Intro & Overview to User Research | Zack Naylor | Skillshare

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Intro & Overview to User Research

teacher avatar Zack Naylor, UX, Research and Product Strategy

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Class Welcome and Intro

    • 2. Lesson 1: Creating Goals

    • 3. Lesson 2: Choosing Research Questions

    • 4. Lesson 3: Taking Great Research Notes

    • 5. Lesson 4: Finding Patterns and Themes

    • 6. Lesson 5: Creating Key Insights

    • 7. Lesson 6: Making Recommendations from Research

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About This Class

Whether you’re a UX designer or researcher, a product manager or leader, or you just want to learn the solid foundation of doing great customer research, this is the class for you.

You’ll learn how to plan user research, gather and organize your notes and data and how to turn it into action.  This class covers everything from creating product and design goals, choosing good research questions based on that, taking notes, creating insights and effectively turning what you learn from user and customer research into recommendations and action.

The skills and ideas in this class will help you better plan, analyze and act on what you learn from user research with your team and company.

For the class, you’ll use my template to create product, design and ultimately research goals to set your research up for success before you ever take a single note! Additionally, I will give you a fill in the blank template for how I have made every successful, research based design or product recommendation in my recent career!

There is no prior research experience required for this class.

Meet Your Teacher

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Zack Naylor

UX, Research and Product Strategy


Hey, I'm Zack Naylor, CEO and co-founder at Aurelius - the user research and insights platform for UX designers, researchers and product teams.

