The Curious Case of UX Research and Time Management

Saurav Harsh
3 min readSep 16, 2023

There’s a persistent myth in the realm of product development that conducting UX Research can be a roadblock to timely design handoffs. Here’s an argument against that belief.

Pikachu san is bamboozled

1. Scenario

Once upon a time, there was a small to mid-sized Design team in a product-based company, excited to start work on it’s upcoming launch/release. They were all set and ready to get their hands dirty. But there was one issue.

The team was unaware of the user needs and data to overlap pain points with business goals. And their request to conduct User Research was met with constraints:

  1. Secondary Research was allowed but only if squeezed between “screen” deliverables.
  2. Primary Research and Interviews were off-limits due to supposed “time constraints.”
  3. Design reviews by other internal teams were optional.
  4. Access to data from existing products was limited due to resource constraints.

I hope none of these constraints are familiar to you, but anyway. Let’s continue to see what the team is forced to do next:

Assume

Yes, other than a Hypothesis developed from the Secondary Research, the team only had their assumptions to validate their findings and put them into their design solutions.

Discuss

They now had a first draft but not enough confidence if the solution could work. So they discussed it (endlessly) internally to give each other the comfort that it’s a well-thought-out solution.

Iterate

As new ideas emerged, they returned to the drawing board, each time correcting prior assumptions with new ones

Repeat

And everything fell into a loop that ended only when the weight of deadlines was on the head, with no other option but to deliver whatever existed at that moment.

Peele feels attacked personally

2. Outcome

The scenario above is a healthy process if we talk about teamwork, openness to change and the iterative nature of design. But not when we talk about:

Problem Framing

In the absence of research, they struggled to grasp their users' true pain points, resulting in a vague estimated solution.

User Centred Design

Their product met business requirements but fell short in satisfying users’ needs, leaving a void of satisfaction.

Time Management

Countless hours were lost in debating assumptions, unable to distinguish the right path.

  • Why should one’s assumptions be favoured over another’s assumptions?
  • Why should one thing be adopted and another discarded?
Tell me tell me

3. What could have been

Since I aim to highlight the benefits of User Research in the light of time management (and because all of us already know how Research helps in other areas), here is how it could have helped the team in my opinion:

Informed Ideation

Having data and insights on users’ pain points and challenges helps direct the ideation stage, thus accelerating the path to viable concepts.

Prioritisation

Focus shifts to user-valued aspects of the product. Validating requirements will help in dropping what is not vital.

Problem Framing

Objectively framing the problem reduces the need to debate endlessly over each other’s assumptions drastically.

Efficient Collaboration

Research insights helps expedite decision-making in cross-functional teams and with subjective opinions.

Reduced Re-Work

Addressing the right problems diminishes the need for extensive revisions (though even with Research, eventual re-dos are inevitable, nothing’s perfect).

Conclusion

The value of UX research in time management is quite apparent. For me it saves precious time and resources, ensuring a user-centred product that meets real-world needs.

PS: I might throw this blog with my next User Research Proposal, fingers crossed.

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Saurav Harsh

UX and Communication Designer. Sharing my thoughts and ideas on Design (UXR and UXD), Books (ones that I enjoy reading) and Art (all kinds)