Scrappy research

You have limited resources but also want to build an incredible product. Or you might have limited experience with product research.

Scrappy research advocates for doing minimum viable research (or arguing that you’re probably already doing it!). It’s a way of demystifying research.

What’s Scrappy Research?

Especially in the open-source world, we know there are limited resources. There is often no budget for research (let alone time to do it formally!). And sometimes, there’s no budget at all.

So, scrappy research is a way of getting insights without making a “whole deal” out of the process.

Scrappy research achieves the following:

  • It allows you to sanity check your outputs without investing in a big research process

  • It helps you debias and focus instead of being swayed by opinions

  • It gets you the most leverage for insights, with the least amount of input

  • It allows you to mine for user pain points ongoingly, without stopping the process of building

How to Do Scrappy Research

Scrappy research isn’t a “step by step” process. It’s more a philosophy with a set of questions.

Below are a set of questions that indicate you’re doing scrappy research. The more answers you have to each question, the more likely it is you’re doing scrappy research.

  • How important is it to you that your users provide feedback on your ideas or product?

  • What are you doing to ensure you’re not blind-sighted by your biases about your idea, product, or market?

  • What are you doing to get user feedback about your idea or product?

  • What are you doing to store the feedback you get from users?

  • How are you analyzing or grouping your findings together from user feedback?

  • How are you acting on your findings to inform your backlog?

Examples of scrappy approaches to research:

  • Get feedback from informal conversations with users

  • Put out a message on social media, Discord, or similar for user feedback

  • DM your users for feedback

  • Look at what similar projects and allies are doing or how they’ve solved similar user pains

  • Make it easy for feedback to come to you. Build a “provide feedback” option on your product or making it clear how to contact you if users have thoughts (a form on your landing page, in your product “menu,” as issues in GitHub)

How do you know you’ve done “just enough” research?

  • You got feedback from at least 5 users about a discrete design or idea

  • You got feedback from a diverse set of people

  • You did your best to ensure you get feedback from users and the market

  • You made it as simple as possible for users to provide feedback

Examples of scrappy research on bitcoin/lightning projects:

Overall, a minimum viable amount of research is probably better than no research.

Additional Reading & Resources