This is the latest Research Practicing newsletter by Gregg Bernstein. Thank you for subscribing.
I love a good prompt. If there’s anything you’d like to see me cover in a future dispatch, get in touch!
Now here’s what’s hot off the presses this week at gregg.io:
Thanks to everyone who signed up for this mailing list; it’s so exciting to me to see that there are over 600 folks who are interested in the Research Practice book. I have some exciting updates.
You know how in grade school your art teacher gave you a lump of clay? And you had free rein to shape the clay into anything you imagined? “I am going to make a coffee mug for my grandma,” you might have thought. Or perhaps you had designs on a dinosaur or race car.
And then as you shaped the clay you realized that a dinosaur or race car was out of the question, and you didn’t have enough material to make grandma’s mug. So you settled on making a misshapen ashtray, even though you didn’t know anyone who smoked.
The book I was writing was headed for the land of misshapen ashtrays. I was writing about my own experiences scaling research practices for product organizations. That’s a useful instruction manual for me and any doppelgängers out there, but it’s less useful for the general audience of prospective user researchers. Which is a problem when that’s who I was writing for.
So I started interviewing other user researchers to add more perspectives to the book—folks at startups and folks at enterprise orgs. Folks who scaled practices and folks who thrive on being a team of one. My book was missing a lot of perspectives.
On one of these calls, an old friend said, “Have you considered just asking folks to write content for your book?” And at that moment everything made sense.
See, research can be an isolating activity. To mitigate this isolation, I’ve been talking to different researchers in other orgs at least a few times per month—to share ideas and best practices. It’s like my continuing education. Often what’s said on these calls is practical, reassuring, and real. It’s what user research really looks like, and it’s exactly what I wanted to share in my book.
I asked a bunch of research friends (and friends of research friends) to join me in collaboratively creating Research Practice. Instead of working alone, I got the whole class to pool our clay and collaborate on building something significant.
This is the book that every HCI, UX, and interaction design student will read to understand what applied user research really looks like, based on the stories and experiences of the people who work in this field.
While other books successfully cover the broad terrain of user research and common methods, there is not a book that adequately captures the day-to-day of the practice of user research for product organizations. From how to get started to scaling a team to working with designers to making tradeoffs thoughtfully, this book comprises the spectrum of user research practice experiences.
The book is comprised of the following sections, with each contributor writing short essays related to one or more sections:
Who practices user research?
What is the territory of user research?
How do user researchers integrate with their organizations?
What is the day-to-day of user research practice?
How do you build awareness of user research in your organization?
How do you scale your user research practice?
What’s hard about user research?
What happens after user research?
(For the 3 of you wondering what will happen to the original book content I wrote, I’m folding it into the various sections above.)
Did you read the sections above and think, “I have opinions! How might I get involved?” I got you. Reply to this email or click here and let me know how you want to contribute.
More frequent updates, to start. Here’s what’s in store:
The list of amazing contributors (it’s a great lineup!)
How I’m managing the project (tools, comms, etc.)
I also have a survey in the works for subscribers to this newsletter and the broader user research community that will add color and detail to the essays
I’ll be speaking at UX New Zealand later this month. If you’re attending, please say hi. I’m stopping in Melbourne, Australia en route; if you live in the area and want to chat, or if you have city tips, give me a shout.