Kat Matfield

Product Design (F) 2016
Product Design (F)

Session type: Lecture
Session level: Intermediate

How to do effective research in an irrational world

Agile research and discovery phases rely on observing and speaking to real users about their real behaviour. Just one problem, we can’t always trust what they say or what they do. This talk outlines the ways in which your users (and the rest of us) behave irrationally, and how to conduct research that gets you to the truth, regardless.

Regular contact with users is now common for even the smallest of agile teams. But some of the fundamental techniques used for user research and discovery can lead you astray. Why is that? Put simply: your users don’t always know what they want or even what they do. Because of cognitive biases (‘bugs’ in our thought processes) none of us are as rational as we’d like to believe, or as good at predicting what we’ll want or do in the future. You can’t fix this kind of bug, but by using insights from behavioural psychology you can tailor your research and discovery phases to avoid them. That way, you can build products that users will love (even if they didn’t realise they would).


Kat Matfield is a digital product and service designer. She’s worked with start-ups and large corporates to help make innovative new digital services or improve existing ones. She’s fascinated by all the areas of life in which people believe strange things and behave irrationally, and how to design services that embrace this, instead of fight against it.