Research provides the inspiration, guidance, and validation we need to design great products. From the personal (like interviewing users) to the analytical (like metrics) there’s a continuum of research skills that are essential for design teams. The most effective companies integrate this discipline into their culture and make research a habit.

This is our guide to design research, featuring Design Staff articles and other posts we think are important and influential.


The big picture

Questions to ask before starting user research

Start with research questions — what are you trying to learn? — before selecting research methods.

Meetup’s dead simple user testing

Make research a habit at your company: talk to users every week.

How to choose the right UX metrics for your product

Data-informed design starts with choosing the right metrics. Don’t settle for basic measures like traffic or unique users.

Seven tips for lean market research

Want fast answers to big questions about your market, competitors, or customers? First look for existing research.

Talking to users

Why you only need to test with five users

Optimize your research for speed and value by running small tests more often. Five users is a sweet spot.

How to find great participants for your user study

Learn to recruit the right users for your studies. It’s simple once you know how.

Super-fast research recruiting with TaskRabbit

Speed up research recruiting by hiring TaskRabbits as participants.

Thinking aloud: The #1 usability tool

Simple usability tests where users think aloud are highly effective. They are also cheap, flexible, and easy to learn.

Get better data from user studies: 16 interviewing tips

Great research interviews should be like Terry Gross on Fresh Air — engaging and insightful.

How to hack your body language for better interviews

Learn how to monitor and adjust body language to help research participants feel comfortable and confident.

Remote research

Tips for testing your designs with UserTesting.com

UserTesting.com is a great, low-cost way to run basic usability studies.

Improve your surveys and get even better data

Surveys are useful for gathering feedback, but they’re often misunderstood and misused.

Micro-surveys: a faster way to learn about your users

Micro-surveys are short and highly targeted. They’re not only easy to answer, but easy to create, implement, and analyze.

Rapid user research: how to survey 400 users and interview 10 in three days

Speed up user research by writing a recruiting questionnaire that’s also a survey.

Tools and resources

  • UserTesting.com — easy remote usability testing
  • WebEx — conduct and record remote interviews
  • Ethnio — intercept website visitors for research
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy — Steve Krug’s guide to finding and fixing usability problems
  • KISSmetrics — track user-centered metrics
  • ScreenFlow — record and edit video from in-person user studies (Mac only)
  • Silverback — record and edit video from in-person user studies (Mac only)
  • Verify — collect and analyze user feedback on visual concepts