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I've seen people base their research on their own experience as the user.

I know that using yourself isn't as useful as going out and collecting data from a pool of people, but someone suggested just using myself as the user is a good starting point to conduct a study.

The case study I want to conduct is on the user experience of a popular web app.

Thoughts?

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Short Answer: No.

Long answer: The biggest problem is that you will probably end up assuming you know what users are thinking. Or you'll try to not-know what you already know. Which is really difficult.

One method of collecting user behavior metrics on websites is through heatmaps. So, imagine having to USE the website knowing that there is a heatmap installed. Exactly. Your behavior patterns will be vastly different from someone that is using it "blindly".

In no particular order: 1. You risk being biased. 2. You will tweak the timeline for tests to suit your activity. 3. You may struggle to test the effect of varying internet speeds - therefore denying your test that valuable metric.

So, no.

Exclude yourself from this test.

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You can use yourself as a data-point if you match one of the personas you are designing for, but need to be extremely careful about doing it.

It might not always feel like it, but as somebody working on a product, you have privileged knowledge about that product and the thinking behind it. A user who isn't you won't have that. A typical user also won't have as direct a means to question or challenge things or as much knowledge about how to proceed when things don't go as expected.

So you're not a typical user, even though you might think you are. You might tick all the right boxes, but you tick some extra ones as well. If you go in with that knowledge, it can be a useful first step... but you should really make sure it's followed by a second step, a third step and so on.

My advice would be that if you're going to use yourself as user zero for research purposes, you follow it up with more research to challenge anything you learn from that first step. Seek further validation for anything you learn from using yourself as a subject.

Your own experience in that situation is relevant but different to that of a user without your privileged position. Understanding that difference is important in this situation.

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No. The point of a user study is to serve as a reality check against your own design instincts, to ensure that you’re designing for a real user base and not just according to your own personal taste and preference.

Your own point of view will already be amply represented in the design, because you’re the designer. User studies are a structured way for you to learn about and accommodate other points of view. Doing a “user study” with yourself as the user isn’t a user study, it’s a tautology.

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