I’ve been beta testing a program about UX portfolios recently. When I first had the idea, I did some research and then, armed with my research, I went to work and created the curriculum. But here’s the thing, I didn’t stop doing research once I launched the product. I’ve continued to research as I’ve been building this program.

Too often, I think teams don’t make research a continuous part of their process. They do research at the beginning, if they’re lucky, and then they get caught up in the “build” phase. Why? Because as soon as you start building you see, and feel, progress. And this can get quite addictive! Although progress is great, we must always ask “am I making the right progress?” If not, then it’s time to hit pause.

So, how have I been conducting continuous research about the UX portfolio beta program? Well, here are some examples:

  • When every student signs up, I have them fill out a questionnaire so I can learn more about them, including key questions such as “why did you sign up” and “what do you hope to get out of the program”.
  • I watch the private Facebook group for students very, very closely! The questions people ask and the files they upload are all very good research to help me understand what they like, what topics they’re interested in, and more.
  • When people don’t enroll (assuming I thought they were a good candidate) I email them and ask them to reply with their # 1 reason for not enrolling.
  • After a student completes the course, I ask them to fill out a survey to get a better understanding of their outcomes after taking the course. What did they learn, but more important, what action did they take.
  • I selectively check in one-on-one with people. In other words, I let all my other research activities act as “feelers” that I’m putting out. Then, I follow up and do individual phone calls and do mini user research interviews with people who said something that particularly stood out. Why? Because people tell me the “why”. It’s great to know that “x % of students rated the course as fairly priced” — but why?

So think about your product. Is your team doing continuous research?

Based on the example I just gave you, how can your team do research for the product you’re working on? What points in the experience would be ideal to ask people a quick question via email? When would be a good time to ask people to fill out a quick survey? Where can you do more listening to your users (eg. my Facebook group example).