The needs of user researchers

Simon Hurst
Feb 1 · 2 min read

I recently joined the Department for Education as a user research lead. I’ve just finished my third full week.

One of the first things I was asked to do was to speak to the product manager community about how they could better support their user researchers so that they can help them to do their best work. I ended up jotting down my thoughts as a series of user needs that a user researcher had of their product manager. The talk seemed to go down well so I thought I’d write it up as a quick blog post.

As a… user researcher

I need…

  • to be encouraged and supported to do just enough research, so that… I have time to help the team analyse and understand the findings thoroughly without burning out
  • to be allowed to do the right research in the right way, so that… our work is quality, robust and suitable to face GDS assessment
  • to be helped to see and understand the bigger picture, so that… I ensure we’re tackling the right problem
  • time and space to think, so that… I can do the best work possible
  • time to properly plan and prepare research, so that… I can conduct quality research
  • to be able to understand and challenge your decisions, so that… I can feel we’re doing right by our users
  • help to get the team and stakeholders involved in research, so that… everyone understands and empathises with our users
  • constructive challenge on my work, so that… I can improve, and to ensure I do the best work I can for the team
  • to know you’ve got my back, so that… I don’t feel like a lone voice when advocating for our users
  • wall space to work on, so that… I can analyse, share and communicate our findings
  • to be taken seriously and credibly, so that… so that I feel confident about the work I do
  • clarity on what you need to learn, so that… so that I can ensure the research help us to achieves our goals
  • care and support, so that… I can let go if things get overwhelming
  • time with my peers, so that… I can learn from them and share what I’ve learnt

These are really just a starter, hopefully, they’ll provoke some discussion and help to clarify what conditions help researchers do their best work.

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