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Why you cannot afford to skip UX Research

Adam Wallat
Adam Wallat
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Skip research at your own risk

You will hear me explaining the value of UX Research and the ROI of doing research continuously at any chance I can get. But today I want to turn things on its head to illustrate my point.

I want to make it plain obvious why heavily relying on research insights is not only a clear recommendation but an actual necessity to not go out of business.

So let’s imagine for a moment that a business owner is hell bound to ignore any type of research activity as they feel that it would slow them down (this does happen frequently with traditional siloed research approaches). In order to be fast, one needs simply to put things out there. After all, many startups have done exactly that. Many failed but some made it out on the other end right? Except, can they afford to fail? Do they have investors that would simply shrug it off afterwards? Do they have another million dollar business idea up their sleeves? Either way, one would avoid at all cost to sink time and money into something that could instead be well received from day on, if they had the means to.

There is no decision without an assumption

As a business Owner who offers a digital solution of any kind to their customers (an App, an online booking service, an e-commerce platform, or even just a simple marketing website) they have at some point made a decision to create that product and launch it.

But what gave them confidence to launch it?

Knowing what and when to launch always requires some type of demand & supply assumption, like:

  • This product is going to be super well received because there is no such offering on the market yet. Underlying Assumption: demand is high because there is no supply. Or…
  • The Service I can offer is so useful that the demand for it will skyrocket once the word gets out. Underlying Assumption: When supply is available, demand will be created fast

These assumptions might be valid but they cannot know for sure. Maybe it is a 50/50 chance or even worse

Let’s say they have come to a point where theirs teams assumption has found some type of validation (through existing customer feedback, a research study they read, an online article or a good friend telling them) and they are briefing a team to design and code their idea and you launch it into the world.

Escalation of commitment: The more we invest in an idea, the more committed we become to that idea.

Theresa Torres

How can you be sure that you offer is the best solution for the demand that you are trying to cater to?

Obviously they can’t. And that is the high risk of launching products without research. Of course they’ll get the chance to rework after the initial wave of customer feedback has hit them. But it will be both very costly and time consuming. And on top of that they will have to motivate disappointed alpha customers to buy into their idea again…

So why on earth would they want to waste your time and resources like that?

Confirmation bias: We are more likely to seek out confirming evidence than we seek out dis-confirming evidence.

Theresa Torres

Confirmation Bias drives our actions

From their perspective the assumption is all but questionable since they have spend so much time convincing themselves of the value and the business opportunity in their product. Their brain will try to keep them from destroying this idea to avoid feeling disappointed. So even though they objectively have no reason to believe that this will be a 100% success they act and invest their time and resources as if it is the case. So no wonder they build it and launch it like there is no tomorrow. Fail early, fail fast, try again next week? Except, there is another way that will still allow businesses to launch a product with minimal resources while delivering a solution that people will actually love.

Start to think research driven

Eventually lets look at ways to avoid what I have just outlined above.

You might have guessed it. The antidote for assumption based product development is a research driven design approach. You will still work with assumptions but after you have identified them they will be turned into hypothesis that can be validated. These will then inform the type of solutions your will try to offer. Eventually leading to a solution that is well received and adopted by your customers which allows you to build a proper working prototype and further validate your product before launching it into your customers hands.

The fruit of discovery work is often the time we save when we decide not to build something

Theresa Torres

Make learning your default

Key Takeaways

If you take away anything from this post it should be these points:

  1. Every team operates on basic assumptions
  2. Product success depends on these assumptions being valid
  3. You should map these assumptions and turn them into testable hypothesis
  4. Confirmation Bias can be neutralized with Customer Insights
  5. Listening to your customers will improve your products experience and make it more profitable

Read further

If this scenario sounds somewhat familiar or you are planning to build something that would greatly benefit from early insight into your customers motivations and behaviors then check out my series on research driven design below or shoot me a message. I am always there to help and get you started on your customer centered product journey.


Adam Wallat
Adam Wallat

Co-Founder, Head of User Experience

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