User research


User research uncovers people’s needs, behaviours and pain points. Cognitive behavioural research techniques uncover pain-points that users are typically not aware of. With a deeper understanding of people’s behaviour and issues, we can build a customer journey map.

The customer journey map helps align stakeholders around an agreed view of current experience and highlight underlying needs, expectations and pain-points. Addressing these paint-points provides real value to users and often identifies opportunities to disrupt existing norms with superior service models.


Direct observation is useful for conducting design research into user processes. Direct observation is also great for learning user vocabulary, understanding businesses’ interaction with customers, and discovering common workarounds — for example by listening in on support calls, watching people moving through amusement parks, or observing sales staff and customers in stores.

An adaptive user interview entails interviewing people about their tasks and challenges. As the interview progresses, we refine the questions we ask as we learn new information. The adaptive interview process gives very rich information and uncovers issues that the user may be unaware of due to ingrained habit or accepted processes.

Personas are a summary representation of all the quantitative and qualitative data collected during user research about a defined target user groups’ approach to a task, product or service.  Personas capture the motivations, goals, primary tasks and abilities of an identified target user group.  This summary helps maintain a design effort focused on user needs. Personas enable decision makers to align on a clear understanding of what target user groups want and thus speed up decision making. Personas are an important decision-making alignment and reference point in human centred decision making.

Empathy mapping captures and summarises a particular user’s perspective about a task or product through their thoughts, feelings, actions and verbal communication.  The empathy map is a single easy to use document that acts as an agreed version of a user’s perspective. It acts as reference point for understanding why a user acts in the way that they do and a check on assumptions about that user.

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