The 5.1 Miracles of Research
Why you can’t skip this step when bringing a product to market
“You can have a million-dollar idea, but if people aren't going to buy your product or service, it is worthless.” — Entrepreneur
Research is an invaluable part of bringing a product to market, but for some unfathomable reason, it’s a part a lot of entrepreneurs tend to skip or pay lip service to. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, they become obsessed with it to the detriment of more valuable ways to spend their time, and begin to worship data as a deity above even their own common sense.
We insist you do research, but we always advocate for a lean approach, and an objective attitude toward data. Done right, market research can put you on the right track without costing you a lot of time and money.
Behold the 5.1 Miracles of Research:
1. The Prototype Miracle
Research can provide you with reactions from users while your product is still in the conceptual or prototype phase. Prototypes can be quick and dirty—something you mock up in a few hours. You don’t have to overthink it. You don’t need a functioning app to test it on users; you can simply mock up your idea in Powerpoint or Keynote. At this point, you’re just looking for a good read on user response to the idea of the thing—not the thing itself.
Don’t overthink it.
2. The UX Miracle
Research can make the user experience of your product infinitely better throughout the building process. Testing features as you go, and being willing to refine them, is key to an iterative build process that results in user-first products.
For instance, everyone seems to be using expandable hamburger menus on their websites these days because they work well on mobile devices without taking up a lot of space. But consider your audience. Are you building a tool for aging Baby Boomers with failing eyes? They might have a hard time finding and using that hamburger menu.
Testing makes sure that your assumptions are correct. Just because it’s worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s right for your product.
Testing is key to an iterative build process.
3. The VD/IxD Miracle
In the digital product space, look and feel are nearly as important to consumers as function, as Apple, Tesla, Google, and Amazon have all proven. Research can quickly identify red flags in your visual design (VD) and interactive design (IxD). It’s far easier for your design team to fix problems early on.
4. The Validation Miracle
Men or women. Apple or Android. Young or old. Activity. Education.
Research can properly define your target audience—something you have probably already conceptualized, but are you sure you’re right? If you’re wrong, research is the place to find out.
5. The Competitive Advantage Miracle
Despite everything, many of your competitors won’t bother to conduct research, insteading trusting their blind assumptions. If you’re the only one doing it, you have a competitive advantage over the others.
Be the one doing research.
So what’s Miracle 5.1? Well, research can end arguments. Perhaps there’s a feature of your application, or the design, or the UX, that you and your partner don’t agree on. You both feel very strongly about your opinion, and no one wants to budge. With research comes a winner. Rather than arguing about it forever, put it to the absolute truth of user testing.
For more on the value of research to creating user-centric digital products, read our book Got Ideas? Turning Your Ideas into Products People Want to Use.