Chapter 22. What Is User Research?

Ah, users. The sun in the UX solar system and the thorn in your side. One of the Sacred Laws of UX is “never blame the user,” even though—let’s be honest—sometimes it is really fucking tempting. However if you feel that way, you probably don’t understand your users well enough. Research is how we fix that.

Different People Will Say That User Research Happens at Different Stages in the Process

Some say you should do it first. Some say you make some drawings and do it then. Some say you do it after building a working product.

They are all right. There is never a bad time to do user research. Do it early, do it often. The important question isn’t when. It’s what. As in “what are you trying to learn about your users?”

There are two main types of information that you can get from research that involves people: subjective and objective.

Subjective Research

The word “subjective” means that it is an opinion, or a memory, or your impression of something. The feeling it gives you. The expectations it creates. Not a fact.

“What is your favorite color?”

“Do you trust this company?”

“Does my ass look fat in these pants?”

(i.e., There is no right answer.) To get subjective information you have to ask people questions.

Objective Research

The word “objective” means a fact. Something true. Something you can prove. Your opinion doesn’t change it, no matter how hard you wish.

“How long did you spend using our app?”

“Where did you find the link to our site?”

“What size are those ...

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