I've worked as a Product Manager, with and without UX Researchers and I definitely prefer to have them in the team. I am not saying Product Discovery can't be done without UX Researchers, but the purpose of this post is to share all the things you are leaving behind when you don't make the right hire or incentivise the team to work towards a shared goal.
If you are really doing discovery (and not the type where you speak to some users for a bit, create personas and never touch them again) having a UX Researcher can help you have more certainty about which direction to go in and mitigate risky decisions. For me discovery is the most fun part of the process - many companies have the revenue to do it, but don't effectively allocate budget towards it which is crazy to me because of how uncertain and risky startups are. What’s worked at So Energy, is that we have set aside a budget for incentivising participants and doing User Testing.
When you've built something worth shipping you can follow-up with user testing to see how well it helps your users meet their goals.
- User Research is about getting a deeper understanding of your users (their needs, motivations, how they want to use your product, how they are using your product), good ideas emerge from that understanding.
- User Testing: is about finding out how well something works for the users. Do users need my solution?
I remember working at a much smaller startup, it was much harder to build a continuous pipeline - I couldn’t go nearly as fast. If you can’t get a dedicated UX Researcher then getting a more general UX Designer is a step in the right direction.
Here are a few things that I appreciate about working with a dedicated User Researcher.
- Structured Insights: I get to work with someone who has experience exploring the potential customers mind in a structured manner
- Screeners save time. Once I lay out all the research goals, the screener saves us from doing a survey. He then calls them to run through the screening questions to make sure they fit. It’s also a window to discuss the research and prepare their thinking
- Scripts lead to consistency. He always creates Scripts which leads to consistency and repeatability in the process
- Someone is doing the Transcripts. Transcripts make doing subsequent analysis easier and are important for absorbing key findings across all interviews quickly. (One thing we do is embed videos and transcripts in order of how insightful they were)
- I can continue bringing the donuts: With him leading the discovery sessions, I was free to do more of my job as a PM which is everything really to make sure we build great product by identifying the important problems to solve throughout the customer journey and business model
Hopefully this post will help you see the value of UX Researchers. If your company has had a lot of failed experiments in the past, nows the time to think about what the ideal team looks like.
Cool tools you could be using:
- A simple and free tool like Google Jamboard
- Otter Plans - Otter.ai
- Descript | Create podcasts, videos, and transcripts
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