Anytime we create a product or service, we want to know whether people actually use them or not. We also want to know if they will be useful and usable. It’s important to be able to understand these things and many others over the product life cycle. Fortunately, there are many methods we can use to figure them out. For example, analytics, survey data, and conversation with users.

Analytics and surveys provide straightforward information and are fairly easy to use. However, they often fail to uncover the most important pieces of information like the “why” and “how”: the rationale behind of users’ behavior. For example:

  • Why do people like our product?
  • How do people think about our product?
  • Why don’t people like our product?
  • How are people using our product?
  • Why do people stop using it?
  • Why is it taking people a long time to achieve something with our product?

When we want to learn the answers to those questions, we need to go a step beyond analytics and surveys. To do this, we need to talk to our users, ask how they use our product and observe how they interact. This is called user research.

Image via Handrailux.com

Conversation with Users

In user research, having time to communicate with your users is critical because it allows you to understand what users need and want and why that is important to them. We can ask what they like or dislike, and get the rationale behind their responses.

Unfortunately, conversations with users is often not considered a priority. Even worse, many people postpone or omit conversations with their users all together. Beyond the useful data about your product or service, moderated research can help inform other decisions, such as where to more effectively spend money or position resources.

While user research might look like a non-measurable data, or feel like an extra feature instead of core factor, you can never understand why a product is truly being used as it is without it.

Image via ConnectFive, Inc.

Why Conversations are Important

The benefits of conversations are simple. Conversations help drive empathy and ensure we are not designing for ourselves. Conversations also allow us to discover novel things we never realized regarding product adoption, use, and satisfaction. In addition, we can attempt to figure out, not only “why”, but also “what” and “how.” There is no substitute for face-to-face conversations.

Although there are various approaches for user research, there is no substitute for conversations. If you want to go a step further and see what is beyond, we need to talk to users and ask how they use our product and what they do with it. Those approaches will provide us a great perspective and background for user research.

Eui Yang, Ph.D.

Eui is a UX analyst/researcher at ConnectFive. She loves to see how people interact with products and systems.

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