As product people, we all know how crucial research is to uncovering our users’ needs, behaviours, and motivations so we can build products people love (and use!). But how do we even get started? In this Ask me Anything (AMA) for prioritised members, Mind the Product’s Co-Founder, James Mayes
, joined UX expert Laura Klien
to answer all questions related to research in product management.
Watch the video in full or read on for the summary:
When is the right time to get stuck in
There is no bad time to do more research, Laura opens. She says to think about research as a way to answer your big questions that don’t always involve several stakeholders in a room. All research is good research, Laura believes. If you know a change is going to be successful, research will signal to you to determine that. You need to ask yourself what you need to know from your users and focus your research around that.
If you’re building something and you don’t have success metrics, why are you building it? Laura says. It’s important to know what you want to achieve when building a product and that’s why research is key.
Different methods for different sizes
Laura believes that the research methods used depending on company size don’t have to be too different. “The big difference is that start-ups have fewer resources and are not able to do the things that a larger company can do,” Laura says. Another difference is that start-ups tend to create brand new products instead of innovating less often at bigger more established organisations. However these approaches are all interchangeable, if you’re an established start-up that has gone through several rounds of funding, then you may have to think more like a larger company, while if you’re working at an incubator at a larger company, you may have to think more like a start-up. The way you approach product decisions may vary but your research methods stay the same.
As a product leader, it's important to pick and choose the people who are important to any kind of research project. Asked who is best to lead this project, Laura explains that it's the team who is the best trained in the methods and understands the data the most. You have to have someone from product, design, and engineering in the research team. The more these groups understand why customers want certain features of the product, the better decisions that they will make when building it. Get the full value of teams by ensuring that everyone knows what your hypothesis is and what your user wants.
Getting the most out of your research
Asked how to get the most out of research, Lauren says to understand who you’re trying to share your research with and what point you are trying to get across. To make your research more effective as a product manager, track what happens to the research. Doing this will help to look at what effect it has. Be honest about your findings, even if you can see little impact. If you can’t make your research have an impact, learn what you could do better to ensure that it does have an impact on your next project.
If you can never figure out what you want to learn and what is having an impact, you can be doing research forever and never achieving the results that you want. “Establish what you want to learn ahead of time, then create a strategy around your research,” she says.
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