Have you heard these before? We have. Here are some excuses on why people avoid user research.
It takes too long
There are many methods that can be used for user research. Some of them, like a multi-country ethnographic study, will take long. But there are many other methods that can be carried out in weeks, days, even hours. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish, a few hours or even days to get it right is a very high ROI. Shipping the wrong feature fast provides no value to your users.
There’s no budget
This is similar to the It takes too long argument. An international survey with 20,000 participants followed by in-person interviews will cost a lot. But that is a very rare project. A majority of your research needs we observe in our modern work environment can be addressed with budget-friendly methods, iteratively, without compromising quality. Ask yourself: do you have the budget to design and develop your product twice?
We are not researchers
We’ll let you in on a secret. Once upon a time, none of us were researchers! Research, like any other discipline, is a learnable skill. Your title does not have to be researcher to do research, and you don’t need a science or a design degree.
We don’t have a usability lab
It’s good that you do not have a usability lab, spend your budget elsewhere! It is better that you go to your users and become a part of their daily life to understand their usage within context, instead of a glass room.
If your research question calls for these, yes you need a usability lab. But those questions are not the most common research questions we see.
This is completely new
The team is excited about their new, from-scratch project. They feel that they do not need to do user research, because this is completely new and novel. That there is nothing to compare it against. That could be true, but there are ways to gather feedback from your potential users even if the product is completely new. Also, you are taking on significant risk if your new product meets the users for the first time at the time of production. Getting early feedback and making changes while you can creates a much better product.
But it’s just a small change
Many small changes accumulate over time to create big changes. It is great that your organization can ship small changes and ship them quickly, but that does not change the fact that you are serving a new experience to your users. Small changes can and should be validated through user testing.
There are more for sure, I’m sure you have some you could add to this. Remove the ego from your product efforts and let the evidence from your research guide your product.