Sure, you’re doing usability tests and trying to have customer development interviews, but here are a few slightly unusual qualitative user research techniques you should be employing but probably aren’t.
Competitor Usability TestingHave you ever considered running a user test on a competitor’s site?
This one’s fun because it feels a little sneaky. It also gets you a tremendous amount of great information, since chances are somebody is already making mistakes that you don’t have to make.
For example, when one of my clients, Crave, wanted to build a marketplace for buying and selling collectibles, we spent time watching people using other shopping and selling sites. We learned what people loved and hated about the products they were already using, so we could create a product that incorporated only the good bits.
The result was a buying and selling experience that users preferred to several big name shopping sites that will remain nameless.
Bonus tip: There’s always the temptation to borrow ideas from a big competitor with the excuse, “well, so and so is doing it, and they’re successful, so it must be right!” Guess what? Sometimes other companies are successful for a lot of reasons other than that thing you’re stealing from them. Make sure users like that part of a competitor's product before using it in your own.