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1. Class Welcome and Intro: Hey there. I'm Zak Naylor, CEO and co founder of a rail IUs. The user research and insights platform for design product teams. This course I'm gonna teach you is all about the intro to user research. And I'm gonna teach you some of my high level fundamentals of how to do use a research, how to make sense of what you learned and then how to turn that into actionable advice. So, as I mentioned, I am the co founder of your alias, which is a user research and insights platform. Four folks just like you and I ux designers, researchers, marketers and product leaders. So I've also spent a lot of time over 10 years. In fact, doing design, research and strategy work for nearly every industry there is from companies the size of all the way down to one person with an idea in their basement, all the way up to fortune for 500 fortune 100 board rooms. And I can tell you that the single biggest thing that has helped me achieve any success in helping these people designed great products and experiences is solid user research and making mawr informed decisions. So I've been doing this work for a long time. I'm gonna teach you the way I approach every single project that has any kind of researcher strategy element to it. And I'm gonna walk you through step by step, how to do that? So thanks for checking out the course and we'll see you in less than one. 2. Lesson 1: Creating Goals: Hey there. Welcome to lesson number one of the instrument over you To use a research this lesson. We're gonna talk all about creating solid goals for your product and user experience. And I'm gonna walk you through my three step process to creating these goals to set your ideas up and your user research up for success before you ever get started. So let's dive in. Okay, So our first lesson is talking all about creating clear goals for your product and user experience before you ever do any user research. And this is a very critical step, because creating clear goals for your product and user experience really helps you give definition to your recommendations that you'll eventually make later. So basically excellent goals provide definition for what a good design or a good product decision is for. A good recommendation is later. It gives everybody the same language to talk about what it is you're trying to do and why you're recommending what you are recommending. When I break down goals and create these in projects myself, I do it in three parts. So the first part to a successful product or experienced goal is the goal statement itself , and that's quite simply, a statement of your goal or intention. And as you very quickly mentioned that the way you'll get information to create these goals is by having conversations with your business owners, your product owners or your stakeholders. Whoever those people are that you're working within four that can best help provide direction off what success will look like from the research you're doing and eventually the product or experience that you build. So the first part two that is simply asking, What is the goal of this project or the goal of this research? The next piece is success indicators, so success indicators are based on behavior. This is the stuff that we're going to see or hear or feel. If we're meeting that goal statement and then finally, metrics, This is the way that we plan to measure the success off that goal statement. Now, this is a big deal in breaking it down in three parts, and I'm gonna talk about why in a moment imagine you're having this conversation with a state quarter and you're talking with this business. And they say while our goal of this project is to encourage more people to sign up for our free trial. Maybe it's a software company and you're working on their marketing site in landing pages. The next question to ask based on this response is, Well, what sort of behavior would we see here and feel if there's more people signing up for a free trial now? A little caveat before we continue is that in creating gold statements, oftentimes you might get responses from people you're doing interviews with, like your stakeholders, where the gold statement will be something like a statement to increase or improve a specific metric or actual profitability targets on these air dangerous these air not effective gold statements because they're a little too prescriptive or they can be prescriptive of a specific solution. And this is dangerous because use a research in the work that you're about to do is meant to find that out and find out the right solutions or actions or recommendations to take, based on not only what's good for the business but also what you hear from customers. So again, the next question we ask is, then what will we see, hear or feel if we're meeting the goal of encouraging more people to sign up for a free trial. And we might hear some answers like, Well, we'll probably see more visitors to the free trial sign up page and will probably find more people filling out that form to sign up for a free trial. Great. Now, Part three should be relatively easy and almost self prescribed. Where we say, Well, what are the metrics we can use to measure those success indicators? And so here it becomes quite easy. We know more visitors to the free sauna. Free trial sign up page is important. We can measure that through page counting, unique views and then more people filling out the form. Well, we can actually just see the form submissions that count or the number of people filling out that form. So here is an example goal based on all the things we just discussed, the three parts in the way that I break it down. We have our goal statement, which is we want encourage more people to sign up for a free trial. The next question we ask is, What will we see? Hear, feel if we're meeting that goal? This is based on behavior and we might hear something like, We'll see more visitors to the free trial sign up page and more people filling out the free trial sign up form. And then finally, we ask, How will we measure that unique views? Page count, form submissions? Pretty straightforward. One thing to keep in mind is that you will likely have more than one goal statement set of success indicators and metrics for each project. So you may have more than one of these, and that's just okay again. I need to reiterate that creating goals upfront before you do research before you do your project is critical because it helps people make the connection between the eventual decisions and recommendations you make and their desired outcome for the project and the business. In short, creating goals in