How to Ace a Strategic Research Project as a Team of One by Jillian Wells "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs February 02 2020 True ProductTank, ProductTank San Francisco, Research, Strategic Research, User Research, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 373 Jullian Wells speaking at ProductTank Product Management 1.492

How to Ace a Strategic Research Project as a Team of One by Jillian Wells


Making innovative products starts with better understanding the problem you’re trying to solve before you actually solve it. How can you better understand the problem you’re trying to solve? Through research. In this ProductTank San Francisco talk, Jillian Wells, then a Senior User Researcher at Intercom, provides some tips for acing strategic research.

Her key points include:

  • Types of research
  • Conducting strategic research
  • Tips for overcoming challenges

Watch the video to see her talk in full. Or read on for a summary of her key points.

Types of Research

Research falls under two types, quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research focuses on large sample sizes and analyzing the patterns within specific cohorts. Qualitative research is used for smaller audiences and helps to identify their motivations, problems they’re facing and how to solve them.

Different types of research occur at different stages of the product development cycle. Strategic research helps to define the problem and understand the motivations of the audience. Evaluative research helps to evaluate design concepts, and iterative research focuses on usability testing and repetitive studies to gain insights from users.

Conducting Strategic Research

Strategic research helps to inform the problem definition and happens before product development. While it may appear to slow things down in the beginning, it actually saves a lot of time in the backend by helping to identify the right problem. It helps to unify thinking among teams but to spot opportunities, researchers need to be having conversations on a regular basis with different stakeholders.

Tips for Overcoming Challenges

Most of the challenges related to research center around getting stakeholder buy-in. They might not see the value in the research, they may be skeptical of the data or they become overwhelmed and not be sure of how to act on the data. Some of the ways to get around these challenges include partnering with stakeholders early and often, getting them to participate in interviews, sharing insights early, and conducting workshops to ensure insights are understood.

The key takeaways from this talk are that making research successful requires the cooperation of both the researcher and stakeholders. Also, strategic research is a great way to spot new opportunities and save some headache in product development down the road.