User research is one of the most important steps when starting a new project. However, despite its utmost importance, many designers still skip this crucial step.
One of the common reasons why designers skip user research is simply because they think that they already know what their users want. They somehow think that if they like the design or if they think the users will like the design, then the users will definitely like the design as well. However, you are not like your users. Therefore, do not assume that you already know what they will like from your design.
So, how would you know what they want? By asking them. By knowing them. By doing research about them. This is basically what user research is all about – knowing your users so that you can create a design that best serves them.
What is User Research?
Before we talk about why you should do user research, let us first talk about what user research is.
Simply put, user research is a method of knowing your users – their needs, wants, preferences, behavior, etc. – so that you will know what kind of design they would want and how you can best serve them.
User research entails that you know which target audience or participants you will need for your research, what research methodologies you should use, and so on. In other words, if you want to maximize your user research, be sure to do it properly. But that will be for a different topic. For now, we will discuss the reasons why you should not skip user research.
5 Reasons Why You Should Do User Research
Of course, the main reason for doing user research is to know your users, so let us get that out of the way. As mentioned earlier, you should not assume that you know your users (or that you are just like them, hence you “know” them). The only way to really know your users is by asking and learning about them.
But aside, what are the reasons why you should do user research? What are the benefits it will bring to your project? Why should you not skip user research at all? Here are 5 more reasons why.
1) You will avoid guesswork since you already know what your users want
Doing user research helps you avoid the guesswork since you already know what your users need and want. By knowing your user’s preferences, you will have a clearer idea and vision on how you are going to proceed and work on your design project. Your user research will essentially become the guiding light that will help you through the project. Without it, you’ll always be lost and wonder “What should I do next?” When you know your users and their needs/wants, it’s easier to give them just that.
2) It can save money or avoid potential loss
One of the main drawbacks of skipping user research is creating a design that does not meet the users’ preferences simply because the designers did not bother to know about them right in the beginning of the design process. This is of course a waste not only of money, but of time and energy as well. If only they did some research on their users before they worked on the project, this loss could have been avoided or, at least, the risks to such loss would be reduced.
So, do user research at the beginning of the project. It could just save your money – and time and energy as well.
3) The conclusions you gather can help you throughout your design process
As mentioned in #1, user research can act as your guiding light throughout your project. Not only does user research help you in the beginning of the project, but also in the middle of it and until you finally finish the project.
It’s one thing to have an idea on how to begin your project. But as you work on the project, you may find yourself being unsure of what to do next. The knowledge you’ve obtained from user research can help you with the next decision-making phases you’ll face.
4) User research allows you to provides the best value you can give to your users
Simply put, it’s easier to provide what your users want if you already know what they want. When you know your users well, you can provide them with the best value that you can give – be it by solving a problem that they always face, providing a feature that they’ve always wanted, etc. On the contrary, if you didn’t do some research, you may still bring some value for your users, but mostly not to the best that you could.
5) User research allows you to see what further developments can be made
Some think that user research is only useful to the current project that you’re working on. But that’s not the case. In reality, the user research you made can very well extend to potential major developments that you can make to your product or even to a new product altogether. But keep in mind that user research should be continuous, too. You should know not only what they want from the beginning, but how they react to your product. Then, you can study the data you’ve gathered and decide the next best step if you need to do major developments on your product.
User research is simply a very crucial step that every designer should do. Despite being skipped by, user research is not an option; it is a must. Therefore, you should do it from the beginning if you want to maximize your project. Nonetheless, if you still think that user research is unnecessary, hopefully the following reasons can help you reconsider and begin doing some user research for your next project.
If you need some tools for user research, check out our recommended tools and resources.