TL; DR: If you want to do user research but don't know where to start and could use a collection of no-nonsense tools that focus on practicality instead of formal correctness, consider picking up this quick read.
The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley is written for a specific kind of person.
If you're a part of a mature product team or your company has one, this book might not be for you.
But if you need to be able to go from idea to a solid, research-backed product spec without much help and don't have a ton of experience, this is absolutely the book for you. A few scenarios where it will come in handy:
If this sounds like you, you could benefit from this book.
If you don't have the bandwidth to read an entire book but would still like to learn a bit about how to do user research in the next five minutes, read my Poor Man's Product Research Tips post instead! 😏
The majority of the book is a collection of practical UX research and design tools & practices, organized based on where in the overall process they come in. There are also a bit boilerplate-feeling, "what is user research?" and "how can I grow as a UX person?" chapters that seem safe to skip for most readers.
The parts of the process the tools & practices cover:
Altogether, the tools & practices portion of the book is around 140 pages.
The User Experience Team of One is a great book to give you a quick sense of the glaring gaps in your UX design process. It also helps you patch them by providing practical tool ideas you can quickly put into practice. After finishing the book, you will likely walk away with a few concrete ideas you can try in the following weeks or months.
The book presents all tools with a consistent structure that makes the book a great reference. I especially appreciate the inclusion of:
If you suffer from imposter syndrome as a product manager, this book should help. You are likely already doing a fair amount of the activities mentioned in the book. Seeing that you are not that far off in your process from someone who has written a book on the topic and most of the gaps in your process are relatively straightforward to patch should make you more confident about the level of your product work.
Lastly, if you like paper books, do yourself a favor and get it in paper format. It's full color, quality paper, and lots of fun to leaf through. Mine arrived only after I wolfed down the ebook, and I wish I had waited for the paper book as the ebook doesn't contain any of the visual flourishes of the paper edition.
The book was written in 2013, and part of it feel stale. Picking up the book, I expect that the problem area will lend itself to evergreen content well, but there are two areas where the book shows its age:
The second thing to mention is that at 39USD for an ebook, the book feels relatively expensive given the rather casual nature of its content. At the same time, this is a book for a particular market, which makes the price feel more justified.
Note to Europeans: Avoid ordering from Rosenfeld if you can. They are very slow to ship and send books from the UK, making it likely you will need to pay a not-so-small import tax.
If you're not talking to your current or prospective users, find someone to talk to and schedule a call this week.
Before you get your bearings, ignore articles about selection bias, unrepresentative sample sizes, etc. Instead, focus on getting the ball rolling. Remember that since your research techniques are not rigorous, you still need to apply your product taste to check them, and you'll be fine. Once you feel comfortable scheduling calls and talking to real people about your product, you can gradually add more rigor to your process.