But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.
—Grail Knight, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Just as important as understanding the breadth of tools at your disposal is knowing when each method may be best utilized and how to adapt methods for your needs.
Having an approach to selecting the right method is critical. Because no two projects are alike, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all way to choose a method, but the following questions will help you define what methods are most appropriate for your given needs.
One of the most important factors in determining your research approach is an understanding of what questions you want to ask. This may seem recursive, but just as asking participants good questions is invaluable to product design, challenging yourself to reflect on the same questions in defining a research plan is critical. Are you looking to understand the path customers take using your product? Have you accounted for areas of stakeholder interest that are relevant to the research efforts? Maybe analytics or contextual inquiry can offer insight and clarity. If you are asking why issues arise, diary studies or other surveys may be more conducive to your needs.
Just as important as knowing what questions need to be answered is an understanding of what your stakeholders’ goals are. For in-house teams, ...