The product manager and lead engineer were happy when I joined the team. When I talked with them about the study I planned, they seemed interested. We agreed on interviewing 40 people with the goal of identifying user needs and uncovering current product pain points.
The product manager wanted to use the results to help develop a detailed specifications document, which will guide the development team. I planned a study that involved four groups of participants – teenagers, students, high-tech employees, and senior citizens. I prepared a detailed discussion guide, then recruited and scheduled all 40 participants by myself. Some of the study sessions were held in our offices and some at users’ homes. The product manager and lead engineer did not observe or join any of the interviews. I didn’t care so much. I was so excited about this project.
When I was done, I sat down to analyze the huge amounts of data. It took me three weeks to complete, and in the end I proudly published a detailed report complete with screenshots, in-context pictures of users, video highlights, quotes, findings, smart insights, and recommendations.
The results collected dust.
I gave a presentation to the entire team, during which the lead engineer and some other team members argued that my data was flawed and that they thought we should develop things other than what I was suggesting. Someone said something about the users that I interviewed and that they were not the right audience. The product manager just sat there and didn’t say a word. In the following weeks, the product manager published a specification document and the team began developing the product. The document was not based on my study findings and recommendations – far from it. I heard from someone that the product manager interviewed some people, but I had no idea who, how many, or what questions were asked.
I felt really bad. Actually, a more accurate description is that I was very angry. How could they behave like that? How could this happen? Why did they not follow my recommendations? They were acting like typical product managers and engineers, I thought to myself. They just can’t develop empathy toward users. All they care about is what they think.
- Treat any UX research as the team’s research, not yours;
- If they feel it’s theirs as much as you feel it’s yours, you are on the right track;
- Ensure the study either answers specific research questions, or helps cover a team knowledge gap, or helps drive a team decision;
- Have the team decide which participants should be included in the study;
- Schedule the study in a place and time that is convenient for your team.
Share your war stories in the comments below.
Getting Buy-in for UX Research workshop
Tomer Sharon will be giving a a half-day interactive workshop for researchers, designers, and anyone who practices UX research and wants to get more buy-in. The workshops will be held on September 21 at LeanUXDenver and on September 25 at The Web and Beyond.