Have you ever been on a project where you conducted user interviews and got some answers, but didn't know why you were asking specific questions, what the answers meant, or how they really related to a business?

Have you felt like you were checking off questions, but not gaining any real value?

We have. Many times, sadly.

We need to pay more attention to why we are conducting specific research and design activities. We need to ask how our learnings can impact people and the business for which we’re working, in positive, holistic ways. We need to know how our research activities integrate with the bigger program of user research and how they fit into product and business roadmaps.

A Recent Project
We needed to develop a user research plan that would enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the users for whom we were designing by collecting stories that could lead us to observations and insights about the domain under study.

On a recent project, a business asked us to help create personas and a customer journey map. So we needed to develop a user research plan that would enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the users for whom we were designing by collecting stories that could lead us to observations and insights about the domain under study.

While creating our deliverables, we also considered our process - listening to stories, translating the data from the stories to each other, and asking what we’d learned along the way.

Then we thought about what this meant for our practice and how to improve our process the next time we conducted similar user research - our practice of the practice.

The deliverables were important, but we’ll focus more on the process itself: capturing stories to develop a deeper understanding; looking at why planning is critical, how to capture stories and how to evolve stories into observations and group observations into insights from the user research to help us to tell a compelling story to the business.