2 hours every 6 weeks, or why watching people use your thing regularly makes you a better designer/developer/product manager

At the Government Digital Service, we user researchers have a mantra: “2 hours every 6 weeks”. This means we expect everyone to attend 2 hours of user research every 6 weeks. This doesn’t have to be observing a usability session, or in-home interview (although that would be nice). It can be going to a research playback session, or attending a user research show and tell.

Even though we repeat this mantra in our training, and we have posters on our walls, it’s a really easy thing to forget to do. And teams I’ve worked in forget it all the time. In my experience, it’s not a natural thing to look out, to people outside the team. Teams have a tendency to look inwards, towards the centre, towards each other.

So I wrote a blog post to remind everyone, and to have something to remind myself of why it’s so important.