I often feel that I am in a constant battle to persuade people that User Research is a good thing. There is this resistance. Why spend all that money when we can just make it and see if it works?
How about this? You are lucky enough to have won a pot of cash and you decide you want to build yourself the perfect house. You go to the architect. “Not to worry” – says the architect – “leave it with me”.
Imagine this expert architect not asking you any questions? Not just those relating to budget, location, climate, materials, timelines, deadlines,Â etc but also what or who the house is for. If I were in that situation I would like to be asked about how I intend to live in the house. “Do you cook? Do you socialise? Entertain? Do you have visitors? What about paintings? What would make it a total failure? What is the one thing you couldn’t bear to be without?”
Maybe that is too personal? How about public spaces?
It’s a museum. Surely there are human related questions there too? “Do we want people to just come through, see some exhibits and leave? Do we want them to linger? Study? Do we want people to meet each other in this museum? People they already know or can we encourage people to talk to strangers?”
Tell you what. I have these bricks, some marble that I want to use up, a piece of land with a spare corner on and I have some builders available in July. I want to build a shop that sells wigs.
Am I stifling innovation?
Or is it merely possible that people are far more likely to buy wigs if the shop has some mirrors?
ThingsÂ get usedÂ by people in particular ways. Why not increase the odds of success by designing how people will use it rather than taking a chance that they willÂ like the wayÂ you decide to use that budgetÂ you’ve been allocated?