UXify US 2017 | Exploring User Research Myths & Legends

Jim Ross / Thursday, June 8, 2017

At the fifth annual UXify Conference, sponsored by Infragistics, I took the audience on a journey to explore the most common user research myths and legends. We examined 13 common user research myths to discover the truth behind these misconceptions.

We live in a fortunate time, when more people than ever before have heard of the term user experience. People are beginning to understand that to design a good user experience, you need to understand the users and their context of use. However, few people outside of the field know much about user research. There are still many misconceptions about what user research involves, how it’s conducted, and the information it provides.

Exploring User Research Myths & Legends

On our journey, we encountered and debunked the following myths:

  • User research involves asking people what they want.
  • Don’t listen to users.
  • User research provides stunning, new revelations.
  • User research just tells us what we already knew.
  • User research tells you how to design your product.
  • User research stifles creativity.
  • User research allows you to observe people’s natural behavior.

And these are some of the truths we discovered:

  • Instead of asking people what they want, user research involves observing and interviewing people to infer what they need.
  • Listening to users is a key part of user research. You just have to ask the right questions.
  • User research provides extremely useful information for designers, and sometimes a few amazing insights.
  • When clients and stakeholders think user research is simply telling them what they already knew, they’re usually overestimating what they already knew. Regardless, the most important purpose of user research is to give designers a deep understanding of the users and their needs.
  • User research doesn’t tell you specifically how to design a product. It provides general, but extremely useful, information about the users that designers use to inform their design.
  • User research doesn’t stifle creativity at all. It provides information about the users and their needs to inform the creative problem solving process.
  • Going out to observe people performing their usual tasks, in their natural environment, provides the best information about their current experience, but your presence observing them affects their behavior. Thus, you can never really see their completely natural behavior.

These are just some of the user research myths and legends we explored and debunked. To see all of them, watch the recorded session below.

UXify 2017

If you thought this talk was good, why not take a look the previous installment of the UXify 2017 blog series or even the entire UXify conference recap?