User research is often the first thing to get the axe when budgets are tight, but cutting corners at this critical early stage can lead to big (totally avoidable) holes opening up later down the line.

  1. The “we’ve got enough data already” myth

With so much data out there, it’s often assumed there’s enough. Surely creative teams can sculpt inspiring, beautiful, brief-smashing experiences from what’s already out there? Data spills from every device and user interaction, it’s gathered up and beautified into reports, infographics and PowerPoint presentations.

But what use is all this quantitative data if there’s no one to interpret it properly? All of those impressive numbers and swish graphics will likely end up gathering dust on a desk. Quantitative data will tell you what your users are doing but only qualitative research will help you understand why they are doing it.

  1. Your users have short attention spans

Nowadays people expect more. More from services, more from products – heck, we even expect more from our friends and family. Technology has evolved and advanced quicker than our brains, so we are all over-informed, over-exposed and overwhelmed. Phone use is reprogramming our brains, with constant distractions placing us all in a permanent state of readiness to react to notifications or alerts, impacting the way we live and the way we make decisions. We aren’t able to go as deep as we used to – always skating on the surface of the moment.

With only a few seconds to make an impact, insight driven research is the only way to pique their interest and retain it long enough to make an impression.

Customers are changing far faster today than organisations are. Customers are setting the agenda – Gerry McGovern, CX Expert, CMSWire 

  1. You’re competing with the likes of Apple

Regardless of the industry you are in we are all competing against the likes of Apple, Amazon and Netflix. They know how to grab attention and tempt us into interacting and consuming their products and services. These temptations take many forms, both physical (sleek, sexy, feature-filled, tactile devices) and experiential (shopping, box-sets, games, apps). Brands that don’t emotionally connect with a customer in those precious first few seconds to form a positive, memorable experience will be lost to other temptations in an instant.


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  1. Consumers attach emotions to experiences with your brand

Memory is influenced by emotion, if an experience is powerful enough – good or bad – it will be transferred into our long-term memory. Well worth remembering when it comes to point of purchase. A user’s continued loyalty to your brand is based on an emotion; one you can influence if you understand them well enough.

Our decision-making process works using two methods of cognitive processing. System 1 is automatic; your ‘gut reaction’. It runs the show day-to-day; calling the shots on decisions that engender neutral or positive emotions; ones where there are no dangers to consider. However, when a decision has to be made that garners a negative emotion, System 2 kicks in; our analytical brain. Now we have to reason and weigh up the pros and cons in order to make a choice, taking effort, energy and time.

  1. Innovation comes from understanding customer needs

Deep, long-lasting friendships are formed after time, care and attention. It takes time to get to know someone and really truly understand what makes them tick and what ticks them off. Knowing someone intimately enables you to nail that special birthday present or treat them to an experience that they remember for eternity. This can also apply to the relationship a brand has with its customers. A relationship that is based on knowing can only be established if you invest the time to understand them. Innovation begins at the heart with the intent and desire to create something that people will love and something that will stand out in a world of information and choice overload.

Ultimately, people will care if you show that you care.

50% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesnt anticipate their needs – Salesforce

  1. If you don’t ask, you won’t know

To make a crude analogy: You wouldn’t assume a visiting client wants a strong black coffee with 2 sugars (because that’s how you and two of your colleagues like yours) and then expect them to drink it – even if it’s served in a stylish porcelain cup. You would of course ask them what they would like to drink and do your best to make sure it matched their expectations.

When it comes to digital product planning and development, businesses tend to be hugely reliant on their own assumptions, and they are often wrong.

2018 will be the year of servicing consumer needs before they even arise. Brands leveraging the right data and analytics to deliver impactful customer experiences will rise to the top – Andy Yost, CMO, Gannett

Take away

User research, when conducted effectively, removes the reliance on opinions and assumptions, providing direction and purpose to help to ensure business/project decisions are targeted towards meeting the needs of customers.

It doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming, methods and reach can be scaled to suit project constraints using a combination of quantitative methods to provide proof and reveal the ‘what’, and qualitative methodologies to help understand the ‘why’. Even a short research phase can reveal enough behavioural information to a user research expert or UX practitioner that can help sculpt an experience into something rewarding for your customers and business.

For more information on making the most of user research, please contact Jonny West at saintnicks on 0117 927 0100 or via email at