How to do User Research as a Product Manager?

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Do you know that 42% of startups fail because they don’t understand their users? Imagine having a superpower that allows you to look into the minds of your users. You would instantly know what they love about your product, what frustrates them, and what they wish you would change. Well, good news. As a product manager, you have access to this superpower. It’s called user research.

Hey there, it’s your host, Sachin Sharma, a seasoned product manager with ten years of product management experience. I’ve had the pleasure of guiding over 1,000 aspiring product managers in their journey towards success. With this podcast, I aim to share even more valuable insights on product management to help you excel in your career. If you’re looking to level up your skills and break into a product management role, then you are in the right place. So let’s dive into today’s episode without any further delay.

Importance of User Research:
So let’s start with a question: Why is user research so crucial? Let’s suppose you are building a house without knowing who will live in it or what they need, what their pain points are with their existing house, and what they desire. What they are willing to pay for. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, right? The same principle applies to product management. User research is like a flashlight in the dark, guiding you through the maze of product development. It provides you with clarity, direction, and invaluable insights into your users’ minds. Knowing your users deeply is the key to creating products that resonate with them, products that they love and cannot imagine their lives without, and products they are willing to pay for. Without user research, you are essentially flying blind, making decisions based on assumptions rather than facts. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle with half the pieces missing. You might find a solution, but it won’t be the most efficient or effective one.

Preparatory Steps for User Research:
Now let’s discuss the essential preparatory steps you need to take before diving into user research. First, you must define your research goals and objectives clearly. You should know the “why” behind this because without defined objectives, you risk collecting data that does not serve a purpose. Second, it’s crucial to identify your target audience or user personas. Understanding them intimately is fundamental to the success of your research. If you are not aware of what user personas are, I have an entire podcast episode on this topic that you can refer to. Third, you need to create a research plan or strategy. Think of this as your roadmap. It outlines how you will conduct user research, what methods you will use, and when and where it will take place.

User Research Methods:
Now, let’s dive into various methods that product managers use for user research. The first and most popular one is user interviews. Imagine sitting down with your users for a one-on-one conversation. These qualitative research sessions help managers understand user needs, pain points, and goals. The second most popular method is user surveys. It involves reaching out to a large user base to collect quantitative data, providing insights into demographics, behavior, and attitudes. Usability testing is the third method, involving observing users as they interact with your product to identify usability problems. Card sorting is the fourth method, helping understand how users organize information. Eye tracking, the fifth method, tracks where users are looking on the screen, and heat maps, the sixth method, visualize users’ mouse clicks and scrolls.

Choosing the Right Method:
The million-dollar question is how do we choose the right method? It depends on your research goals. User interviews are primarily used for the early stages of development when you need to understand user needs and pain points. User surveys are useful in later stages, especially for products with a large user base. Usability testing helps identify usability problems, while card sorting reveals how users organize information. Eye tracking focuses on where users look on the screen, and heat maps show user interaction patterns.

Key Considerations for User Research:
Here are eight important things to keep in mind while conducting user research:

  1. Define your goals clearly.
  2. Select the right research methods based on your objectives.
  3. Find the right participants who represent your target users.
  4. Ask the right questions, clear and open-ended.
  5. Respect participants’ time.
  6. Document your research for replication and sharing.
  7. Analyze data to find patterns and trends.
  8. Share your findings with stakeholders involved in product development.

Taking Action with User Research:
You’ve done the research, now it’s time to make an impact. Review the data collected, gain insights, prioritize findings, formulate actionable recommendations, and measure the success of your changes. User research is not a one-time event; it’s an iterative process that continuously informs and shapes your product journey. Remember, understanding your users is at the heart of successful product management. Embrace user research as a fundamental practice, be thorough in your approach, and stay open to ever-evolving insights.

Conducting user research is not just a task to check off your product management list. It’s a dynamic process that continuously informs and shapes your product journey. The insights you gain from your users are invaluable treasures that guide you towards building products and services that truly resonate with your audience. Remember, the user is at the heart of your product management journey. By understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points through diligent research, you are setting yourself up for success and ensuring that your product remains relevant and impactful.

Thank you for joining me in this exploration of user research. Before you go, I want to remind you that you can be part of my community, where I will teach you product management skills and help you break into a product management role by joining my upcoming free web class on You can also find the link in the podcast description. Take action, and let me help you even more inside my community. For those of you who are already part of my community and are making progress, I highly recommend upgrading to the Diamond Membership. This will give you the opportunity to upgrade your product management skills, fast-track your progress, and surround yourself with like-minded achievers and action-takers.
Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to take your career to the next level.

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