User research gives you an answer for whom is your product. Analysing potential users & customers will help to:
- understand users' needs, pains, motivations and decision-making process;
- outline product roadmap, key features, UI design and UX scenarios for interacting with your product;
- define the right marketing message (positioning) and choose marketing channels to spread this message;
- make your marketing & communication strategy.
I hope that I have convinced you that user research is very important. After learning these materials you should be able to make user research, create basic Persona and validate it on real people:
- How to Create a Concrete Buyer Persona Guide (with templates, tools, Examples, 188 survey questions) by optinmonster.
- How to Create Customer Profiles to Reach Your Target Audience by Greg Ciotti.
- Design-oriented video on performing basic user research.
- Empathy Mapping is one more technique, which widely used in UX for user research. This Practical Guide to Empathy Maps will give you a good overview of this approach.
You need to reach your potential users and validate your Persona & hypothesis. You can get real users insight through surveys, interviews, online & offline meetings, chats, Skype calls, checking existing analytics (Google Analytics, social media data), analyzing competitors' customers, ethical googling your users' emails & names and researching them on social media:
- 9-min video on creating a Persona, when you already have something to analyze: website, followers for your product on Twitter\Facebook, first users or paying customers.
- Simple blueprint for conducting a thorough buyer's journey study. It's a bit old article, but it has a nice plan for making user research interviews (study) with current or potential users.
- Asking the right questions during user research, interviews and testing will be in use when you actually start talking to potential user (😤 you must do this).
👆 User research is an initial part of customer discovery process. You should not only research your potential users but also test if what you want to build is needed on the market (it’s called Product Market Fit). If you are not familiar with Lean Startup approach, I advise you to check these resources. It's more startup-oriented, but still relevant for newbie product makers:
- Doing Customer Discovery video by Steve Blank.
- 16-min video from Stanford online course on Customer Development and Lean Startups.
- What is Customer Discovery? video from Coursera course. You can watch it without registration.
📌 Useful tools:
- Google search (here you will find how to make clever googling with advanced search).
- Twitter Advanced search and comprehensive guide how to use it.
- LinkedIn search and brief article from LinkedIn team on how to use their new search (it's very easy!).
- Pipl helps you to find information about email's owners.
- The Buyer Persona Word Doc Generator from HubSpot can help you to make the first hypothesis for your persona.
- TypeForm is an easy-to-use, mobile-optimized form-builder that's great for gathering online surveys