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Fundamentally, every product or design is intended for a user: to address challenges, to make tasks easier, to improve their lives. The first step in creating effective designs is to understand people.

Well-executed user research helps designers see past our assumptions and find creative solutions. In many cases, you’ll be designing products for users who are different from yourself. Even if you are among your product’s intended users, user research can help broaden your perspective.

Design methodologies like design thinking, user-centered design, the double diamond diagram, and the product development life cycle may have different terms for the discovery phase of the design process, but they all emphasize understanding and empathizing with the user.

Engaging in user research helps designers and companies:

  • Develop products people actually need
  • Learn what users care about and what motivates them
  • Find gaps and pain points in the market or competitive landscape
  • Define exactly which problem to solve
  • Hone in on target users to determine who is most likely to benefit from a solution
  • Decide whether a product idea is actually adding anything useful

In this lesson, we’ll walk through how to get started with defining a problem and forming a research question, how to choose between user research methods during the early stages of the design process, and how to start planning out your research. Later on, we’ll dive even deeper into specific methods and sharing your research results.

Instructions

Press “Next” to start learning about different design research methods and approaches for understanding your target user.

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