UX talks are not rare these days in Berlin. Most are fairly forgettable. I'm glad I have not missed Tomer Sharon session organised by überproduct and Wooga.
As far as I could see, the deck presented was the same as the one from Google I/O 2014.
Lean, user research, yadda, yadda
The delivery was predictably slick. The ground covered pretty well understood. User research. Lean startup stuff. Unless you have been living under a rock, you've heard it.
Even if you throw in great overview of the three principal lean research techniques (experience sampling, observations, fake doors), as well as a few handy tips on how do them - it is still a pretty familiar story.
Product folk tell the darndest things
Precisely herein lays the problem. As the Tomer's survey of 150 app developer shows, we all know this stuff. We even know in which order to test it.
Yet, the basic "wrong plan, perfectly executed" scenario keeps happening. Over and over again.
Why? Two issues I can think of :
- hybris; and
- research illiteracy.
Tomer was close to it that the reasons are "trusting your own intuition". Put more sharply, the hybris of thinking you know or care more about the problem, coupled with the entitlement of wanting to build rather than research.
The fact that apparently the same approach worked out just fine for Steve Jobs probably does not help on this point either. I'm stressing apparently, and I've blogged on this in the wake of the Ive biography.
Research technique illiteracy
The other reason also transpired through the discussion - lack of familiarity with executing basics of research techniques
We still fret about irrelevant stuff.
We worry about optimal research budgets or research specialist fees without considering that every single technique deployed now has a cheap, low-fi version.
After all, even Google researches swears by remote user testing services and they have all dedicated user research labs and other resources at their disposal.
We worry about representative sample rather than thinking of the design of the user enquiries, particularly in user surveys. As speaker put it very well:
"how many people stumbling over a fold in a carpet would you have to observe to straighten up the carpet".
Research up or put up
So, we all know what we ought to be doing. We just need to do solid research at the right time or shut up if we find out too important things far too late on in the game.