Insights Design Thinking

Why are our entrepreneurs scared about user research?

While the visual design for websites and mobile apps are welcomed wholeheartedly by an entrepreneur, UX research/design is assumed and kept away as something for the elite group of businessmen and their products. Its the same with the west and the east. Its the same for a bootstrapped entrepreneur or a funded startup. Why is that so?

Background of entrepreneurs influences their interest in User Research

Let's try to categorize the typical background of entrepreneurs, broadly.

1. The salesperson

A successful salesperson who could sell almost anything to his/her prospects, who understands specific pain points in their particular domain and would want to solve it.

2. The alumnus / alumna

An entrepreneur who recently graduated from an elite institution, who knows some pain points from the customer's stand-point, understands the theories of management or the technicality based on the institution he/she graduated.

3. The developer

A developer who has been working in the same domain for a considerable amount of time to get bored and start something by his own will also falls in the same category as of the salesperson-turned-entrepreneur.

(Let's not talk about the businessmen, as their psychology is a lot different from the entrepreneurs.)

All these guys believe that they know it all. They think that they have been in the shoes of their customers, and therefore they know what their customers are asking. They believe that their powerpoints are as good as any wireframe prototype by a user experience consultant who designed it after brainstorming, conducting user research, competitive audit, and heuristic evaluation.

User Research is about listening, more than asking

The truth is that User Research is not about asking questions, whether its a one-to-one interview, a focus group meeting, or an online or off-line survey. It is about asking less and listening more. It is observing how users react to a particular situation in a specific domain. It is also how they look forward to the inevitable solution when they are feeling a void in the offering from the existing providers.

If Henry Ford had asked a solution to the farmers before working on his product, they would have been asking for four more horses, and he would not be building the tractor. It's the same for Steve Jobs' Apple and their iPhone.

We are not downplaying user research, but we are trying to imply the importance of user research from a perspective where it is more listening than asking. Also, if you listen more, then you have more answers. When you have more answers, you have better clarity. When you have better clarity, your PowerPoint presentation can be as good as your end product. You will be spending the lesser amount of time for iterations on a finished good. Because, a revision of a paper sketch is much more comfortable, faster, and economical than that on a finished product.

So, entrepreneurs, User Research is your best friend, not your enemy!

Bipin Domy Thomas

CEO, Domy Innovations Cafe


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