Why we all should be seen as User Experience Researchers

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As User Experience Researchers, we tend to pride ourselves on being seen as smart. We help frame the problem space and come up with appropriate methods, plans, and budgets to answer the big questions. A good researcher is going to know how to get the data the business is looking for.

So being seen as the “smart” researcher is going to get people to listen to you, right? Actually, in my experience, the answer is no. This mentality of being the “smartest one” can lead you down a lonely path where no one reads your polished report or listens to your intelligent data driven insights.

A wise researcher takes a step back and considers why the research is being done in the first place. The most important part of any research project is who is actually going to absorb what is learned and what they are going to do about it.

Truly impactful research is less about the deliverables and more about the experience of learning that you can share with your team.

By allowing teams to be a part of the journey uncovering the data, you are establishing people to be knowledgeable alongside you. Everyone can be the “smart” one.

I encourage every User Experience Researcher to start to do the following in their organization and then see what happens:

  • Invite people to observe usability sessions and discuss afterwards. Facilitate multiple points of view and healthy debates as needed.
  • Send your team out to gather data in the field and debrief with you after. Coach them on how to listen, observe and ask the right questions.
  • Design research studies collaboratively, coming up with a hypothesis and strategy on how to uncover the data. Send teasers on a regular basis during a project to keep the team engaged.
  • Share deliverables and encourage other team members to feel ownership of the results. It’s our research.

There are some drawbacks to the approaches above, but with some trial & error a smart UX Researcher can build awareness and get other teams to start seeing and truly caring about research and the product experience for your users.

Knowledge can be power for a company and for a development team. Showing people what they can do with the information they learn empowers people to do something with the knowledge…and makes them hungry for more.

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