Customer insight in 12 hours or less

User-centered design is part of any modern design process. Yet we still encounter brands that are unsure about how to include this as part of their product development practice.
Or worse yet, still don’t consider involving existing or potential customers to get first-hand user insight to drive design decisions.
There’s a load of different ways user research can be achieved, from ethnographic studies to surveys and another dozen activities in between. There are thousands of articles on UX research methodologies, but what can you do when you need insight fast or need a global perspective and can’t go out to get it?
At Tangent, we always get user insight to feed our ideas, if only to ground what we do in reality. And so, in these times of quarantines, here’s how we go about doing this from the comfort of our own homes.

1- Target the right community

There are great companies whose main service is to find and invite the right type of users to be part of your research. If you’ve got time (and money!) it’s definitely a route you can go down.
But if you’re looking for a quick turnaround, using a bit of creativity might get you exactly what you need.
We recently were looking for people who use co-working spaces to be part of our research. Whilst looking for people locally wouldn’t have been an issue, we wanted to speak to someone based in North America. And so, we turned to the platform that lots of start-up and scale-up companies (those who may be in these co-working spaces) use: Slack.
Time taken: 30 minutes

2- Reach out to groups and offer a small incentive

We posted a message in various open communities on Slack explaining what we were looking to do and how much time we would require from participants. We made information about ourselves readily available so potential candidates could trust that we were serious about our research.
Oh- and we offered a $50 Amazon voucher as a token of appreciation. We’ve often found that we get quicker responses when some kind of incentive is part of the exchange.
Time taken: 60 minutes

3- Send invitations with conference call details

Ninety minutes later, we had a several participants up for it. We had quick chats with them on Slack to understand their current situation and ended up booking 3 users to participate in our research. We sent through online conference call details and ensured that they would be comfortable to share their screens with us, so we could do simple usability testing on the current application.
Time taken: 90 minutes

4- Record the conversation

Make sure you warn the user and that they give you permission to record what they’ll say. We often do this as there’s quite a lot to take in when you trying to understand the ‘why’ someone is doing what they are doing, as well as track what they are doing on screen.
Not only does doing this allow you to go back to the footage, but you can also cut clips to share with the client so they can hear the feedback “from the horse’s mouth”.
Time taken: 45 minutes (per interview)

5- Map out what you’ve heard

Now’s the time to put pen to paper and document what you’ve heard, step-by-step, into a customer journey map. Consider the channel they used, the action they took, the thought-process they may have shared with you, and the potential challenges they faced.
Time taken: 60 minutes (per interview)

6- Identify opportunities

The customer journey map will provide you with a wide-angle view of their end-to-end journey. For each step, there’s often an opportunity for improvement. And if a number of participants have highlighted the same issue, it gives you an early indication that a particular point of the journey should be considered as an area of focus.
This is the time to get creative and to come up with lots of ideas that you could test in further research or consider in an optimisation backlog.
Time taken: Between 90 to 120 minutes (depending on the length of the journey)
So there you have it- it’s possible to get valuable customer insight in a day’s work. With digital tools available today, there’s a lot that can be done from your laptop. And whilst our ‘quick and dirty’ approach may not give us a wide sample of users, it definitely gives us something to start with- and that’s always better than having nothing at all.