3 Questions Not to Ask in User Research

User research is the starting point in designing any product. Insights into the needs and behaviors of real users are invaluable. Collecting, understanding and applying these insights play a big part in the success of a project.

Yet research can be both expensive and time consuming. Money and time are commodities that few projects can afford to waste. So when investing resources on user research, you must ensure that you gain as much value as possible.

People like to give their opinions. They also tend to have an inherent desire to please others. Even the most well intentioned respondent can give misleading responses. They can be influenced by something as simple as the way a question is framed. This will result in feedback which is useless as it doesn’t reflect reality.

In his post, Jared Spool sets out three types of questions that shouldn’t be asked during user research in order to ensure the quality of the research.

  1. Don’t ask anything about the future – What people say they’ll do and what they’ll actually do, is usually not the same thing. Instead, a better way of predicting future behavior is to look at what the user has done in the past
  2. Don’t ask how they’d design a feature  – While they may be the ones who ultimately use the product, it doesn’t mean they know exactly what they want. Even when they have some idea of what they want, they’re unlikely to be aware of all the different types of constraints or any other factors that go on behind the scenes.
  3. Don’t ask by providing a reason in the question – These types of leading questions give a respondent an easy way out. It signals to them an easy response to the question that they can give without having to think for themselves.

Conducting user research is something that is dependent on the time and money available to spend on it. It takes effort to design and recruit for it. It’s important that the time devoted to research with participants is time well spent. Even if resources are not a limitation, correct user research methods are still critical to any project. Incorrect user research can result in feedback that is misleading or outright wrong. Work that carried out on the back of such research can end up destroying a project.

Read more at the source “Three Questions You Shouldn’t Ask During User Research” via UIE.

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