User research is valuable. Now get on with it.

It’s official, customer insights lead to better products.

During 2014 I noticed a proliferation of articles like this one (McKinsey) championing user research as a somewhat untapped source of design inspiration and product innovation.

It’s no surprise with ‘design thinking’ infecting the corporate world with it’s 5-step process, beginning of course with … understanding the customer. (Thanks d-school)

So while the business and design worlds are falling in love with customers problems, healthcare and other public sector services are adopting a user centred approach, why is user research still flirting and wanting to be noticed?

User Research UX design researchGoogle have a stab at answering this question in their article ‘What fuels great design and why most startups don’t do it?

Through my own experience I can vouch all these barriers exist, but they are increasingly being broken down, and if the UK government can be wrangled into shape (good work to @leisa, @jwaterworth & the team at GDS) then … the future has never looked brighter.

So with the world we’ve been trying to win-over for so long realising (and exercising) the value of this work, being all ‘empathy‘ and ‘get out of the office‘. And with armies of corporates tasting the design thinking kool-ade during half-day versions of ‘ethnography’ … then coming back for more … it would seem our day has come. No?

Let’s put the years of ‘broken record’ evangelism of UX and bangings-on about how valuable our role is to bed and redirect this energy into delivering value.

Well, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

Will you join me?


One thought on “User research is valuable. Now get on with it.

  1. Simon Johnson

    In my experience every organisation likes to talk the talk, but research is the first thing dropped or truncated when time gets short. Designers quickly need to get things done so they have a difficult job to do.

    I’ve not read it yet, but the new Rosenfeld Media book, Practical Empathy, might have some practical tips on how to interleave research and production

    Overall, companies are far better than 10 years ago. Usability testing is routine in many organisations and Designers appreciate it’s part of their work-flow. What’s less mature is the practice of building requirements based on customer involvement, rather that product owners pulling requirements out of their behind experience.

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