Making use of user research

Gretchen Anderson of Cooper Interaction Design talks about how to make the most of user research -- usability testing and ethnographic field research -- to help mke better choices and establish better focus for products. Designing or redesigning a product often feels like a risky proposition, especially in today's business climate. Those responsible for defining the product offering and marketing want reliable, measurable data to define success both incrementally and overall. Hard data helps us make choices about where to spend resources, but placing a product under the microscope every step of the way can also introduce as many opportunities for error as it avoids. By focusing on how a product performs in the lab without broader knowledge of the user's environment and goals, measurement alone may be misleading. To get the most value and meaning out of user feedback it is important to choose the appropriate method for conducting and analyzing.