Choose a user research technique

Business benefits

Effectively answer research questions with techniques that match your business goals and product lifecycle stage.

Map out the business goals that will be tied to your research objectives.

Examples of goals that are driven by company and organizational needs include:

  • Company-wide goals, like growing revenue from subscriptions by 20%.
  • Department goals, like increasing daily active users by 1,000 each month.
  • Feature goals, like reducing the number of support requests we get about our out-of-the-box integrations by 50%.

Develop research questions, based on your business goals, and looking at who, what, when, where, why, and how.

For example, if you want to achieve a goal of reducing support requests by 50%, start by answering:

  • Who is currently submitting these requests? Are they the same few people or different users?
  • What is the content of the tickets? Are there clear patterns and categories?
  • When are the requests are coming in? What is their periodicity (like 100 a week, 100 a month)?
  • Where in the user channel, and on what channels, do the the support tickets originate?
  • Why are users are struggling with integration?
  • How might a solution might result in fewer support tickets?

Decide between open-ended and closed research questions to minimize unfounded assumptions, based on how much you know about a particular user and user experience.

The less you know about a particular problem or user, the more open-ended and exploratory your research questions need to be. Focus on closed questions later in the process, when you can test clear existing patterns or beliefs that you want to disprove. Document any assumptions you have made.

Use your research questions to test assumptions you might have about your users.

This allows you to avoid biases or preconceived notions about your audience. Assume a position of agnostic unknowing to make sure all of your assumptions are ultimately backed up by research.

Choose qualitative research methods to answer research questions about user behavior like why and how to fix.

Qualitative research approaches include interviews, focus groups, and field-studies, and allow you to go in-depth into your users’ mindset and reasons behind their behavior.

Take a quantitative approach to determine answers to questions and confirm assumptions related to how many and how much.

Quantitative research approaches include surveys, clickstream analysis, and A/B testing, and allow you to understand how users behave on a more basic, surface level…

Use observatory research techniques like eye tracking and A/B testing to determine how people interact with your product or online presence.

Employ attitudinal research like surveys and interviews to understand what users say, and the reasons behind their actions, on a more quantitative level.

Consider exploratory research techniques like interviews and ethnography early in the product development cycle to help you understand potential product problems.

Consider user testing and surveys to better understand how a developed product has solved, or falls short of solving, common user problems.