the way that I recommend helps you speak the same language is your business, and this will serve you very well and not only forming your research questions later, but also providing your recommendations and you'll learn about both of those things in the next lessons. So now I want to quickly walk you through the exercise that we've got for this lesson. You can download the gold template and fill this out for yourself. So again, just walking through, you'll be able to download this. So just check in the in the class lessons and you're gonna grab this. The first part is your goal statement. State your goal or intention, and here are some examples of that. You can also add a gold type Now. This is an optional step that I use to use in certain cases to help people understand what business drivers are important, like improving adoption or improving customer retention. But our second step, which is critical, are those success indicators again based on behavior, what you will see, hear and feel if you're meeting that goal and then finally, metrics how you're going to measure the success off those success indicators, which ultimately funnel up to your goal statement. And that's it. That is my three part goal creating template, and you can download that, and I would encourage you to fill out your project product user experience goals in that way and share them with the class. We have a conversation 3. Lesson 2: Choosing Research Questions: Hey there. Welcome to lesson number two and welcome back. So the previous lesson we talked about creating solid goals for your product and user experience and how that's gonna help us set up our research for better chance of success, as well as the recommendations that come from research for a better chance of success later on. So in this lesson, we're actually review that gold template once more, and we're gonna talk about how to create user research questions based on those goals that you just made. So let's dive in. All right. So, as I said, this lesson is about figuring out the research questions you have, and being able to put that together before you even start your research will help you be more focused in the data you collect and make sure that you're asking the right questions that will help you meet the goals of the business as well as figure out what your customers and users need. So we take a look and review our example Goal. One of them was to encourage more people to sign up for a free trial. Our success indicators for that were seeing more visitors to the free trial sign up page and more people filling out the free trial sign up form And we determined, would measure that through unique views. Page Count informs ambitions. I want to call your attention again to success indicators. This is such a big deal in the way that I recommend setting up goals and user research for very specific reasons. And those reasons are these success indicators are based on behavior. User research is all about understanding, needs and behavior. So now we have a set of ideal behaviour that would see if we're meeting our goal. This is a great place to start because very simply in figuring out our research questions, we asked ourselves, What do we need to learn in order to see this behavior? Find these success indicators occurring later? So some examples here if we break down the success indicators were talking about visitors and people, people visiting the site, people filling it out well, who exactly are those people? That's an example. Research question. What are the goals of those people? May be specifically teach thing, visiting a free trial sign up page or filling it out. Who is the ideal person to sign up. So these again are all research questions we may have, depending on the method that you choose, that would be appropriate to help us meet Ah, the goals of this product and experience that will eventually build additional questions that we might have again. Based off these success indicators, we're focused on a free trial sign up page. Well, does that page communicate the right message to the people that we want to have fill out that form and visit that page? Are they aware of the benefits of a free trial? Do they understand it in terms of straight usability? Is that form or page easy to find? Is it easy to use? So these are all really appropriate research questions that we could be asking in order to make sure we're getting the right data to meet the goals we have for a product and experience straight from our state quarters mouths. So we're setting ourselves up for success to make sure we collect the right data that will ultimately help us make great decisions and recommendations that will help not only our company but our customers as well 4. Lesson 3: Taking Great Research Notes: Hey there. Welcome to the next lesson. Uh, in the last lesson, we talked about creating research questions based on the goals we made all the way in the first lesson. This time we're gonna talk about actually conducting the research and how you gather data and take notes and create some tags and organizations schemes. You could do that more efficiently. So will speed up how fast it takes. You figure out what you learn from research later, so let's take a look. All right now that we have our goals set up and we've determined our research questions were ready to actually go and do the research. One thing I just want to stress here is you'll learn a lot and read a lot about doing user research. It could be very scientific and rigorous or could be very casual. Generally speaking, if you're working in the software world, make it simple and easy on yourself. Just go and talk with your customers and your users. There are absolutely situations where you should be more rigorous. As you do more research, you'll be able to determine when those times are, but in short, go and learn from people have a set of really good questions that will help you learn something that's good for the business and for them, Step three is to gather and organize your data. And this is simply going out and conducting interviews or usability tests or whatever your method might be, and actually taking notes and gathering data based on what you're looking to learn. I want to say something here before we get into it, because one of our customers at your alias, which is our own user research and insights tool, actually said to us one time, it's often faster and easier for me to do new research than it is to read through my past research studies, I mentioned this to you as a word of caution, to be a little bit more organized and mindful about how you gather data up front, because what it's gonna do is allow you to extend