Finding the courage to start utilising user research
Insight
12-02-2021
Eeppi Nieminen

Finding the courage to start utilising user research

Ironically, one of the most commonly neglected principles of user-centred design is actually involving your users. In his blog post, Business Development Manager Eeppi shares some tips on how to get over the hurdle of making user research part of your design process.

These days, it's already quite common for organisations to have their own design team. But having a design team that can be said to engage in user-centred design is much more rare. This is not just the design teams' fault, either. Organisations as a whole need to become more user-centred; not talking to clients is often one of the biggest obstacles on this journey.

What do I mean by a user-centred organisation? Simply put, it can be understood as the combination of building services that help solve real needs and are enjoyable to use. The same philosophy can be applied to customer products, internal tools and process, and so on. The good news is that any company can become such a place. All it takes is more action and some courage.

I've been regularly talking to some of the most high-profile companies in Finland and it baffles me how often I've heard the phrase "our designers don't really involve users".

During my time at Taiste, I've been regularly talking to some of the most high-profile companies in Finland and it baffles me how often I've heard the phrase "our designers don't really involve users".

This approach is dangerous because it often leads to a process that looks something like this:

1. Business unit has an idea
2. They're sure that their clients want it because... well, they just know.
3. The product is designed and developed, and then nothing happens.
4. Frustration and endless iteration cycles, often resulting in the product being eventually killed if a client need is not found.

The better way would no doubt be to start talking with the clients from the get-go. Even just a few customer interviews can be hugely beneficial in the early stages.

Start small. You don't necessarily need to talk to hundreds of users.

Here are a few simple tips to get over the fear of taking the plunge:

1. Accept the discomfort. Take a moment individually or as a team to consider what makes you uncomfortable in receiving user feedback.
2. Start small. You don't necessarily need to talk to hundreds of users. Often, there's a surprising amount of things that can be learned from just a handful of interviews.
3. List your questions. You probably have a lot of questions you'd like to validate before proceeding with the idea. Ask yourself: what would you like to learn? What are your hypotheses regarding the project?
4. Don't re-invent the wheel. There are myriad of user interview templates available with just a simple Google search. There's no harm in copying with pride to get yourself started, and then finding your own groove.
5. Start now. The best time to start doing user research was yesterday, the next best is now.

According to State Of User Research Report 2020, user interviews are the most popular way of conducting user research. Moreover, companies that engage in customer research grow 2-3 faster than those who don't. There's no excuse not to talk to your clients, so put your researcher hat on.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog post – give us a follow on social media and get in touch if you'd like help with your current or future user research projects!

Eeppi Nieminen

Having run his own company for the past 4 years, Eeppi is a business development professional and startup entrepreneur, experienced in business design, project & product management. In his free time, Eeppi enjoys yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, hiking and airsoft.

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Eeppi Nieminen

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