We’re not agile purists at Qualdesk, but we find a lot of the methodology super helpful. It allows us to stay focused on user needs and gives us a framework for iteration.

We do our sprint planning visually, and this brings three distinct benefits:

1. You get a better plan

It’s incredibly difficult to make sense of user stories, bugs and other tasks if they’re in columns on a board, or in a backlog list.

Whether it’s on a whiteboard online or a physical wall, a 2D canvas gives you and your team an opportunity to zoom out, quite literally, and get a sense of the…


How do you put your organization’s values into practice? Where could you get better? And are they even the right values in the first place?

These three questions are important, but rarely asked.

All of this presupposes that you’ve spent some time thinking about and writing down your values and if you haven’t, that’s a necessary first step. The Qualdesk values are here.

If you have, you probably haven’t looked at them in a while. At Qualdesk, we decided to do this at our last quarterly team offsite, but this had two downsides:

  • Recency bias: during our discussion, it was…


I’ve always found it helpful to treat user research as a product:

  • Who: It’s a product for PMs, designers, engineers, marketers, sales people and many others in your organization
  • What: It helps them make better decisions, more quickly, about what to design, build and sell

Why is this helpful?

Once you start treating research as a product, you very quickly realize that you have a ton of great product concepts and tools you can use make research more impactful:

  • The ­minimum viable research required to achieve a particular objective
  • How to incorporate continuous improvement into your research process
  • The role of spontaneous discovery in…


I’ve always found it helpful to treat user research as a product:

  • Who: It’s a product for PMs, designers, engineers, marketers, sales people and many others in your organization
  • What: It helps them make better decisions, more quickly, about what to design, build and sell

Why is this helpful?

Once you start treating research as a product, you very quickly realize that you have a ton of great product concepts and tools you can use make research more impactful:

  • The ­minimum viable research required to achieve a particular objective
  • How to incorporate continuous improvement into your research process
  • The role of spontaneous discovery in…


Confidence intervals are everywhere in the quantitative research world, but in small scale qualitative research there isn’t a truly analogous concept. Nevertheless, being able to express how confident you are that an insight is accurate is useful, and that poses a question: how do you calculate a confidence score for insights from user research?

At Qualdesk, we’re big fans of making them up. And this isn’t as crazy as it seems.

In your own research, you’ll almost certainly have shared findings that you were very confident in, and others that you weren’t so sure about. …


Some insights are ‘evergreen’ — they’re relevant for a very long time. Those insights might teach you something about the fundamentals of how your customers or audience behaves, and they might end up becoming part of your design principles or brand values.

But sometimes the loop between research, insight and action is very tight — and the context of your insight changes so fast — that the insights you generate become irrelevant very quickly.

Think about usability testing and other forms of UX research, where you want to either validate an approach or diagnose a problem, and make changes as…


Imagine you’re doing a customer research project about dogs, talking to dog owners about how they care for their animals, what they feed them, and where they take them for walks. And let’s call your findings the core insights from this project.

The chances are you’ll also hear things about their other pets. Cats, rabbits, iguanas, beetles and so on.

Some of these things you hear might turn out to be pretty useful. They might spark ideas for new products, services or improvements. They might help solve problems or inspire further research.

These are what I like to call halo…


Most user research reports are monolithic. What does this mean?

  • They combine multiple pieces of information into a single ‘blob’ — often a document like a slide presentation or an email
  • The information itself is framed in the context of a particular project: ‘In this project we discovered X, Y and Z’

This doesn’t present too many problems when you create these reports. After all, your primary objective at that point in time is to communicate your research findings to your team, or to a client.

It causes massive problems later.

So, what happens with monolithic reports?

1. Search

Search across multiple…


You’ve read The Lean Startup and you know about the concept of the Minimum Viable Product. You practice customer or user-centered design in your team, and the organization you work for has a strong design culture. Sound good so far?

But what about the impact of research on the product itself? Does what you discover change the path of the products your organization builds? Does it influence strategy?

If not, it’s time to take stock.

Let’s take a look at what sometimes goes wrong:

  1. Research planning is un-agile
  2. Perfectionism or completionism creeps in to research
  3. Research scope is too narrow


Let’s take a look some of the information you could include alongside a quote:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Place/country of residence
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Customer/audience segment
  • Organization they work for or represent
  • Job title
  • Ethnicity
  • Dietary requirements
  • Sexuality
  • Medical history

As you can see, these range from the reasonably anonymous to the highly personal, and some might seem slightly ridiculous at first glance.

However, there may be situations in which some of that data is important, and here are some examples:

  • Dietary requirements: if you work in a food business, knowing whether a particular quote came from a vegan…

Peter Parkes

Founder of Qualdesk, formerly at Made by Many, Skype and Expedia

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