6 common User Research pitfalls and how to avoid them

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1/ Asking your users for solutions

Imagine you were asked to develop an “innovative” product (which does not sound very user-centric). What would you do? Go onto the field, tell potential users about your idea and ask them for their best solution? Henry Ford stated once : “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have answered faster horses”. Asking for solution is dangerous…

2/ Believing what your users say

Think about the last time you interviewed users about your existing product. Did you ask questions like “What do you think of the new interface?” or “Do you like this design?”? Then be aware that more often than you think, your users lie. Most of the time unconsciously!

3/ Forgetting about context

Guerilla testing is a popular format of usability testing. It consists in having some users from your neighborhood (eg. the Starbucks around the corner, the metro station…) perform a quick test on your product. Even if better than nothing, Guerilla testing usually fails to capture a very important criteria for User Research: context (the two others being User and Goal).

4/ Looking for confirmations

Remember last time you did some field research. You probably already had a solution in mind that you wanted to test, didn’t you? Especially if you are the one doing both the research and the design. Unfortunately, it might have led you to the wrong conclusion.

5/ Focusing on your product’s sub-journey

How much do you focus only on your product journey, especially when trying to optimize an existing product? Your product journey is usually a sub-part of a more global user journey. Even if natural, narrowing your research only on your product sub-journey might make you miss several opportunities for your users.

6/ Dealing with lookalike users

Think about last times you tested a new feature or showcased a new prototype. How often did it happen with people “like you”, same age, same background, same company, same culture or same group of friends? Some of your users can often be opposite to yourself. Not including them in your research process will definitely make you miss key insights.



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Tech entrepreneur, Coach, Trainer | Founder @WILL, ex-CPO (Chief Product Officer) at ManoMano, ex Founding Partner at Artefact