The Fountain Institute

What is Continuous UX Research?

Published over 2 years ago • 2 min read

Dear Reader,

Amazon releases new production code every 11.6 seconds.

That's nearly 7,500 deployments every single day. Why?

Today's digital products are never "done." They require constant iteration...shifting and changing like a complex, living organism.

Amazon doesn't deliver code once a year via CD like AOL. They deliver continuously in tiny iterations, and design must evolve to keep up.

A designer working at a continuous delivery company like Amazon might find themselves drowning in the task of delivering solutions for this lightning-fast production.

How are we supposed to make time for research if we're releasing it every 11.6 seconds? I'm glad you asked ;)

Without an understanding of customer problems, solutions will miss the mark. So how do we find time for anything but delivering visuals? How do we ensure that our product stays connected to the customer?

Continuous UX Research is how the top teams are doing it.

Q: What is Continuous UX Research?

Continuous UX Research is weekly exploratory UX research conducted by product people without project timelines, briefs, or set outcomes. It's done through weekly rituals rather than big projects.

This is modern research for modern product teams. It's not taught in schools because it's only just emerging into the mainstream thanks to books like Continuous Discovery Habits.

The emergence of Continuous UX Research doesn't mean you stop doing traditional UX research. These two types of research serve very different purposes.

Traditional UX Research is project-based and usually starts with a question, topic, or brief. It goes through the process of planning > recruitment > data collection > synthesis > insight presenting > application.

Research specialists carry out traditional UX Research, and they work outside of the team applying their research. Product managers might conduct this research to discover requirements for a project, or UX Researchers might do this in preparation for a future OKR.

Continuous UX Research is product-based and starts with a general desire to improve the product by connecting with the users. Rather than seeking out specific answers or information, it seeks inspiration for the continuous delivery work that is already taking place.

Anyone on the product team can conduct continuous UX Research. While the whole team participates, ownership generally follows people with research skills.

Since the application of continuous research is so near-term, UX/UI and product designers make great facilitators of continuous research, especially if they have research skills like interviewing and synthesis (something our new course can help you with).

How to Do Continuous UX Research

How do you do your research continuously? You have to automate and simplify if you want to do impactful research every week. Here's what might change as research goes from traditional to continuous:

  • Project planning → One-time setup
  • Interview scripts → Discussion guides
  • Project-specific recruitment → Automated recruitment
  • Custom-designed surveys → Always-on, contextual surveys
  • Synthesis workshops → Team debriefs after research activities
  • Presentation of insights → Searchable research database
  • Research reports → Not needed when everyone researches

Turning 3-month research projects into a few hours a week requires a lot of work and a massive mindset shift. It won't happen overnight, but luckily, we have a FREE event to help you out!

Join the Event

Next week, we're running a FREE webinar next Wednesday, January 26th @ 6 PM London Time, 12 PM New York Time

We'll be sharing some of those tools, processes, and methods of Continuous UX Research.

How to do research weekly
Check out the event page

Upcoming Live Courses

Continuous UX Research →
Learn how to run exploratory research weekly and discover product opportunities with the whole product team.

February 7-28, 2022, Live & Online

Click here to stay updated via email

Designing Product Experiments →
Learn how to design rapid product experiments to test ideas and start measuring customer behavior.

March 14-April 4, 2022, Live & Online

Click here to stay updated via email

Until next week, think about how you can shift your research activities from a quarterly project mindset towards a weekly product mindset!

Jeff Humble
Designer & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute

P.S. We just finished our new course brochure for Continuous UX Research. Download it here.

The Fountain Institute

The Fountain Institute is an independent online school that teaches advanced UX & product skills.

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