The discovery of user zero
So, how did they get there?
- They had identified two user types—a basic user and a managerial type user. Our user zero was lumped into the latter group. He should have been the basis of a third group identified as super users.
- Without understanding their users’ workflow, they just kept offering features to the advisory board and creating what they liked. With just one round of research, I was able to map out the three different users’ workflows so that the Interaction designers could create appropriate experiences for each user group to match their workflows.
Understanding the difference between marketing research and user research
I believe the heart of the user zero problem lies in a misunderstand of what marketing research can do and what it cannot.
Marketing research tells you what is happening but provides no context or reason. User research is about why something is happening, or not happening. Both types of research have their value and are generally compatible together. The problem starts when you’re using only one or the other. Below is a small sampling of each type of research.
Marketing research methods
- Focus Groups/Advisory boards
- User groups
- Test markets
- Competitor benchmarks
User research methods
- Contextual interviews
- Usability Lab Studies
- Ethnographic Field Studies
- Participatory Design
- Usability Benchmarking
- Moderated/Unmoderated Remote Usability Studies
- Card sorts
How do you prevent a user zero scenario?
- Make sure that your product team is performing actual user research. You need to understand “why” the users do what they do.
- Identify and document all user types’ workflows. You cannot create a user experience design until you know what tasks each user type performs and how they do it.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has experienced their own “user zero” situation and find out what you did about it.