User research isn’t easy, but it’s worth it

As designers, we can easily skip ahead to proposing and designing solutions but to ensure we design the right thing, we need to make sure we speak to the users first.

Post it notes illustration with examples of user insights on

Why bother with research

My research was aimed at understanding the low-code tool space more from the perspective of the developer community. As a designer, I’ve worked with plenty of developers, which means I could easily be biased into thinking I knew what needs or pains they had. Getting to know the users, their day-to-day role and why they were using solutions like Appsmith, meant I could find out what frustrations they faced when creating an internal tool. Speaking with even a few users allows us to design from empathy rather than design for our assumptions.

Doing research is more complicated than online articles make out

When I first started learning how to do user interviews and research, I always struggled with analysing the information generated. While learning, I had read a lot online about the process of researching and carefully followed articles about how to categorise and tag interviews to generate insights.

You won’t find the perfect quote from users

When I started learning about how to analyse interviews, I assumed that I would find the key or super important pieces of information in a sentence when tagging them. I thought I’d be like, ‘that’s it, that’s perfect, and that shows exactly what we need.’ And in reality, what happens is you find pieces of information, things that people have said or done, which ties to your theme in varying degrees. Ultimately, the goal of tagging data is to help you quickly pinpoint significant pieces of information around a theme. Whether that’s something you do the same day or a year later, it’s purely a reference point that you can come back to.

Dovetail has got you covered

When speaking with one of Appsmith’s designers, Momcilo, he told me about Dovetail’s tool for user research analysis. It’s something that I’ve seen floating around on Twitter before, but I’d never taken the time to look at its potential.

Screenshot of tagging a recorded usability test in Dovetail
Screenshot of tagging a recorded usability test in Dovetail
Screenshot of tagging a recorded usability test in Dovetail — From Dovetail website

The research is done, so what’s next?

Now that the research phase is complete, I will show Appsmith what I’ve been up to and present the findings. Delivering the insights back allows us to have a collaborative discussion to see whether anything was surprising to them. It also allows us to confirm or challenge the assumptions they had at the beginning of the research.

Writing about design and some other bits in between | Digital Product Designer Contractor at @RivalLondon| Event organiser for Triangirls | Formally at @Inktrap

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