What's Your Definition of Good UX Research?

This week, I’ve been thinking about the dangers of operationalizing UX research.

I’m very much in favour of putting systems and processes in place that enable research at scale (I mean, it’s kinda my entire job). But getting more people on the research train also has its hangups.

I recently read through a few research findings compiled by someone on our team. This person isn’t a full-time researcher, but they do a fair amount of UX research.

I was shocked. 😳

Despite this individual’s hunger for customer insights and apparent research skills, I saw very basic errors that led to unhelpful insights.

This person thinks that they’re doing good UX research. Heck, I thought they were doing good research before I read that doc! It turns out that their appetite for learning and years of experience in this field hasn’t added up to high-quality practices.

What’s scary is to think about this multiplied out across our entire team.

What Does *Good* Mean to You?

Everyone has their own definition of *good* UX research.

  • If you’re a PM who started doing research while in a startup, good UXR might mean consistently speaking to customers

  • If you’re a designer who worked in a large company with many full-time researchers, good UXR might mean independently running usability tests

In both these examples, there’s no axis for quality or best practices.

Everyone comes into your company with differing perspectives of *good*. I’m not delivering novel information here. All I’m saying is that you don’t really know the quality of someone’s work through a conversation about that work. You need to see the work itself.

In trying to scale research, it’s an easy option to believe that people can deliver quality research insights when they’re eager to learn from users, can speak well about UXR, and consistently run projects.

But you never really know until you see the work. And in a company with lots of research going on, seeing all that work is a tough task.


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