Why Research Matters

I guarantee that someone in your organization is going to come up to you one day and say: “Why are we spending time with this? I know what we need to build.”

There are dozens of really great books and articles and talks about solving this problem. What I’ve found works best is to approach it in three clear ways.

1. Every interface we create is based on a series of decisions.

Without accurate data to work off of, we’re building in the dark using unproven assumptions and gut feelings. Research is the light that shows us which problems to solve, how to solve them, and ultimately if our solution will actually work.

How could we possibly build a successful product if we just guess at everything along the way? Ignoring users is how companies release terrible products, features, and redesigns.

2. Research let’s us move quickly and confidently in a product direction that is proven.

It prevents us from having to regularly refactor major parts of an experience. We can more regularly understand a new product from soup to nuts before we start building the MVP. Understanding a north star – based in empirical, user-centered research can make even large, multi-year projects a breeze.

I’ve done enough last minute field research trips, only to come back to scrap months of work. Building blindly is the easiest way to end up burning millions of dollars while feeling like you’ve been productive.

Let’s not waste months of your, your product manager, and your engineering team’s time. Time is money. Which is power. Which is pizza. Which is knowledge. That we don’t have. (Until we do research.)


3. We are building experiences for people who are not like us, we can never assume we understand what they need without engaging them.

No matter if we are designing for our own team members, external partners, and clients, none of our product designers or product managers can completely represent the views and needs of our users.

At Holgoram, Flexport, and Inkling, I could never count myself as a user. Enterprise software makes it easier to erase the façade that you know what’s best. If you work for a social network or large technology company, it might be possible for you to use your own software every day. Don’t let that closeness to a product cloud your judgement. You are unlike 99.999% of your users out there.

Let’s ask people who are actually gonna use our product if this works for them.