About User Research and AnalysisUser research and analysis is important for technical communicators because it provides the background knowledge, scope, and reference that is required to develop user-centered information products. Technical communicators, with their research, interviewing and analytic skills, are positioned to become organizational experts on user research and analysis. User research can involve one or more of the following activities:
- Organizational Information Mining: Extracting information from internal customer-facing contacts about who your user is and other pre-determined characteristics.
- User Profile Development: Developing high-level information describing the relevant characteristics of multiple users. User profiles categorize users into predefined categories based on their product or information use.
- Persona Development: Developing archetypes of users to aid developers in the design and development process. Personas represent real people and are therefore easier to design for than a faceless, nameless, market segment. Personas that are fleshed out with real names, photos, job descriptions, task-lists, and day-in-the-life descriptions can be extremely powerful design tools.
- Field Research: Conducting research gathered directly from the users, preferably in their own environment. Onsite research such as job shading, interviewing or other ethnographic methods provide direct information that researchers can evaluate for inclusion in personas, profiles or other analytical activities.