Continuous User Engagement
Why do user research projects have finite starting points and end points when users interact with your product or feature continuously? It’s a rare organization that has the resources or ability to constantly observe their users experiences, however, taking some ques from ethnography, and from some of the best market researchers, it is possible to establish a continuous user engagement effort. In his brilliant book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell provided a case study of a marketing maven who did just that. Constantly monitor the pulse of users, with a goal of understanding how their needs and interests change, even ever so subtly with time. One practical way to do this is by establishing relationships with several lead users and continuously engaging with them, and this is key — do it in their environment. Not with a problem solving agenda, that could lead you to short-sighted solutions, but to understand the context that drives their needs. Pick one or two lead users and develop a monthly dialogue with them, in their environment as much as possible. This also resonates with one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, seek first to understand. For practicing user experience professionals or user researchers, be wary of project sponsors that try to limit or block your access to users. It’s like a doctor being hindered from fully examining their patient.