LinkedIn principal author Doug Winnie describes what to look for when you build a research plan. Using a matrix of quantitative, qualitative, internal and external data, you can create a well-balanced research plan for your project and use what you learn to formulate new questions and continue getting better insights.
- A key part of performing research is to make sure you have all the corners covered. It is easy to do your research and then find out that there was something that was completely missed. Let me show you some tips to help you know that your research plan is covering enough to help you with your product. Research needs to be an organized process. Think of it as a square, and let's start by dividing it into two columns, quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is the way to get a lot of data from a lot of people.
It uses standardized questions and responses, with no room for variation. The result is data that allows to show trends and provide feedback, which can help direct your project. When you create a survey, consider the following things. How large is the entire population that you're going to evaluate? What margin of error are you comfortable with? What confidence level do you have for the reliability of the data? There is a formula that calculates all this, but here are some basic numbers that you can use as a starting point.
You'll notice that based on the population size and the margin of error that the number of responses you need will increase or decrease. The more accurate you want to be, the more responses you'll need to have. The other column is qualitative research. This is in-depth information from a smaller group of individuals who might use your potential product, or have a problem that your product can solve. Qualitative feedback provides color to the emotional and personal preferences people can sometimes have.
These preference include important information that is missed in standardized surveys. Qualitative research consists of open-ended discussion, so you're able to explore different areas, and you aren't limited to a specific list of questions. So we have two columns, a data aggregated from many, and the data teased out from a few. But there are two other ways to think about where you get your data from. These form the rows of our graph. First is internal data. This is data that you have gathered during the research phase for your product.
When you're building a product for the first time, this information can be tough to get. Once you have a product in market, you can use analytic tools to see how people are using your product. This is data that is internal to you, and only you have access to. Then there is external data. This is information that comes from outside of your product or company. You're looking at the needs of customers that are in your audience, but you don't have any internal data on them. Using these two axes and four quadrants, you can build a well-balanced research plan for your product.
- Types of products and industries
- Leading through influence
- Understanding your team
- Using an agile or waterfall development cycle
- Managing your product life cycle
- Researching your market, customers, and ideas
- Planning the product
- Building the product
- Releasing the product
- Refining the product
- Understanding when it's time to retire the product