Chapter 2. Good Research Starts with Good Questions

I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about.

Arthur C. Clarke

Research has always been a part of product development and design, as showcased by the previous chapter. In today’s world, we are no longer restricted to a single community, population, or geographical location. Modern products span the globe, sometimes in very unexpected ways. Products may shift in goals and use over time, and it is through research that the necessary adjustments are identified.

For teams to conduct meaningful research and collect data that allows quick iterations, you must start with an idea of what type of questions you want to ask. Not all questions are created equal, though, and it is helpful to understand what makes a good question and a good research initiative. If you’ve ever learned something from another person, you know that asking “good” questions is more craft than science. In this chapter, we discuss this craft and provide methods you can use to create questions that help you learn specific topics and remove factors such as personal and unconscious bias. We also provide a short exercise you can perform to quickly iterate through potential questions to ask about how someone might want to interact with a product.

Why Are Good Questions So Hard?

Researchers always struggle when it comes to writing down the questions they need to ask their participants. Sure, this gets easier over time and with ...

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