8 Reasons You Think You Don’t Need User Research (and Why You Do)

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Becky Pierson
Sep 12, 2019

User Research can play a key role in the success or failure of a business. Most business executives agree that it is important to do market research before working toward building a new product, but what executives sometimes miss is that once their team proves there is a market need for their product, the research doesn’t stop. In fact, it is just beginning.

According to Forbes, 9 out of the top 20 reasons why startups fail are related to customer needs. While the state of the economy is often the most important factor, it’s also important that a startup solves consumer problems in the way that consumers expect. So if you think you have a good excuse to not do user research, then let us take our stand at the podium to give you my best arguments:

1 . You say “We don’t have money”
I say “Prioritize research in your budget”
If you don’t consider your end users from the beginning you might as well not build anything. This sounds harsh but it’s the truth- why spend your money until you have validated your ideas? Research is worth the money. In fact, only 2 of the top 20 reasons that startups fail are due to lack of money— which is a much lower number than the statistic above. 

2. You say “We don’t have time”
I say “Break the rules”
Yes, you do have time. Research is always worth the time, even if it’s a day, a week, two weeks, three weeks- some research is better than no research. If you’re really worried about a target launch date you can always start developing boiler plate features, building backend tasks and getting environments setup while you conduct your research. UX Designers are used to having to hustle to get their first research strategy into the prototype. If you give us the resources we’ll do it in whatever time we have. Plus, there is always time for guerrilla testing

3. You say “We know our users”
I say “Prove it with data”
You might have a great idea of who your users are but you likely don’t know the whole picture. We’re all biased, that’s why the number one rule of design is to design for others, not yourself. Even if your personal persona falls within your target market, there are many variations of ‘you.’ One can’t truly know their target market without research. For example, have you thought about the demographic of your users? Older users use technology different than others. These kinds of factors inform the design of your product and whether or not people will use it.

4. You say “We are scared of the results”
I say “It’s better to get the results now than later”
Don’t be scared. Research is for testing assumptions that are often correct. However, that one small thing that you didn’t get right originally can make a huge impact on end user perception. It’s worth it to validate and iterate to make your product better. The stakeholders of a product will be happy to have caught any ‘gotchas’ before launch. Remember that research can only improve what you deliver – not the opposite.

5. You say “The stakeholders on my team aren’t interested in research”
I say “Your stakeholders are probably interested in understanding user research ROI”
You have to fight the good fight. Tell the stakeholders that like anything new in this world, we have to follow all the steps of the scientific method to prove anything. We have to outline every assumption we’re making and challenge them one by one with research. Take it from Jacob Nielson, he estimates that spending 10% of a product budget on usability testing will double usability. If Nielson’s research isn’t enough and you need help starting that conversation, we’re here to help

6. You say “We’ve done some research”
I say “Keep going!”
That’s awesome! Now it’s time to keep it going because, you guessed it, research isn’t a one time thing. Research is an ongoing process, as we build and release we need to constantly validate our assumptions, test that new features are working and gauge where users believe features are missing. It’s also worth mentioning that the research you gather is only valid if it was captured without leading questions, using proven research methodologies with the appropriate cast on your fish net. It’s important to reach a certain amount and variety of users to make sure you have an accurate representation of your market.

7. You say “We don’t know how to get started”
I say “Start with ‘why’”
Starting a new research initiative isn’t easy but there are so many resources out there to help you get started. If you’re an early startup consider having your team participate in a google design sprint – we’re happy to help facilitate. If you have a product already then run usability tests to find out where users are getting stuck and where there is room for improvement. There is always something to learn from watching people use your product. Most importantly, ask intelligent questions that lead to meaningful conversations with your users or potential users. This qualitative research will take you the farthest.

8. You say “We don’t have the resources”
I say “Hire for your weaknesses”
If you don’t have UX Designers or Researchers to help you make this happen then engage with someone to help. We can help you hire someone, we can facilitate an innovation lab, we can do a full-on research study for you while you continue your work. You got this, because we got this! Let us help.