the shelf life of your information and what you learned. It will also help you analyse and synthesise this data later, which we'll talk about in the next lesson. But some things to keep in mind are to decide on a tagging or organization, or some people call it coding scheme ahead of time, and he should be based on your research questions. You should keep that data and those insights in a central, searchable place, and then finally, try and use a consistent format and or tool and how you're collecting this information, especially if you're doing this research with a team and again, the reasons for this, or is that it's gonna help you find themes faster and easier Later, it will help you see these patterns in what you learned faster and easier later, which means you can make sense of that faster and easier, and then ultimately you're gonna get to a better design and product recommendations or decisions sooner. And, of course, if it's in the central, searchable way, all in a nice organized format, you can actually get more shelf life out of the research insights that you do. So taking a look at some of the sample research questions that we had like does this page communicate the right message for the people that we want to sign up for that free trial? Do they know the benefits of a free trial and is the form or the page itself? easy to use. Is it easy to find we have some example tags or codes or ways we might even take our notes before we start here on the right. So, for instance, we might be taking notes about messaging. Things we hear from customers or for running usability. Test about the messaging doesn't make sense things about the free trial itself and the benefits of the free trial, straight usability issues or concerns, and then, finally, the process of signing up. So again, I bring these up because you can and should be taking your notes gathering data according to these categories or tags as you're conducting your research to help you make better sense of it faster and easier later on. That's it for this lesson. Next one will dive into just exactly how you figure out what you learned. Once you've gathered all this data in the way that I'm recommending, so you can create key insights later 5. Lesson 4: Finding Patterns and Themes: Hey there. Welcome to the next lesson in intro. An overview to use a research. So last time we talked about actually gathering data from your research. All of that was built on the questions we made from the first lesson where we decided on the goals for a product and user experience and how to build those. So this time in this lesson, we're gonna talk a little bit about how you figure out what you learned from user research and the data that you gathers. We're gonna be talking about how you find themes and patterns and what to do with that to go from raw data to insights. So let's dive in. All right, now that you've gone off and actually gathered all of your data from user interviews, usability, testing, field study surveys, whatever method you used to conduct your research, you've got a bunch of data. It's time to figure out what you learned. You do that by creating themes, understanding the meaning behind that data and ultimately then generating insights. From what you learned. The first thing that you need to do is find themes and patterns in the data that you've got so when taking a look at what you learned. It's those patterns or frequently seen or heard items in the data. This is gonna be stuff that we saw, you know, and or heard many times. Yeah, patterns and themes are the things we saw or heard that may be related toe others with. So there's connections there, and we're trying to create meeting from that. If we take a look at some example themes here, we can use them as as a way of understanding how we then figure out we learned from the data. We got it in user research. So in the research that we did regarding people signing up for a free trial of our product , the research we conducted, some themes emerged as we're looking at this data, and maybe six or seven times we heard potential customers visit the product page and bounced between the free trial sign up page and the product page again and again. Maybe this was some usability testing, right? So there's a pattern there. People went to that page and then took product page and then back again. Another theme from that data as an example, could be that some people had multiple browser windows open, in fact, with competitors off the site that we're researching both during and right before filling out the free trial form. So maybe we saw that or something related four or five times. And then finally, another example theme might be that potential customer reported waiting until quote unquote the right time to sign up for a free trial. Maybe we heard that a bunch of times anytime, anywhere, between nine and 12 times. Just as an example, we're putting actual counts to the number of times that we heard something that's fits this theme. So theme one is about bouncing between the free trial page and the product page. Theme. Two is about seeing people with other windows open of competitors. We saw frequency or pattern there. And then finally, theme three is that there waas mention of sort of this right time in creating their free trial. Okay, so when we're analyzing this, it's great that we've got those themes, and that is the first step. Next, we want to review them and ask ourselves why those themes exist, right? What's important about what we found there in the patterns or frequency And then, most importantly, how did those themes? How are they relevant in helping us meet the goal that we established at the beginning off this project? So if we take a look at our example themes here, some questions we might ask ourselves in order. Start analyzing this data in making sense of it. We saw people visiting the product page sign up page the product page kind of bouncing back about. We could simply ask. Well, why did people bounce between the free trial and product pages? And this creates a discussion, even either with ourselves or with our team to start putting meaning behind a pattern or frequency in the data. Our next example. Some people had multiple browser windows open, maybe even of competitors, while trying to fill out the free trial sign up. Form a question. There it would be. Why would they have multiple competitors sites open while signing up for our free trial? And then finally, we saw or heard customers reporting something about the right time to sign up for a free trial. This poses a couple of interesting questions for us. Why would they feel like they need to have the right time. What