PRODUCTHEAD: The what, why and how of user research

PRODUCTHEAD: The what, why and how of user research

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

sit down. product up


User research needs to be proactive as well as reactive validation

Some research techniques are more useful than others at different stages

You must safeguard the welfare of your user research participants

There are many ways to recruit participants for your research without outsourcing

Use a simple format for sharing research findings memorably


Some people call it user research. Some call it UX research. Either way, it is a crucial activity that somehow still seems to be pushed to the wayside.


Plenty of reasons. Some teams find themselves in organisations where delivery (building stuff) is more highly valued than research (figuring out what to build).

“We’re following Lean Startup methodology,” they say. “Build — measure — learn. We research by building.”

Sure, but that kind of learning is useful if you’re already in the right ballpark with your product and you’re validating and fine-tuning your approach. It’s pretty useless as an approach if you have no idea whether anyone even has the problem you’re trying to solve.

Other teams simply lack any experienced researchers to guide the team to find answers to their questions — or sometimes to point out what questions they should be asking, but aren’t.

Reading a few articles about good practices in user research certainly won’t turn you into an experienced user research overnight. But it will hopefully highlight how broad a topic it is, and how valuable a good user researcher will be to your team.

So this week, here are some good articles discussing the what, why and how of user research for you to mull over. (Then go and hire a user researcher, if you don’t already have one.)

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

What Proactive UX Research Looks Like

Proactive UX research anticipates the critical user experience decisions that a team faces. This is in contrast to how most teams conduct their UX research today. Most teams react to questions that arise during the design process.

Research users ahead of critical decisions


UX Research Cheat Sheet

At every stage in the design process, different UX methods can keep product-development efforts on the right track, in agreement with true user needs and not imaginary ones.

What research techniques to use and when


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.

Conducting Ethical User Research

You are responsible for your participants’ wellbeing, for representing them honestly, and for keeping their personal information safe. That is a big responsibility, so it’s important to know what to consider when you plan to do user research so as to keep your project ethically sound.

Do no harm


DIY Recruiting: How to Find Participants for Your Research

One thing is inevitable in user research — at some point you’re going to have to find some people to take part in it. Finding them isn’t always easy. It can be time consuming and generate a lot of admin overhead that gets in the way of our daily work, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Recruiting participants without outsourcing


Tips for Presenting User Research at Show and Tell

I encourage all the teams I work with to have a what-we’ve-learned-about-our-users slot in the show and tell – or demo, showcase, or review – at the end of each sprint. To do this, I create a simple ‘findings’ slide deck. In this post, I’ll share how I make them.

A simple way to present research findings


recent posts

The only article you’ll ever need on prioritization

When faced with an overwhelming number of things you could be doing, all with good reasons for doing them, it can be tremendously hard to decide which to do, let alone which to do first.

Prioritization is all about deciding this as objectively and transparently as you can.

Break the deadlock


What technical skills do I need to be a product manager?

I am searching for a career change and Product Management/ Project Management are my areas of interest. I was looking to understand, based on your experience, if in such roles technical skills are required?

Read on for my answer


How to start a new product manager job

Starting a new product manager job can be daunting, particularly if you don’t change jobs very often. I work freelance, so I find myself in a new organisation roughly every 3-6 months. Let me share with you my tips for your first few months in a new role.

What to do in the first 30-90 days


upcoming talks and events

5th May 2021, 16:00 GMT


Online product management round table discussion (topic TBC)


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from hipster beards.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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