Researching your own home?

4 UX research frameworks that weirdly apply to your homelife

When your homelife is shaky, everything else tumbles.

Especially when folks (like me) work from home.

So I used some UX design research methods—which are kind of like a structured way to observe how things work well… or don’t. And I investigated and found some cool new ways to improve homelife.

Here's how I investigated. But first…

Why would you research your homelife?

When you're too close to a problem, you can't see a way out.

This happens extra with the most familiar parts of our lives—including home. Zoom out by taking a human-centered approach to understand homelife. (Human-centered is kind of like making sure something actually helps you thrive as a person.)

Apply this kind of research to get a new perspective on how you can make your home better for the people who live in it.

How we’ll do it, step-by-step:

  1. Know your user

  2. Identify the pain points

  3. Benchmark “competitors”

  4. Pay attention to golden nuggets

Discover a creative & sustaining way of life at home by designing it.

Here's how.

1. Know your user

Who are the users of your home? By users, I mean the people who use your home.

  • yourself

  • your pet

  • your family

  • your roommates

  • your over-night visitors

  • your Bachelor in Paradise watch party crew

What are quick demographic facts about these users (age, sex, ethnicity, creed, financial status, etc.)?

If you know your user, you remember who your home is for. Home is for people. It's so obvious it's easy to forget.

By knowing who they are, you can empathize with your user's experience of home.

And since you (by definition) live at your home, it even means tuning in enough to self-empathize!

2. Identify paint points.

In user research interviews, we ask open-ended questions about people's experiences and listen for pain points.

Some questions include:

  • What's going well?

  • How does it get derailed?

  • What's missing?

  • How do you wish things could change?

And a few questions directly about homelife:

  • How do you feel when you get home?

  • How would you describe your sleep pattern?

  • What does social life look like in your home?

  • How does home foster relationship for you?

You can discuss these questions casually over dinner. Pay attention to the pain points, the negative experiences of home. These are what you'll want to change.

Home life pain points might look like:

  • Neglecting cleaning

  • Lack of sleep and rest

  • Not enjoying your interior design

  • Dreading being around a roommate

3. Benchmark "competitors."

This is a standard UX design research practice—paying attention to what the competition is doing.

Applied to homelife, this isn't about folks you're "competing" with so much as people whose homelives inspire you.

Who are you inspired by?

Here are some examples of homelives you might take inspiration from:

  • The Jewish family nextdoor who hosts a weekly shabbat meal

  • Your friend with minimalist interior design taste

  • Your in-laws who have a beautiful marriage

  • Your dad who naps watching football


Pay attention to the people, practices, and rhythms you find inspiring.

Again, it's not about "competing" with them, but they might have features of homelife worth imitating. They might hold a key to enhancing the joy & peace of your own home.

4. Pay attention to golden nuggets.

A “golden nugget” is user-research lingo that means:

The piece of information that gives you an a-ha moment.

Think of it like finding gold & shouting "Eureka!" When investigating your homelife, note the golden nuggets. They show new options to try. A new & valuable insight.

We did this recently in my family, and here are the shifts to homelife we are trying out:

  • Family walks each morning

  • Regular nights of the week for hosting

  • Getting 1 day/week childcare help with our infant

  • Candlelit, no-tech Friday nights for talking & drawing

That's all!

Here are the 4 user research steps again:

  1. Know your user

  2. Identify pain points

  3. Benchmark "competitors"

  4. Pay attention to golden nuggets

What are some changes you might want to make in your homelife?

What golden nuggets do you find after you empathize with your home’s users, identify pain points, and notice what “competitors” are doing?

Until next time!

– Matt Barrios

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