in mind

Always begin research with a hypothesis front and center. What's your current answer that you are trying to validate?

By doing so, you care clear on what you want to test and can shape the research to be much more effective.

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