is the right time for them? And why would that right time matter? So asking these questions after you've discovered patterns and themes in some sort of frequency in your data help you start to put meaning to it because generating insights from raw data or simply patterns alone answers the question of what? But it doesn't answer the question of why, in the next lesson, we'll talk about generating key insights to actually communicate what you learned and communicate that meaning you put behind research data. 6. Lesson 5: Creating Key Insights: welcome back and welcome to this lesson on creating key insights. So just to recap the last lesson, we talk a little bit about how to figure out patterns and themes in your data to start making sense of it in order to form key insights and the things that you're actually going to share. This lesson will dive into specifically what you should share from user research and how to figure those things out from the patterns and themes and the data you collected. They're called Key and Slates. We're gonna talk all about them in this lesson, so let's get started. Alright, it's time to talk about creating key insights and sharing what you learned from user research in this lesson. Now, if we take a look at our example themes from last time, some things that we saw in terms of patterns in frequency and the data were that potential customers visited the product page and then the free sign up page and sort of bounced back and forth between those a few times. The 2nd 1 was that they had multiple browser windows open with competitors sites while they were filling out the form for our free trial. And then finally, we heard people mention this idea of the right time to sign up for free trial. Ah, bunch. So those are the three themes we had in the example from the previous lesson? I want to start off with reminding you again of a word of caution. Here is that once you get to this point, it's very tempting to share this information as what you learned or to share it as their insights. Where the takeaways from your user research. And beware of doing this because providing a correct solution to the incorrect problem is dangerous reacting. The themes in of themselves can actually lead you to the wrong solution, so just keep that in mind. You're not quite done yet, but you're very, very close. Decisions based on that raw data can be dangerous because, as we mentioned before, it's reacting to what, instead of the why. So now that we're ready to create key insights, A little bit of a recap, insights are that why the key insights are answers to the research questions that you have that ultimately help us figure out how we elicit that behavior? Were the success indicators of the goals we've got. So now you see, this is how we start to tie everything together to get the right answers to the right questions to solve the right problems. That's what user experience design is all about. And that's the role user research place. So tag and organize your research notes, feedback and observations right? Review those groups to find patterns and themes. These are all things we talked about in the last last lessons, and then ask yourself questions as to why those patterns exist. And we gave some examples of that in the previous lesson. In short answers to those questions as to why your patterns and themes exist is a key insight in a key insight to me. In the example, I often give visits some raw data, and then context is toe. Why that data exists, why we had those observations and research that is an insight, and I want to share a quick story to help really drive home the importance of key insights and creating them. In this way, it's a story from the famous American writer Nora Ephron. She remembers one day of her high school journalism class, the teacher came in and wrote down Who, what, when, Where, Why on the blackboard, he was teaching students how to write the lead or the first sentence of a paragraph for a news story. He starts to dictate several facts about the story, and I have them written here. Kenneth L. Piers. The Principle of Beverly Hills High School announced today that the faculty of the high school will travel to Sacramento on Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Speaking there will be anthropologist Margaret Mead and Robert Medard Hutchins, the president of University of Chicago. Now, this point, Nora and the rest of the students began writing their lead, mostly by rearranging the facts that the teacher had just read out loud. They all turned in their leads to the teacher who, sitting at his desk, and he quickly scans them all and tosses him right into the trash in front of the students . He stands up and says the lead of the story is that there will be no school. On Thursday, Sonora recalls the story finally and credits it to having a big impact on her career as a writer. She said it was breathtaking moment In that instant, I realized journalism wasn't just about regurgitating the facts but figuring out the point . It wasn't enough to know the facts. Who, what, when, where, why you have to understand what it meant and why it mattered. That is a key insight. It's not just a regurgitation of the facts or the patterns or the frequency. It's understanding why it matters. I took a quick screen shot here as an example. Key insight you might pull as answers to your questions, your research questions. This is a screenshot from our tool or alias again, user research and insights platform for folks just like us Now. The key insight here is from actual research I did in conducting customer research and trying to figure out how people share their research. Very meta, I know. But the insight is design teams or creating reports to share research findings, and we have some supporting notes or data again. So there's data plus context, equal insight. We have a couple notes there that actually talk about, um why this key insight is what it is. So finally, key insights from user research are some statement of learning, plus supporting data or evidence to back up what it is that you learned and give context for people to help them understand why it is that you learned what you learned. 