Designer vs Developer by Google Design Advocate Mustafa Kurtuldu is a series of videos aimed at improving understanding between what are often seen as two separate camps. Each video, in which Kurtuldu has a conversation with a different industry expert, is accompanied by an essay (below) which delves deeper into the topic discussed.
To start with, I have to state that you should always have professional researchers on hand to do research properly, in the same way, you need a trained designer or engineer. That said, if you are starting out, or want to improve your process and site or app, diving into research is the best thing you can do to improve the work that you do.
When you run research during product development, what you are looking for are the problems people have with your product, what works for them and what doesn’t. So, if you’ve never done this before, a good starting point is asking people who are available to you, to use your product while you observe them. Over time you should recruit users that are more representative of your target market, but if you want to get going by surfacing some usability issues, you can make a start with colleagues (particularly those in roles other than tech) and friends.