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How to conduct user research by Joel Marsh

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Chapter 2. What Isn’t User Research?

User research is very important and you should do it. But make sure you are asking users about what they think and feel, not what you should do next.

You Are Not Testing the Users; They Are Testing You

As the designer, you will be in a position of authority when you do user testing, but don’t let it go to your head. The users are testing your design. If they don’t do what you want them to do or if they don’t understand, that’s your fault, not theirs.

And if you lead them to the right answers by asking leading questions or giving them tips that normal users won’t get, the test is ruined. You ain’t proved nothin’. So when users are doing tests or giving answers, shut up and observe.

Users Are Not a Crystal Ball

UX is a set of skills, not a talent. Which means the average user can’t help you do it, and it is a terrible choice if you’re competing on X-Factor.

Therefore, your job is to listen to what the users say, not to be their design monkey. Listen to what users think, watch how they try to get things done, and understand how and why they get lost in your designs. Then go find solutions to those problems.

Don’t ask users how they want their problems solved

If users think the button should be blue, or wish they could see all the products arranged by country of origin, or want you to smash little cymbals together and wear a cute little red hat, you can make note of it. But, if it doesn’t help you achieve your UX goals, it probably isn’t valuable right now. ...

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