7. Lesson 6: Making Recommendations from Research: okay, you made it. This is the last lesson in the intro and overview to user research. And so last time we talked about how to create key insights from your user research data, which came from your patterns and themes, and all of that was built on the goals we built in the first lesson for a product and user experience in the questions that we made based on that. So now you're at the point where you've got key insights, you ready to share them and make some recommendations. We're gonna talk about how to turn user research insights into action. And I'm gonna give you the actual template in way that I present this for the greatest chance of success in every project that I work on. So let's take a look. All right, we're here at the final episode where we're ready to talk about how we can align the research key insights you made to your goals to then make better design product in feature decisions or recommendations. So, in the last less than we talked about creating key insights from your research and doing so from looking at the patterns and themes that you had and asking questions around why those things exist. Why does it matter? How is it relevant to your goals? I want to give you a couple example. Insights from the example, data and example goals have been using. So the 1st 1 here from the last lesson, we had a pattern or theme that potential customers visited our product page, and we're bouncing back and forth between the free trial sign up page and the product page . We asked ourselves why they were doing this right. Why we saw that pattern or theme and an example. Key insight might be that prospective customers are likely hoping to review our product features before signing up for free trial. So that's interesting. Another one here. We reviewing the pattern or theme that some of those people reported waiting until the right time this idea of the right time to sign up for a free trial. And so we asked ourselves the questions of why would somebody feel like they need to wait until it's the right time? What is the right time, You know, why does that matter? And again, example key insight here may have been that they're worried that they don't have enough time to review our product during the free trial, so they're waiting for the right time to sign up to get the most out of the free trial. So taking a look back at our example goal and the way we broke that down in the three parts we discussed in the first lesson is we're trying to encourage more people to sign up for a free trial. Our success indicators there or behavior is that we'll see more visitors to the sign up page for the free trial, and we'll see more people actually filling out that form and will measure that with our metrics by unique views. Page count form submissions. This lesson is all about making recommendations, making smart decisions, turning research into action. Every recommendation you make should clearly show how to impact one of your success indicators orm or one or more of your success indicators. Because this is the behavior we all agreed will indicate success that we're meeting our overall goal. So then my formula, in the way I recommend creating your most successful ideas, is simply conveying the benefit, plus the confidence plus the action or the thing you should do about it. So let's talk about what that means. The benefit is the business school or the success indicator. This is what's going to happen if we do this thing. The confidence is your relevant key insights that you gathered informed from your user research. Then the action is simple. It's the thing you recommend we do to address and benefit both. So let's put this into practice. I have a mad lib style, uh, template, and this is the exact way that I actually make recommendations for design and product teams at all. The companies I've worked with you start off by saying, I recommend we insert your design product idea your recommendation because we learned insert your supporting key insight from your user research. This will help us affect some success indicator or multiple so that we can meet our overall goal that we discussed. So let's put that into practice once again, taking a look at our example Goal. Our success indicators here are getting more people to visit the free trial sign up page and more people filling out that form so that we can encourage them to sign up for a free trial. So we use one of our key insights and our example goals. One of our recommendations might be something like this. I recommend that we display a feature greater table off on a free trial sign up form to remind customers of what we offer because we learned prospective customers are likely hoping to review our product features before signing up for a free trial. This will help us in getting more people to fill out the free trial, sign up form so that we could encourage more people to sign up for a free trial. And yet another example. We're using our sample data and key insights and goal is I recommend we offer a free trial period extension and provide messaging for that on the sign up page. Because we learned prospective customers are worried they might not have enough time to review our product during the free trial. This will help us see more people filling out that form so that we can encourage them to sign up for our free trial. It is a simple is that in this formula seems very basic and obvious, but this only works when you do all of the hard work of setting up really clear, solid goals for your product and experience doing research that helps you answer questions about how to meet those goals and then simply presenting it back in a clear, well thought out way, such as I presented here. I'll leave you with one final piece of advice when making design product Feature recommendations in the work that you do have a clear separation between the what and the how often you'll get in the meetings and discussions with people on your team or in the company off what we should be doing in a project Now. We've just made a couple recommendations, for example, that we should offer a free trial period extension in message that on the sign up page. So that's the what? How we go about doing that is often a deeper design detail. Research can and should inform how we execute on that. But make sure you separate those conversations. So, in short, keep a clear separation and get agreement on the what should we offer a free trial extension. If the answer is yes, get everybody to agree on that. Then start discussing the how it'll keep your conversations, uh, to to your product and feature and design reviews very focused. And it will eliminate a lot of the arguments and debates because you have already agreed that what you should do now you're just simply discussing the best way to do that. And if you want, take a look at the mad Libs. Fill in the blank template on how to make recommendations. You can download that as part of the lesson, and I very much hope that you enjoyed the intro and over you to use a research lesson and fall on my profile and feel free to post any questions below and happy user research.