A Beginner’s Guide to Finding User Needs
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A Beginner’s Guide to Finding User Needs

UX research with qualitative methods on user motivations, activities and problems

About the Book

The Beginner’s Guide to Finding User Needs shows you to use qualitative research to learn about the motivations, activities and problems of (potential) users. It is written in a hands-on style. The book is written for UX researchers, UX designers and product managers.

You will learn:

  • How to prepare your research
  • How to involve your team members
  • Interviewing, observing and co-documenting user activities
  • Analyzing data to create guiding principles for product design
  • Communicating your research with posters, slidedecks and reports

For more material, see the book’s webpage

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  • Categories

    • Product Management
    • Design
    • Innovation Management
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About the Author

Jan Dittrich
Jan Dittrich

User Researcher, Anthropologist. Also some programming, and open source design.

Table of Contents

  • Research focused on understanding
    • Types of projects you can use qualitative research in
      • Research for open topic exploration
      • Research based on an idea for a new product or feature
      • Research based on an overhaul of a product or feature
    • Researching alone and together
      • Research for you
      • Research for a team
      • Research with a team
    • Understanding is a messy process
    • Summary
  • Preparing your research
    • What do you want to learn?
      • Writing a research project question
      • Writing research session questions
    • Get to know the field without going there, yet
      • Desk research
      • Talk to experts
    • Find people who participate in your research
      • Define recruiting criteria
      • Where does the research happen?
      • Payment and incentives
      • Plan how many participants you need
      • Recruit with an agency
      • Recruit by Yourself
    • Invite participants to the research sessions
      • Let participants know what to expect and ask them for their consent
      • Setting the date and time for the research session
    • Bad things that can happen—and how to prevent them
      • Preventing harm to participants
      • Preventing harm to yourself
      • Beyond individual harm: Ethics of project outcome
    • Writing your cheat sheet
    • Summary
  • Learning from research participants
    • Set up the research session
      • Remind participants
      • Prepare your note-taking and recording equipment
      • Brief your research partner
    • How to begin the research session
    • Ways to learn from participants
      • Listening and asking questions
      • Observing
      • Co-documenting
    • Ways to capture data
      • Notes and sketches
      • Taking photos
      • Recording audio
    • Assure and encourage
      • Affirm that you listen
      • Make a friendly impression by using body language.
    • Be open to how the participant works and thinks
      • Ask open questions
      • Do not suggest “right” or “wrong” answers or processes
    • Silence feels strange, but it’s okay
    • Take a closer look
      • Probing
      • Check your understanding
      • Ask for examples
    • Steer the course of research
      • Switch topics
      • Switch methods
    • Wrapping up a research session
    • After the research session
      • Debrief with your research partner—or alone
      • Supplement data from memory
      • Transcribe notes
      • Supplement from audio recordings
      • Pseudonymize your notes
      • Organize and archive your data
      • Next steps
    • Summary
  • Analyzing what you learned
    • Commonalities and contrasts
    • Doing the “right” analysis
    • A process for making sense of diagrams
      • Preparing diagrams
      • Finding commonalities and contrasts
    • Summarize what you learned
    • A process for making sense of notes
      • Organize notes hierarchically
      • Create meaningful groups
      • Prepare your notes for analysis
      • Annotate your notes
      • Decide whether data should be held by lines or sticky notes
      • Develop a first structure
      • Fill the structure
      • Revise the structure
      • Wrapping up your analysis
    • Summary
  • Sharing research results
    • Reports should be easy and quick to understand
      • Putting first things first
      • Easy-to-read style
      • Clear and helpful graphics
    • Common forms of documentation
      • Posters
      • Slide decks
      • Reports
      • Beyond reporting research results
    • Summary
  • Appendix
    • Learn (even) more
      • Books
      • Examples
    • Forms and Templates
      • Co-Documentation Templates

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