Ask The Experts is a series in which we ask design leaders from our community common questions from UX professionals or those seeking a career in UX. This month we're covering how UX research fits in at local organizations.
How does UX research fit in at your organization?
User research comes in different forms with the essential idea of understanding users through their expectations, their physical and organizational environment, and their feedback on design solutions. At SAS, in addition to creating design solutions, User Experience Designers also have the job of conducting user research, enabling them collect first-hand information from users. SAS has a User Research Lab where usability tests and user interviews can be conducted, recorded, and analyzed. A database of users and customers is maintained, and surveys are often sent out to users for specific products or areas. We also have a Research Ops program that aims to empower all Designers to conduct, track, and share research findings across products, areas, and personas over time.
Product teams typically care more about the design solutions we create, but good designs need to be grounded in user research. User Experience Designers plan the time and space for user research. We often partner with product managers, customer success managers and other customer facing teams to gain access to and build partnerships with key customers and users. It is often challenging to fit user research into the tight schedules necessitated by the agile development processes that we use. However, we find it helpful to plan and start larger research efforts ahead of time and make incremental progress during development stabilization sprints to continue with user research. It is also important to streamline user research efforts so that we can turn around results faster.
Huifang Wang, Senior Manager of User Experience Design
At Red Hat, the UX Research team lives in a centralized User Experience Design (UXD) team under Engineering that supports the entire product portfolio. This puts our team in a unique position to break down silos, make connections across products and consider the end-to-end experience. The researchers work closely with designers, developers, and PM to conduct generative and evaluative research that influences the user experience with data and user insights. It’s exciting times. The research team has recently grown from a team of 5 to a team of 15 in the past year. They are a diverse team with different perspectives and skillsets, exploring new partnerships and maturing research practices in our organization.
Amy Glass Manager, User Experience Design
Leslie Hinson, Manager of User Experience Design
User research is increasingly part of many teams at Lenovo. For the Next UX team specifically, user research is an integral element of our work. It is woven into our mission and cyclically into our processes. Research goals and methods vary based on whether the project is in a discovery phase or validation phase (or in between), but we are always building our knowledge of users and their context. We have UX research specialists who lead the way while we also work to democratize interest and participation in the research among collaborating designers and stakeholders. Ultimately, user research is about steadily improving our insight to guide project direction and any recommendations into the business.
Aaron Stewart, Director Next UX & UX Research
We consider ourselves a digital agency, though most projects involve websites or web applications. What we pride ourselves in doing, however, is solving business problems. To successfully solve problems, user research is indispensable. Without an understanding of the needs and motivations of users, user experience design, and the functionality that drives it, would be based on guesses.
Among the methods we employ are online user surveys, client interviews, user interviews, and analytics review.
While we don’t want to undertake projects without access to user research data, we don’t insist on performing it ourselves. Some of our clients perform their own, while others employ third-party agencies for strategy and marketing that perform the user research.
While user research is essential, we acquire the information through a variety of methods and sources.
David Minton, Managing Partner