Meet Shopify: A commerce hub empowering entrepreneurs to succeed
Learn about UXRConf sponsor, Shopify, and their community of UXRs
Since its 2006 release, Shopify has experienced an explosion of growth. The platform has expanded from being an eCommerce platform to a commerce hub, where merchants can manage every part of their business, seek help from experts to grow their stores, and connect with a community of business owners. Today, over 800,000 merchants trust the commerce hub with their business, including brands such as: Kylie Cosmetics, Allbirds, Unilever, and more.
Within the company, Shopify’s UX Research team has also flourished. It started as a team of one with Lynsey Thornton (now VP of UX!), and then grew to two, when Dylan Blanchard (now a UX Research Lead in Ottawa) transitioned to a UX Research role from Customer Support six years ago. Today, Shopify’s UX Research team stands strong at 55 people who are embedded into different teams, where they uncover insights that help teams build seamless experiences for merchants, partners, and buyers.
In the community, Shopify UXRs can also be seen making an impact by sharing their insights at meetups and conferences. This year, Shopify is helping bring the community together at the 2019 UXR Conference as a sponsor. Let’s take a closer look at one of the sponsors helping make Strive a reality.
A diverse community with a shared passion for learning
Shopify’s UX Researchers come from almost every background: design, anthropology, commerce, government, and more. Each Researcher draws from their own experiences to contribute ideas and has different ways of approaching projects (adding to the strength of the team). Furthermore, each Researcher owns their projects and therefore has unique insights to share with the larger team.
The team shares a passion for learning and enjoys sharing their learnings with one another and within their own project teams. They are constantly seeking ways to improve their skills, and always willing to help each other grow.
Alê Luz, a Researcher on the Retail Team, credits the large Shopify UXR team with helping her build confidence in her craft. She says,
“Here at Shopify, we have so many researchers we can share pain points and successes with. The collaborative environment is amazing; we give feedback on each other’s work, improving our craft and skills on a daily basis. Sharing knowledge is valued and recognized so the team is always passing forward their learnings and skills. And to top it off they are all nice and wholesome people.” 💛
Sharing is caring at Shopify 🤝. Although there are 55 UXRs across the company spread throughout different cities — Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Waterloo, there are plenty of opportunities to interact. Every week, researchers have a digital standup where they share what they’re working on and any new learnings. The entire team also meets remotely once a month for a Research Show and Tell, where people share their work. In each city, researchers meet regularly to socialize and share what they’ve been working on or learned.
Shopify’s research team is also passionate about sharing their insights with the growing UXR community. Not only are they sponsoring this year’s conference, you can also catch Alison Post and Rubén Pérez Huidobro on Day 1 in the Advancing Your Practice track speak about their 3-month diary study. In their talk, they’ll explain how they coordinated this massive project, how they kept their users engaged, and how they communicated results to their team. You can also read more insights from Shopify UXRs, as well as other UX practitioners, on the Shopify UX blog.
At Shopify, UX Research is a team sport
The mission of the UXR team is to guide and inform Shopifolk towards designing and building experiences that are effortless for merchants. They use a variety of methods to understand their needs and motivations to bring areas of opportunities into focus. Researchers engage their teams in the research process and even mentor designers to conduct their own projects.
Alison Post describes in this blog post how she involves her team from the beginning of the research process to increase engagement, participation, and impact. At the beginning of a project, she meets with the team to align on what they’d like to learn from the research and discuss how the results will be used. She invites them to attend sessions, which speeds up her analysis process by asking attendees to share things that stuck out to them. While other researchers have different approaches, researchers often involve their teams in the process and encourage them to attend user interviews or usability sessions. Team members are excited to sit in on these sessions which helps them build empathy, as well as better understand the problems that they’ll need to address moving forward.
UXRs are also increasingly finding opportunities to mentor designers to conduct their own research. Melanie Buset is the only UX Researcher on her team and often helps designers with conducting usability testing to help scale the impact of research. She sits down with them to discuss what areas of the prototype they’d like to gather feedback on, works with them to craft unbiased interview questions, helps with recruitment, and runs a synthesis activity with the designer once the sessions are complete. Melanie also sits in for the first few sessions to provide the designer with feedback on their interview skills, then checks with them halfway through all the sessions to see if there is anything with the prototype that they might want to change. As a result of this mentorship, designers learn about what work is involved with setting up a research project, at a company as large as Shopify.
Shopify paves the way for upcoming UXRs
Shopify always paves the way for upcoming UX Researchers through internship opportunities, where the goal is to turn promising students into employable practitioners. You may hear from Shopify employees that interns “aren’t really a thing” because they are treated like full-time employees. UXR interns can expect to lead their own research projects, with the support of a mentor. Interns will decide which methodologies to use to answer their research questions, recruit participants, lead and conduct sessions, and work with interdisciplinary teams to share insights that inform the project.
Interns at Shopify are also given the opportunity to own their development — they can decide what they’d like to get out of the experience and what goals they want to work on throughout the internship. Mentors will help interns create an actionable plan to achieve these goals, which can be anything from learning new research methods to working on presentation skills. At Shopify, interns are encouraged to meet as many people as possible to learn from them. Interns are also encouraged to get involved and take initiative — if there’s another project they’d like to work on, they can let their mentor know!
Shopify internships are usually posted online four months before the start date and they hire for the winter, spring, and summer terms. Visit their Internship page to learn more about what it’s like to be a Shopify intern and for any available positions.
TL;DR: Shopify is a great place to grow as a UX Researcher
Shopify UXRs have the opportunity to work on projects that directly impact people’s lives. They contribute to Shopify’s mission of “Making better commerce for everyone” by uncovering insights that help drive the platform forward.
The research team is a community. Everyone has their own story and contributes different skills and perspectives to the team, but all share the goal of helping Shopify merchants succeed. They enjoy sharing and learning what everyone is working on; give and receive feedback to help each other improve; and are very supportive of one another. If you join the team, expect to be welcomed with a flood of Slack messages and tons of emojis.
If you love learning new things, enjoy working in a team, and are passionate about helping people, Shopify may be the place for you. Shopify’s researchers actively seek new learning opportunities and are committed to developing their craft — this includes reading books and attending workshops and conferences. An important part of the research culture in the company is getting other disciplines involved in the research process to help others better understand users. Team members are always excited to attend sessions and hear what merchants have to say!
Excited to learn more about Shopify? Visit their website to learn more about life at Shopify and for open UX Research positions. You can also see Shopify UX Researchers Alison Post and Rubén Pérez Huidobro, speak in the Advancing Your Practice track on Day 1 about how they conducted a 3-month diary study and kept users engaged.