kei’s notes

Design research tips

Design research helps ground decision making on solid basis and substantiate subsequent direction (instead of following our gut feeling).
==> [Intuition is feeble and unreliable]

  • As Yamashita shared his own experience: At the beginning of his time working in Figma, a lot of features/work were pushed and realised basing on people’s gut feeling (or preference); he joined the company as the VP of Product in April 2019 and has since then helped organise product development basing on stories and goals that they want to tell users, rooting on their in-house research.

Always trace feature requests or requirements back to user problems. Sometimes there are better solutions to the problem.

  • Make use of jobs-to-be-done. Ask: What are people hiring us to do? Why do they want that? What’s the problem they are having? Get to their problems which underlie their request. And then bring the problems forward to the designers. Designers work the best with problems (DePaul).

User feedback is not the only input for insights.

  • User feedback represents only the portion of customer/user needs from the existing users. There can be prospective user groups’ needs. There can also be unvoiced insights lying in existing users’ behaviour.
  • Business insights can also be part of the input for design research. That include business concerns, priorities, objectives and strategies.
  • Furthermore, peripheral meta matters in the surrounding environment can also provide insights. They can come from industry trends and competition. Especially for the latter, you can learn from their successes and failures (Yamashita).

Development and testing is not the only way to get input for insights.

  • Development and testing takes time. We can also do interviews, focus groups, surveys and guerrilla testing for swiftly collect input.

User hacks can point to missing features and hence problems which users are experiencing with your product. They can even contribute to your products and tackle features that are not prioritised (e.g. building community plug-ins) (Yamashita).

Running design research takes time. It may not always fit into the increment cycle in Scrum for demonstrating deliverables. Yet, to maintain transparency across a working team, show the incremental progress in design research. This provides a platform for feedback collection, and can perhaps enrich insights coming from other input sources.

  • For Scrum in Agile: Incremental deliverables are to make work done transparent. It is not an exclusive framework to deny longer, yet meaningful tasks which need more time than the increment’s length (Seiden).

Last update: 2020-08-08


DePaul, Nicolas. How to run remote user testing at scale. Figma, 21 July 2020,

Seiden, Joshua, narrator. ‘Author Joshua Seiden: Measuring work and rethinking goal setting’. Design Better, season 4, episode 37, InVision, 5 May 2020,

Yamashita, Yuhki. What’s Next After Product-Market Fit?. Figma, 29 July 2020,

Design research tips