Gathering reliable user research is literally a science. While it may seem too easy to simply “just ask” your target users for feedback, probing with tasks and questions the wrong way can lead target users to a biased answer.
For example, if a restaurant wants to gather user feedback to decide what would be popular menu items to serve, it will want to know what the user’s food preferences are. It might ask “do you prefer soup or salad as your appetizer?” This is leading because it is already based on two assumptions: 1) that the user even wants an appetizer and 2) the user likes either soup or salad.
It is entirely possible that users do not want to eat appetizers or prefer something other than soup or salad. By already assuming certain preferences, the data gathering could result in faulty data and the restaurant maybe finds itself not making sales on its soups or salads.
Instead, the data gathering effort should begin with broader questions like “What foods do you prefer to eat?” “What is the most important thing to you about a meal?” “How many courses do you like to eat when dining?” Once broader assumptions are satisfied, the user experience (UX) Specialist can then probe with more specific questions and tasks.
Abdul has helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.