Thanks again to everyone who signed up for this mailing list. Research Practice: Perspectives from UX researchers in a changing field launches next week! You can pre-order the e-book now, and the paperback will be available on 19 January 2021.
Today I want to share examples of what you’ll find throughout the book: interviews, essays, and short answers from practitioners. One of the meatier topics I cover in Research Practice is how to get started in a new role. When I transitioned to this field from design in 2012, the literature on establishing or scaling a UX research practice was scant. Now enough user researchers have worked with organizations and teams of all shapes and sizes that collectively we’re better prepared to set ourselves up for success.
Considering a research opportunity
In “Considering a research opportunity,” I unpack the many factors that feed into a job decision:
Your choice is more than a vector of salary, benefits, and location. You also have to weigh your personal values against the mission of the organization. If you personally value a well-informed public, but that runs counter to the organization’s goal of disseminating any and all information and misinformation so long as the shareholders profit, you’re probably not going to be happy (nor should you be able to sleep at night).
Read “How to consider a research opportunity.”
The best place to get started
In “The best place to get started,” I speak to Janine Coover about where new researchers should start their careers.
Working in a consultancy or agency is a great place for a new design researcher to get started, primarily because you have a number of different clients, different kinds of challenges, and different team makeups. Oftentimes you have people that you’re working with on your team who have a variety of past experiences with user research. So it not only allows you to get a taste for an experience in different industries that you wouldn’t otherwise have if you are working within a single organization, but it also allows you to see and jump in midstream with projects at different points in their evolution.
Read “The best place to get started.”
Why organizations hire user researchers
I surveyed the research community about a number of topics, including why organizations hire user researchers in the first place. Here is an example of what I heard:
Sometimes organizations open roles because they think they should, perhaps because it’s an industry trend or someone has a vague idea in mind of how the role might work. Alec Levin offers his perspective:
I think a lot of orgs are hiring right now because research is trendy. Lots of folks are talking about it, and they want to be cool too and have their own researcher. Some hire a researcher because their UX is bad, or their product retention sucks, but ultimately I think the vast majority of hiring managers do not understand the full potential of the role.
Lucas Wxyz echoes Levin’s comments: “Sometimes organizations seem to hire researchers because it is the flavour of the month, but they don’t know what to expect.” Or perhaps they have vague expectations but can’t articulate what those expectations are, as an anonymous respondent participant writes:
Sadly, many places I’ve worked have hired user researchers because they thought they had to, yet had no idea how to create a healthy working environment for them. The good orgs understand how vital it is to learn from their audiences and customers as they endeavor to design and create products and services for them.
Read more about “Why organizations hire UX researchers.”
Next week the book launches. Until then, you can check out the list of contributors and the table of contents. Stay safe.