GV Library Design

GV guide to research

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 GV Library articles and other posts we think are important and influential.


How to run your own user research

The GV research sprint: a 4-day process for answering important startup questions

We’ve helped more than 100 startups use research sprints to learn more, make better decisions, and move faster. This is a detailed guide that walks you through every step.

How to run live user testing

Another detailed guide: How GV portfolio company Cluster uses research to make thoughtful, deliberate product improvements.

The big picture

What fuels great design (and why most startups don’t do it)

Spoiler: It’s user research.

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.

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.

Focus groups are worthless

Group dynamics get in the way of meaningful learning. Don’t use a focus group in place of real customer interviews.

Getting out of the building isn’t enough

Some tips for entrepreneurs who conduct customer interviews. Most important: learn to listen, not lead.

Get better data from user studies: 16 interviewing tips

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

No more “no shows”

How to make sure your research participants actually show up.

Lessons from a truck stop: how to conduct field research without a hitch

Sometimes you need to meet customers in their natural habitats.

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