8 signs you need to do (more) research (differently)

Loïs Gauthier
November 8, 2022

Most UX professionals agree on the need to do research. However, it might be difficult to convince your colleagues and hierarchy to conduct it often enough, to give you enough resources to conduct it properly, or to use the results of research appropriately.

This article is a simple self diagnosis tool to help you understand your own position, or to feed your discussion with internal stakeholders on the importance of doing UX research.

8 signs you need to do (more) research (differently)

They refer to how you and your organization conduct research, how stakeholders use research insights and what drives the research. Try to see if you identify yourself in some of them.

Stakeholders

  1. Some of your stakeholders do not seem convinced of the need/value/ROI of UX research
  2. If you are the only UX professional at your company, the first challenge will be to convince your colleagues that your work can help them reach their objectives
  3. Even if you are part of a bigger and structured UX team, it might be a challenge to spread the value of UX across other teams.
  4. In both cases, it means there is work to be done on the way you position yourself and your role. Try to emphasize on how your work will support the whole company’s goals and KPIs. Each time you deliver insights, try to link their implementation to the positive evolution of a company KPI. This can only happen if you have a clear understanding of the company’s vision and objectives, so do your internal research first!
  5. Share success stories of other companies that were led by UX research. If you are able to find such success stories among your competitors, it will give your arguments even more impact.
  6. You have trouble convincing internal stakeholders to use the insights you drive from research
  7. If you are a researcher, you might lack visibility on how your insights are used or realize they are not used at all.
  8. If you are a designer conducting research, you might face reluctant product managers or developers who either don’t believe in the relevance of your insights or don’t want to prioritize them.
  9. Remember that delivering insights is not your purpose. The optimization of the overall user-experience is your ultimate goal. To do this, you’ll need to follow up with the rest of the product team after you’ve delivered your insights - take part in roadmap discussions and sprint plannings, find allies or people who could be accountable of delivering the right improvements based on your insights.
  10. Make sure that you’ve delivered your insights in a clear and impactful way. Check whether you provide clear recommendations, and show how they might improve your company’s key KPIs as much as possible. If needed, ask your stakeholders how they would like to receive these insights.
  11. If you believe your insights are not used at all, show the negative impact of that lack of action! Find examples of how KPIs have stagnated or gotten worse, all because recommendations that could have turned the tide based on your insights were not used.

Company culture

  1. You make product/design decisions based on best practices or on the opinion of the most senior/convincing person
  2. Depending on the culture at your company, decision-making based on data and user insights might not be a given.
  3. Remember you cannot change the company culture by yourself
  4. Rather, try to take it step by step and position your research as a decision-making tool (user insights = y, following y leads to = positive KPI evolution, recommended actions to follow y = x, and then focus on pushing x)
  1. You have no persona shared across the organization and/or your teams disagree on how to use these persona, or you have a persona but it has never evolved
  2. Depending on which team you are a part of (product, marketing or dedicated UX department), persona might have been developed by one team or the other and it is possible they have not spread across other teams.
  3. Your role as a UX practitioner will be to unify these personas to make sure the whole company is working towards the same goals. This comes with extensive research and the involvement of as many and various stakeholders as possible.
  1. You focus on features more than on problems
  2. Because of company culture, objectives and/or your own biases, you might emphasize too much on creating new features.
  3. Remember your work is to find solutions to user problems, not creating features for the sake of it. Try to rationalize how you and your team prioritize feature development, what is the process behind it and what drives decisions. It should be about the user, not how cool the feature might be.
  4. Using this approach will encourage you to do more research and to start from the user, not the product: focusing on the why rather than on the what.

Research process

  1. You only use certain methods and mediums of user research
  2. You might be more comfortable with one method that you’ll use extensively but remember they all have different purposes and applications. There is no “one size fits all” in user research!
  3. Diversify your methods (qualitative and quantitative) and mediums (focus groups, interviews, tests, diary etc) : you’ll see, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of your users!
  4. 🇫🇷 Lisez notre articles sur les 8 méthodes de recherche qualitative pour inspirer vos sources de connaissance utilisateur et créer une vision plus mature et globale de leur expérience
  1. You conduct tests with the same testers each time or with colleagues, friends or family
  2. Testing with participants that are not part of your target (colleagues, friends or testers irrelevant to your research) creates a lot of bias because their insights might guide you in the wrong direction. Finding a reliable source of testers is necessary to ensure the quality of your research.
  3. To find quality testers, you can also leverage internal resources: working with marketing, CRM and sales teams. They can help you reach wider and more targeted audiences. For examples, they can give you access to their prospecting or advertising tools for your research.
  4. When budgeting for your research, remember to include compensations and recruitment fees. This will increase the cost of your research (if you were testing with “free” testers so far) but will also improve its relevance.
  1. You only conduct research for some steps of your design process (ideation, exploration, testing) while others are not driven by research
  2. Maybe you, your team or company are used to using UX research for usability studies only (or any other step).
  3. By focusing on specific steps of the design process, you are missing on important insights that would help you increase the ROI of your research.
  4. Try thinking of research as a continuous process by blending lines between different steps of the process. To do this, establish a frequent input of feedback (users and teams) coming to you in order to feed your research.

Additional tips to boost user-centricity

Because the knowledge that “user testing is necessary” is not enough to create a culture of user-centricity, here are some small steps you can take to incrementally involve more and more stakeholders in the research process:

  • Try starting small. Driving engagement and enthusiasm around user research will help you storytell your successes and its value. In time, this will help you lobby for more ambitious projects. This is also a way to avoid being discouraged by repeated barriers in your insights delivery.
  • Share your plan to involve people more in your research, both formally (email, meeting) and informally (breaktime, chat) . You can start by asking for their help which is probably going to be more efficient than asking them to use your insights.
  • Share the results of your study in a public space (ex: Notion or Google Drive, or specialised tools like Dovetail and Condens) and advertise it to the different teams with personalized insights that apply to them specifically.
  • Include all departments in your research process (even if their tasks are not directly linked to customer related topics). For example, just like Simon at Ubble, invite a different person to join every user interview/test, so that they can create empathy.
  • Encourage your colleagues outside of research teams to conduct research themselves (give them access to your tools, provide demos, guides and offer your help). Then, help them consolidate their insights and share them across the organization (read how Payfit does that).
  • Regularly share UX success stories that inspire you and add insights on how they could be translated for your organisation

🇫🇷 Pour en savoir plus sur comment démontrer la valeur de la recherche utilisateur dans votre organization, lisez notre article sur le sujet.

We know it can be hard fighting to prove the value of UX research within your organization. To keep you motivated and know you are not alone, we recommand you join groups of UX professionals online to share your struggles and learn from others (Slack: Mixed methods, Research Ops, Meetups, Friends of Figma).

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