User research is complicated, expensive and scary. And then there is your gut feeling. It is simple, cheap and supportive. Why wouldn’t you trust it anyway? Let’s talk about it.
If you do it properly it requires quite a lot of resources, but then you never know what comes out. I mean IF you do it properly.
In reality, however, you never go and say like ‚Um, I have so much money, let’s do some user research!‘ In most cases, you have an idea or even some developments you want to test. Do you really keen on finding out that it is a bullshit? Definitely no. So thanks to that you pick up some user research methods and test groups that will let you find out whatever you want to. Right. The idea is brilliant and it is worth the investment. It is the only possible result of that research, isn’t it?
It is like an observer effect in physics. You see what you expect to.
+ On one hand side, it is a good thing, especially if you need some user research to convince your potential customers. ‚9 out of 10 women would recommend our product to their friends‘. So it is good to know you can ‚prove‘ anything you need to.
– On the other hand, if you are working on your business idea or some prototypes you would really want to get objective results. Why? Cause it is still early enough to change direction, to rearrange the priorities and make something potentially great instead of making potential debts.
The double diamond approach.
So if you are now considering to do user research for your next project but don’t know where exactly to start, try this double diamond approach.
The main idea of the double diamond approach is the guided creativity, I would say.
The first diamond.
Starting with some general problem/project/business idea go and diverge with your user research. This will help you get an overview. After this discovery phase, insights should be gathered and the specific problem should be defined. User research that is done in this first diamond ensures that the problem-to-be-solved is a real one and there is the need for the solution-to-be-developed. Quite a crucial part. Missing it and relying on your guts feeling (full of biases by the way) may bring you to a solution of a problem no one has.
The second diamond.
Knowing the problem different solutions are to be created. It is a constructively guided creative process. The ideas emerged in development phase offer different ways to address the problem and the best of them must just nail it. The result is being delivered as a prototype.
Frustration as an indicator for the right path
The left part of each diamond is all about user research. It always goes wide in order to deliver some precise and useful insights.
If you feel frustrated and confused during the user research part of any diamond, it is okay. You are actually supposed to feel that way. It basically means that you are on the right way.
If you, on the contrary, feel confident and all the pieces fall into their place – that’s a bad sign. Make sure your bias is not fooling your user research.
Gut feeling as a user research method
I once tried to establish a business (full disclaimer: it never really worked). I knew nothing about the double diamond method and I definitely underestimated the user research importance. So looking back and analysing design process I went through from the perspective of the double diamond method unpleasant realisation hits me.
I literally skipped the first diamond relying on my gut feeling. And instead of developing different ideas in the second diamond I came up with one single idea which made it up to a solution of the problem NOONE had. As you can see I could really save up on user research! I really needed that money to cover the debts afterwards…
So good luck with your further projects, and let them be frustrating and confusing at the beginning and fruitful in the end.