There’s a technical name for the absence of user research: Guessing.

by Jared M. Spool

Guessing is what decision-makers do when they don’t have user research to inform their decisions.

  • They guess who their users are.
  • They guess what their users need.
  • They guess what their users value.
  • They guess what challenges their users encounter.
  • They guess what it would take to overcome those challenges.

The problem with guessing is that the odds are against them guessing right.

It could happen. It’s just improbable.

Instead, they’ll probably guess wrong. Wrong guesses lead to mistaken beliefs.

  • They’ll believe their users are different than they turn out to be.
  • They’ll believe their users need something different than what they need.
  • They’ll believe their users value something other than what they love.
  • They’ll believe their users have challenges different from what challenges them.
  • They’ll believe their users need solutions different from what will solve their challenges.

Those wrong beliefs lead to wrong decisions. Those decisions lead to costs and delays that harm a project.

User research, on the other hand, informs decisions. Decision-makers can avoid guessing when they have rich user research to rely on.

  • They know who their users are.
  • They know what their users need.
  • They know what their users value.
  • They know what challenges their users encounter.
  • They know what it takes to overcome the challenges.

They know these things because the research tells them. If they’re not sure, more research will build their confidence. The more research they do, the better they know.

Some people think user research takes time, but guessing doesn’t. They think user research delays projects, but guessing keeps things moving. They think user research is expensive, but guessing is cheap. These people are wrong.

They don’t realize that guesses slow down projects. Without research, the team argues over whose guess is more likely correct. It takes time.

User research takes more time upfront than guessing but saves time in the long run. It gives the team the confidence to deliver a solution that customers love the very first time. It leads to industry-leading innovations that no competitor can match.

Because you can’t guess your way to delivering successful products.

Successful products can only come from informed decision-making. And informed decision-making can only come from solid user research.

Want to inform critical product and business decisions with in-depth user research?

About the Author

Jared M. Spool is a co-founder of Center Centre and the founder of UIE. In 2016, with Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman, he opened Center Centre, a new design school in Chattanooga, TN to create the next generation of industry-ready UX Designers. They created a revolutionary approach to vocational training, infusing Jared’s decades of UX experience with Leslie’s mastery of experience-based learning methodologies.

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