Getting started with Product Research 
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These are the five steps that any Program Manager should follow to do Product Research.
Research doesn’t have a go only in the science experiments. It has everything to do when you are building a product as well. How else will one know what and what-not to be included in a project?! This article will tell you how a research process has to be cut down into steps and laid out one by one.
Our research process is extremely messy. We scribble our ideas onto papers, crush them when we realize that it’s as stupid as we are and pile them up against the so-called dustbin (But mostly, we use digital paper as t**he girl gang gets all worked up when they see the office messed up!) or we put up post-its all over the glass door and cover the remaining space with marker scribbles. You might wonder what and how we do it, because (from the this) you can deduce that we make a lot of commotion. So, let’s get started!
First: Do the talk
When a customer describes their product to you, don’t keep quiet. You are not inside a lecture hall! Ask questions. Blurt out the questions that pop in your head. But don’t ask questions like ‘Where did you buy these shoes? (if a girl)’ or ‘How did you grow your beard? (if a guy)'. Anything that is related to the product, ask away ma’boy (fake accent 😉). All this you should ask because customer research is important. The more you fire questions, the more you can see the product taking form in your head. You can see features from millions of other products that you are using ripping themselves apart from their parent to form this new powerful hero. That*, is* *your cue.* Once you could see the blurry version of the product taking shape, you are all set to move to the next step. Congrats on getting to the next level!
Second: Do the brain-work
Get your team, grab chairs and bean bags and pile up on the sticky notes and markers. For those who frown on the fact I missed the food, it is in there by default. There is going to be no discussion, not a meeting without something to munch on! Coming back to the point, at the end of the talk you should be equipped with enough information to see where the product is heading. Now ask yourself these questions,
- How would you use the product?
- What features will you like?
- What will make you use regularly?
- How will it improve your performance?
- How is it better that any other product?
Now, collect the answers from all of your team members. List them down. You’ll see a lot of contradictions and complications. This is where you use your brain. Start your research to see how you can fit in all of the requirements. Binding two-three features together to form a single awesome element or cutting down on the features to have it smooth and subtle is all in your research. At the end of this stage, the flow of the product has to be ready.
Third: Do the Empathy work.
Empathize with the product’s user group. Every product is designed for a certain group of users. This research will involve designing the product from their perspective. This perspective will be a lot different from the developer version. The usability and functionality of the product may vary and might undergo a lot of changes to the product flow. This is the grooming part. At the end of this stage, we get a definite and final product structure which will be built into the actual product.
Fourth: Do the After Launch Research.
The research process doesn’t end with product development. In fact, it takes a more serious form after the launch of the product. User feedback is going to be the key ingredient. Get ready for some reality. Not all the feedback will be a pat on your back; Some will turn out to be slaps and burns as well. Knowing what the user liked and what needs improvement has to be researched. Doing research after the user has had a chance to use the features and adjust to the changes it may have brought to their workflow is a must. The usage of the product has its effect on the research. If it is used on a daily basis, then the feedback from the user will be faster. If it is used on a monthly basis, it takes some time to settle down among the users. If changes are to be made to any of the key features, then it is likely that there will be a change of reaction from the crowd (with some yay’s and some boo’s as well). Certain questions could get you the answer to this research,
- What do you feel about the change?
- Is it helping your workflow?
- What impact does it have on your work?
Fifth: Do the User Research
Understanding the user mentality about the product is important. Ask them questions, not just generic questions, but specific questions as such,
- Explain in a couple of sentences what you think the product does.
- What do you think (a specific feature) is and what is it useful for?
- How is it better than the (competitive product)?
- Which feature is better in the (competitive product)?
- How would you describe the product?
These types of questions will give you critical insights into the way your users think about how your product works, and will ultimately help you build great software.
To conclude, The key point is to dig deeper like a boring machine. This is possible only if you throw away the hesitation to ask questions. Ask, ask some more, ask even more and know about your product. Ask questions in and out, left and right, east and west of what you are going to build and what you have built. While doing research you also get to brag to people on how you are doing research and create the hype of a scientist (though you aren’t one 😉 , it’s cool, the secret remains between us and maybe the other thousand who read this! 😉)
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