So far so good: beginning a career in user research at Deliveroo

I started working for Deliveroo as a Junior User Researcher back in January. At the point of joining, I had no experience in research or product whatsoever, so this year has been a big one…

Here’s just a few of my thoughts on what it has been like to begin a career in user research, and a little bit of advice for anyone doing the same!

Do your research

In the first few weeks (although I’d been made to feel very welcome!), things were a little overwhelming. Terms and concepts flew straight over my head as I stared back vacantly, nodding dog-esque. I often found myself frantically googling things post-meeting in an attempt to make some sense of what I was hearing! I hadn’t realised part of this role would involve learning a new language. Something which really helped me in my first month was having one to ones with as many of the team members as I could. They told me about their roles, their current projects and how these interacted with other teams’ projects. This was a really quick way to get a lot of context on our products. It also meant I was less likely to forget their name, win-win.

Throw yourself in

I quickly learnt that the pace is fast! The mentality of the design team at Deliveroo is to get things done and to get them done well (and beautifully). Research therefore plays by the same rules. So although I began as a blank slate, my only option was to hurl myself into the deep end (knowing I can’t swim) and learn from there. An example here is probably the best way to demonstrate what I mean…

“We need to do some usability testing” said a product manager one hectic Tuesday. Having only recently learnt what the term usability testing means, I soon found myself booking a lab, writing a recruitment brief and discussion guide, and meeting with PMs and designers to ensure we were testing the highest priority prototypes. Before I knew it, I was conducting my first session with a real life, actual participant. Strangely, the participant was the least of my worries. It was the nine pairs of beady eyes behind the one-way mirror that kept my heart rate high! Looking back, I’m now fully aware they weren’t interested in me, but at the time it felt like a one-woman performance.

Beady eyes watching my debut performance!

Since then, the research team has completed loads of projects, from huge formative pieces like journey mapping, to diary studies, to ad-hoc phone interviews. We’ve even squeezed in a handful of international research projects (it’s been tough 😎). As a newbie to the industry, I can hardly believe how much I have been able to do in the past 12 months. I’ve been trusted to take on a lot of responsibility, leading on a number of projects and now acting as the primary researcher for two product teams. Even though things seemed a little daunting at first, I’ve realised that throwing yourself at something really is the best way to learn (and no one is here to judge you!)

So I’m very thankful for the ‘get things done’ approach here at Deliveroo.

A tip or three

If I could give advice to anyone starting a career in research/design/tech…

  • In the early days, talk to as many people as you can. People really like to help.
  • Keep asking questions, ask your colleagues, ask Google, ask your Mum (although it’s unlikely she’ll know). Keep asking, even when you’re no longer new.
  • Go for it. The sooner you get something wrong, the sooner you can try it again and do it better.

The research team at Deliveroo has grown hugely in 2016, and it’s been really exciting to grow with the team. If anyone is interesting in working with us, you can apply to join our team here. Alternatively, if you just wanted to reach out — sophie.woods@deliveroo.co.uk.