A while back Erik Guttman posted an item to IxDA list discussing the role user research plays in product design:
I have repeatedly attempted to explain how user research can serve to identify, prioritize and clarify product requirements. I have difficulty for a variety of reasons.
- people confuse or fail to see the distinction between inbound marketing research activities with user research
- people fail to distinguish between customers and users
- people do not understand the qualitative methods used to perform user research
- people often confuse user research with usability studies
To clarify these relationships, he created this user research context map, and he’s interested in getting feedback on the subject.