Notes on “User Research Is Product Management”

The focus of the User Research Is Product Management episode is about going beyond simply User Experience. The guest is Jack Cole, a director of design. User Research is critical to product management decision making. It’s beyond just trying to make “cool stuff.”

The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Notes

User research is a through line throughout any type of product lifecycle. — Jack Cole

We focus on users of a certain age or economic background. We do interviews with people, uncover their goals and understand where they are trying to get some additional value. We’re trying to understand the “opportunity space” that is there. We want to create “habit forming” products.

We break it down around the key factors / features that “certain user groups would be be looking for.” We want to go for trends. We uncover them. Next, we go for those identified age ranges, economic backgrounds or areas of the world.

Formal interviews are not the only way. His company has built out friendship groups. It’s more of a casual atmphosphere. They build on a conversation and a level of trust to identify where the opportunities are.

Discover existing pain points and trends. This is done before proposing new ideas and value propositions. Hoping and Praying that things are on target is not fun.

How to Find the Right Users? Who To Talk To?

Envelope yourself in the project. Start gorilla style. Ask around.

Metrics and Data Points

It’s about trying to identify themes in the discussions. Map them out. You can see opportunities based on what is common in the responses. See an opportunity? Build on a hypothesis and on those elements. Objectively identify themes and narratives in data. It’s about quantitive and qualitative information. Shake out the truth vs what is an anomaly. Build out ideas and test.

Common Problem

Trusting in the first interview you hear is a problem. See the themes and through lines. Don’t trust just one voice.

B2Bs count too. Even if the customer base is established, we can achieve better adoption through a deeper understanding of the end user. Come at this through a path of humility. You don’t know everything. There’s always something new that can be pulled out. New innovations can spring forth.

Risks of Not Doing User Research?

  • Loss of time, money, and resources.
  • If the culture doesn’t embrace it then you get Product Manager burnout.

Evangelizing Tips

It doesn’t have to be time consuming or extensive. Engaging your user community is a form of research.

Reading

Podcasts

He also suggests checking out the blog posts at motivatedesign.com

Summary

  • Do user research by doing interviews.
  • Map out themes from the research.
  • Evangelize through community

There’s certainly overlap in this episode with other episodes made by This is Product Management. However, this episode is highly focused which is refreshing. As listed above, the podcasts shared and things he is reading are certainly worth looking into. From what I have seen where I work at CARFAX, understanding the users through user research is a must have. CARFAX gets it. An understood user is a user who will rave about your company.

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