A sample UX Research case study.

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By far, the most frequent question I get asked is, “how should I write a user research case study?” The second most frequent question I get asked is, “what should I include in my case study?”

What is a user research case study?

A…


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I always get asked about how I conduct research interviews, and each time I do my best to explain my techniques. I mention research plans, TEDW techniques, not asking about the future, and being careful not to ask leading questions.


From the first time I heard about user research to my first internship.

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Since I was young, I had my sights set on becoming a vet or a psychologist. My parents laughed at the thought of me being a vet. If I saw an animal even stub their paw, I’d be in tears. I spent a brief time shadowing a vet when I was younger. I lasted about 2 hours before I ran out crying, swearing off my future as a veterinarian. I then dove into my second option, psychology.


And the questions I received were fascinating.

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The other day I was invited to an informal product meetup as an informal speaker. My fiancé (yes, we got engaged!) is a product manager in Berlin, and he meets about once a month with a group of about ten other product managers. They swap stories and experiences, discuss tools, and seek advice from one another on all things product management. I, personally, imagined meetings filled with JIRA talk and phrases like, “it depends…”


And how I recovered.

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I had just joined my second full-time job in user research at a company called Olapic. I was bushy-eyed and excited. A few weeks in, I was doing a good job learning and absorbing all the information I could. I was proud to have recently learned how to write research plans in a new way. I was also delving into the subject of discovery research, of which I had almost no experience.


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When I was first starting as a user researcher, I had no basis of understanding how projects worked in tech companies. The only mental model I had of research was academia. I was unable to find examples of research projects online and had no idea how they worked. Eventually, I learned that once I saw research in action. However, it would have been highly beneficial for me to understand the overall process beforehand.


Which user research track should you choose?

Dilbert comic on freelancing
Dilbert comic on freelancing
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There is no right way to get into user research or one perfect next step on the journey. Whether you are just starting or have been in the field for years, there is no “correct” place for a given level of experience. There is no template for the perfect career path. We are user researchers, and we come from a large variety of backgrounds. Our paths will be just as varied.


And why it is one of my favorite methods.

Dilbert comic stripe about navigation
Dilbert comic stripe about navigation
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There are a few reasons I love card sorting so much. The method is simple, effective, and fun to participate in (for both the moderator and the participant). I was surprised when I realized I hadn’t written an article solely on card sorting. It deserves it’s time to shine.


When 1–3 years of experience is necessary for an internship

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A company’s expectations of user researchers are high. It is a competitive world out there, especially for people looking to break into the user research field. My heart sinks when I view intern or junior positions that require experience (stop doing this!) or act as though applicants should already be experts. While I believe we need to revamp our hiring process, this is the current situation.


Creative ways to share user research insights

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The first time I was asked to create a research report, I was lost. After spending my life writing academic reports, I was used to the long-winded, endless vocabulary in these presentations. Producing a report like that, as a user researcher, would prompt a lot of blank stares. And when I tried it, it did. After (many) failed attempts, I have finally found three ways to effectively share user research that is tangible, creative, and realistic for a user research team of one or fifty.

Nikki Anderson

A qualitative user experience researcher who loves solving human problems and petting all the dogs

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