Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Why Should We Do Research?

We spent the last 5 months of 2016 trying to move house. I was very lucky to be able to leave a lot of the process to my husband to organise as we thought it best to have just one point of contact between us.

But it did make me think, how on earth would I do this if it was just me or he had been too busy to do everything himself.

The process did not seem to be written down anywhere and all the terms seemed very confusing to me. It is ok for all the estate agents and solicitors for whom moving house is an everyday occurrence, but for me most of it was gobbledy gook and no one except my husband was ready to explain what was going on or trusted to tell me the truth.

This got my problem solving brain working. It would be nice if there was somewhere I could go which would give me an idea of the process and explain all the jargon so I could understand what was going on.

"Well if it is not out there maybe I should design it"

I started by doing some competitor analysis - did something like this already exist? I did find some sites. Money Saving Expert had some useful tips, but they are all about the money. And had some good information too, especially around getting quotes and answering questions about why you would need that service, but the site felt cluttered and still did not really give me the overview of the process or get into the jargon. I was looking for something a lot simpler.

Well if it is not out there maybe I should design it.

I started thinking about what it was I actually wanted and how it would work. What I would really like is a checklist in the rough order things should happen in, detailing what should be happening and any other relevant information.

Divided between Buying a property and Selling a property then split into sections round looking for a property/estate agent, making/accepting an offer, exchange and completion. I also started thinking about how you could create a personalised place for people to login to where they could save documents and contact details keeping everything in one place.

But would this be useful to anyone else?

I started asking friends and family what they thought, not so much about the idea but about the ordering of information and type of information they would like to see.

To do this I created a survey which I posted on Facebook to see what people thought. Had they done research before or during the process? Would more information have helped them? How had they found the buying or selling process?

I only got 7 responses with my first message, but that was enough. Everyone said that the process had been harder than they thought it would be and most agreed that more information before they started would have been useful.

But there was one answer which showed me the value of doing this research - someone had visited the Home Buyers Alliance to find out more, and having a look, I realised this was exactly what I had been looking for. No need for me to waste my time learning more about buying and selling properties to create a site which would never cover as much information as they do.

So now the problem I find is not the need for a site which gives you all the information you need, seeing as one already exists, but a better way of finding it, as none of the search terms I used bought it up, and none of the professionals we spoke to suggested it as a resource, although to be fair we did not ask.

But most importantly this is an valuable lesson in why research is essential and why sometimes you need more than a google search to work out exactly what the problem you are trying to solve should be.

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