Scaling the Deliveroo User Research team

Almost exactly two years ago, and six months into my role building the research discipline at Deliveroo, I wrote about how we were doing and the challenges we were working on overcoming.

It’s fair to say that things have changed a lot since then — our team has grown from 2 to 13, researchers now work embedded in product teams, we’ve started to build a research ops function, and I’ve learnt an incredible amount about how to build and scale a user research team.

One team, one dream

As a research team, we’ve always considered ourselves to be responsible for understanding the end-to-end service experience for our users. Over the years, I’ve grown to see Deliveroo less and less as just a product, and instead as a service with a huge real-world component. Our technology is just one crucial element of a very complex real-time logistics operation, and truly improving the experience requires a deep understanding of user needs at all points of this service.

As a result, over the years we’ve started to work more and more with our colleagues outside of technology. We’re now in a place where virtually every project we work on happens in close collaboration with people from Deliveroo’s operations, commercial, comms, or marketing teams, as well as of course designers, product managers, and engineers.

The research we do has become far more effective by working in a truly multidisciplinary way like this, rather than working in a silo focused on tech.

It means that if we notice in usability testing that riders have concerns about a new feature, we can make sure that the comms we send out to them on launch addresses these concerns. If we see that customers in a particular market consistently talk about finding out about a brand on TV, we can make sure we change our marketing strategy to harness that knowledge. If we see that specific restaurants are feeling that they need more support, we can work with the account managers to reach out to them.

It also means that tech teams are not the only people who benefit from first-hand exposure to, and feedback from, users to help them make decisions.

All of this is great for the company — we’re truly designing our services end to end, with the user at the heart of our decision-making. But I’ve started to realise that working in this way presents a new challenge for us as a research team.

From generalists to specialists

So far, when looking for researchers, we’ve hired with a bias towards people who have experience conducting qualitative research, ideally with some knowledge of other methods.

We’ve realised that this needs to change. As our team focus is becoming broader, we need to be able to turn our hand to projects that are better suited by a widening range of methodologies. Ethnographic fieldwork, global surveys, and international usability benchmarking are just a few examples of research methods that two years ago would have been hard to find a place for in the work we did, but are now regularly areas of expertise that we find ourselves wishing we had on the team.

So from today, we’re starting to grow our team in a way that is better suited to the challenges and opportunities we now have ahead of us. We’re going to be hiring for 4 different specialised roles:

Quantitative User Researchers

Qualitative User Researchers

Usability Researchers

User Research Managers

The goal will still be that all researchers can turn their hand to any method, but by hiring people who specialise in these areas, we hope to be able to up-skill each other, and to work as a team to make sure the person with the right skills is matched to the question we need to answer.

I’m really excited to start speaking to people who specialise in these areas — if you’re keen to learn more, then please get in touch with me! We welcome applications from far and wide — Deliveroo are happy to sponsor visas for the right candidate, and we also help with relocation if you’re currently overseas and keen on a move to London.