Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research by Tomer Sharon
Suitable for: Supposed to be beginners, primarily product managers and startup founders but I think it goes into too much detail to hold their interest in doing research themselves (they’d be better off reading Krug first, then this book).
Time to read: 3-4 hours
The premise for this book is really interesting. Tomer starts by telling us how he interviewed 200 startup founders, product managers and venture capitalists from around the world to find out what questions they wanted to know about their users. These questions then formed the outline of the book.
However, when you read the book there’s a disappointing lack of reference to these 200 interviews. I don’t really understand why he went to the trouble of interviewing 200 people when there’s very little reference to them throughout the book. Surely there’s a ‘lean’er way of identifying chapters for a book. But, maybe he’s planning a second book with all of the insights?
Although he says this book is aimed at product managers and startups, it goes into some depth and it doesn’t quite feel right for this audience. I actually think it’s probably more suited to people wanting to expand their knowledge of how-to conduct user research from beginners to intermediates. It’s fairly long and goes fairly deep when you compare it to other beginner UX books, however, it is quite repetitive so I think Tomer has deliberately written it this way so that you can dip in and out as opposed to having to read it front to back. In this way it works well. It’s nice how the methods are mapped out by the stage of the project so that you can flip to the relevant section.
What I find strange is that Tomer stresses the importance of face-to-face research, but then later in the book when he gets to usability testing there’s no mention of face-to-face, only remote testing. Disappointing indeed! There are disadvantages of only doing remote usability testing. His reasoning is effectively that it will be easier for you as a beginner to do remote (agreed), but he’d already gone into quite some detail previously about how-to conduct a face-to-face interview so I don’t know why he wouldn’t encourage it at this point.
I’ve been quite critical so far, but don’t get me wrong, this is a really good book to learn about UX research. I get the feeling that perhaps he wanted to write a more detailed, extensive book but had to pull himself back to try and keep this at the beginner level. You can see how he could easily expand this book to be a really thorough guide to user research (I’d love to see this!).
Overall, the content is superb and Tomer is clearly a highly experienced researcher. I love his focus on the little things that can make a big difference in face-to-face user interviews – they really do by the way! (although if you’re a beginner you might find this attention to detail a little too much) This is a really thorough book and I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about UX research.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d recommend this book as a step up from Krug.
So, start with Krug, then read Tomer and you’ll be all set for conducting your own UX research! 🙂
Reviewed by: Lisa Duddington
Lisa is a UX expert and co-founder of Keep It Usable. She is a highly experienced researcher and works with brands to uncover what makes their users tick and to redesign their digital experiences to be both higher converting and more satisfying.