Image Credit: Oliver Degabriele (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Here’s My UX Research Philosophy. What’s Yours?

I was at a job interview recently where the hiring manager asked a question I should have seen coming, but didn’t. He asked: What’s your UX research philosophy?

I came up with an answer on the spot that was imperfect, but it’s been in my mind ever since. What is my UX research philosophy?

Here’s my attempt at fleshing out my original answer:

My research philosophy is grounded in considering research subjects as humans, not users. Sure, it’s important to consider how the people we design for can be a monolithic group, for the sake of business goals in particular. It’s helpful to think of them as one type so that we can design with one big goal in mind. But I think the nuances of our users, their wants and needs as humans — individuals — is where the best designs emerge.

It’s my goal as a UX researcher to discover those wants and needs, whether individuals can articulate them clearly or not.

Through practices of observation, contextual inquiry, and heuristic evaluation, we can get to the unspoken but common needs and practices of users. By listening to people through interviews and surveys, we get at the emotion behind those actions. How do people feel when they complete a task easily, or how do they feel when they struggle to get stuff done?

I love asking these questions, finding the answers, and working on a collaborative team to categorize, strategize, and tackle these issues.

I love helping shape a design that speaks to the desires, needs, and goals of our users as humans.

All of this, my entire research practice, is guided by the principles of universal design. When we design for the nuanced, lived experience of those who are all too often poised on the margins, we end up designing a better experience for all. This design starts with listening and understanding our users as humans. That’s what I aim to do as a UX researcher.

So what’s your UX research philosophy? Respond with a comment below or hit me up on Twitter — @deirdrebeatrice.

Deirdre Hirschtritt

Written by

User Researcher at Code for America. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, ethical research & design, and puppies. deirdrehirschtritt.com

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