Wojciech Chojnacki, Strategy Director at Symetria
I remember a story told to me by a participant at a UX training I was
giving. His company was building a new module an existing digital
product. They had a great multidisciplinary team, user experience
capabilities and well defined Agile process.
They had done a preliminary user research, built user journeys and
were developing user stories. Still, with the progression of the
project they felt more and more frustrated.
Once upon a time …
The reason was that even with all those "user-related" artifacts, the
users were simply not present in their daily work. A detailed user
testing was planned further along the way. But until then, all product
backlog and design decisions were made based purely on existing
Source of frustration
Source of frustration #2
They tried to find a way to
include more user
in the process, but found
them too resource-
demanding to match their
Seeing how much effort is
needed, they decided to
continue in the blind,
frustration still growing.
Don’t we know enough about users?
As an UX practitioner I sometimes
forget how scary the term “User
Research” sounds. It sounds like
something that takes weeks. Sounds
like a small chance of return on
investment. Sounds like something
that you better outsource to an
agency. And do it only if you really
have those couple of extra bucks to
UX is impossible without user research and
How they perceive our products and interact with
them to reach those goals.
What they think about our new ideas for a product
Do they understand its value and how they can use it.
Designing a product, we simply have to know how our users think about their
tasks and goals.
Market research, traffic
analytics or marketing
support platforms can
be really helpful in
decisions. But they are
no substitute to direct
users and seeing them
interacting with your
We believe it’s time to
transform both existing user
research methods and
companies approach to user
research. If your team is Agile
and Lean it means you need
user research. On the other
hand, user research must
become Agile and Lean to be
needed and used extensively.
NO drama, but a day-to-day practice
• It’s time for focused questions
and focused answers. Forget 10-
pages long surveys that take
days to construct and analyze.
Sometimes even one sentence
can be an eye-opening discovery.
• Let go of your ego, don't treat
user testing as a milestone.
Constant user consulting is a
better approach as you take your
decisions step-by-step and with
Team, meet your users!
• It's fine to work with researchers
within the company or even
external agencies. But try to
incorporate methods which break
down the walls between
customers and your team.
• Conversations with small,
motivated community can be as
powerful as traditional research.
We need answers ASAP
• Waiting for weeks to get research
results is not an option. We often
need them for tomorrow’s
meeting or for design decisions
that need to be taken within
current Agile sprint. In cases like
this, even a handful of responses
can change the course of the
Agile User Research
Our answer to this challenge is Respoteam, a tool which helps you
build an online user resarch room where you can consult ideas,
designs and content with a team of users.
Idea we had when designing Respoteam has expanded into a full
Manifesto, which we’d now love to share and discuss. We believe
more research methods and tools can be build based on that
1. Quick readings over complex studies
Multiaspect studies are
helpful, but not if the
results come a week
It’s great to have
quantified data as a
support for your
decisions, but often a
handful of answers is
enough to understand
and move forward.
2. User conversations over statistical
3. User research as a practice, not a
Day to day user
conversations give a
constant stream of
feedback and help you
work with agility.
decisions come from
setting aside your ego
and getting out of the
building. What’s more,
engaging with users
builds your team’s
skills and motivation.
4. Exposure to users over team
Do you agree?
Were you able to
make it happen?
Let us know about
your agile research