Just Enough Research

As long as you’re clear about your questions and your expectations, don’t fret too much about the classification of the research you want to undertake. Remain open to learning at every stage of the process.

Optimistic people talk as though there is some sort of obvious, objective standard, but once you start thinking about what is truly optimal, you will find that it’s always subjective and you’ll always have to make trade-offs. This is why designers will never be replaced by machines.

The hardest competitor to beat is the one your potential customers are using right now. If they have to stop using that one to start using yours, they may incur a switching cost. People are lazy, forgetful creatures of habit. Your target customers have to love you more than they hate change.

If you’re constantly on the lookout for threats and potential points of failure, you and your products will be stronger.

Every internal design review is an opportunity for a mini heuristic evaluation.

If you don’t have enough information, or what you’re finding doesn’t quite hold together, the pieces will rattle around in your head. Ask a few more questions or talk to a few more people. Talk through the results. The pieces will fall into place. Learn to listen for that click.

At the very least, it’s up to everyone participating in the research to hold the line and not let interpersonal dynamics influence your findings. Watch out for those who would use information gathering for political purposes or as a popularity contest.

Your challenge as a researcher is to figure out how to get the information you need by asking the right questions and observing the right details.

Unlike heinous, contrived team-building activities—rope courses and trust falls—doing research together actually did make our team more collaborative.

Attention is the rarest resource and the one you need to survive.

Research is not antithetical to moving fast and shipping constantly. You’ll need to do some upfront work for background and strategy and the overall framework. Then, as the work progresses, do continual research.

try to identify your highest-priority questions—your assumptions that carry the biggest risk.

“Like” is not a part of the critical thinker’s vocabulary. On some level, we all want the things we do to be liked (particularly on Facebook), so it’s easy to treat likability as a leading success indicator. But the concept of “liking” is as subjective as it is empty.

Just Enough Research by Erika Hall