UX Research is no magic 8 ball

Research can only offer insights, not definitive solutions.

There is a common misconception about the role of research in the UX design community. People hope that research (the more the better) will solve their design problem.

However, research doesn’t provide direct answers to design problems, nor does it magically reveal a solution. Instead, research can only provide insights as “food for thought”.

The primary goal of research is to understand users’ mindsets, workflows, and challenges. You want to see what users do, understand why they do it, and get their feedback. These insights are the raw material for your ideation.

However, there’s a limit. At some point, further research won’t bring you closer to an answer. You might think: “I still have so many questions.” — this feeling is normal. Research cannot answer all your questions.

It is your job to collect and combine these insights and use them to come up with a viable solution. This involves analyzing data, brainstorming, formulating assumptions, and creating prototypes. Research cannot replace the ideation process. There will always be ambiguity when coming up with solutions — embrace it.

Research alone won’t hand you an answer on a silver platter. While it lays the groundwork for ideation, you have to come up with solution ideas on your own. To address unanswered questions, turn to ideation to explore possible solutions.

During ideation you will come up with solution ideas. Map them out, brainstorm, document your assumptions, create prototypes, and validate them. This iterative process helps in refining the solution. You need to actively “work towards” the solution.

While research provides the foundation for ideation work, it’s your job to find the right solution. Don’t try to outsource ideation work to research.