Research ain’t clickbait

The purpose isn’t to shock and awe you. You may even guess what will happen next. Or at least, you won’t be surprised. This is okay! It doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.

Recently, I was part of two foundational research studies, each for different products. In both, I heard different co-workers say the same thing, that they were disappointed they didn’t find anything particularly surprising. To be honest, I kinda felt the same.

Since then, I’ve changed how I approach research. I now ask myself, what didn’t turn up? What assumptions was I working from before that none of our customers even mentioned? How are my mental models completely different from the business owners we serve? What problems have I been ignoring?

When research practices are first introduced, it feels as though all your efforts will yield eye-popping results and your team will have the answers to everything. In some ways it will, but probably not how you may think. Instead of revealing something you’ve never heard before, it will more likely just narrow your focus. You’ll go from thinking about your product or feature in 10 different ways down to 4. Embrace that.

By Kelly Hoffman

Design @ Automattic


>“Since then, I’ve changed how I approach [user] research. I now ask myself, what *didn’t* turn up?”


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