User Research

Principles I Operate On

The most important part of the design process is understanding the problem and empathizing with the user. The more thoroughly you connect with the problem, the more confident you can be that you’re delivering the right solution to the user.

Empathy for the user places them higher in the organizational political structure, flattening the team. When users are at the top of the hierarchy, teams are more meritocratic.

Inclusive user research that is documented for ease of understanding increases product IQ team wide. Teammates understand the reasoning behind design and engineering decisions, enabling everyone to have more to offer to the process.

In short, user empathy improves every aspect of the organizational culture and product.


Interviews are the best way to discover unknown unknowns. User interviews illuminate details of personas and product requirements you cannot effectively learn about in any other way.

Quality user research enables deeper user engagement and wider adoption of the product. User understanding and empathy sharpens the intuition of engineers, designers, marketers, and business dev teammates to correctly make the countless decisions needed for the user.

Extreme users are the ones whose needs and wants are going to be easiest to detect. Most of the time other users share the same things in common with extreme users, they just don’t feel it as acutely. Designing for the extreme users is an effective strategy - they will be your most loyal ones.


The correct number of interviews to conduct is however many needed to start hearing the same things. Once you have determined what people in your target segment are saying, you can be confident with the insights you’ve gathered.

Once you start hearing the same things, you’re prepared to administer surveys. If statistically significant data is what your team needs, your interview findings should be sufficient to cover nuances in a survey.

The stages of conducting user interviews and usability tests are:

  1. Planning
  2. Recruitment
  3. Facilitation
  4. Transcription
  5. Analysis
  6. Synthesis (with other documentation)

See how these stages are broken down in more detail here.



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