The State of User Research 2022 report has arrived! Explore the data.
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Our VP of User Research reflects on her first 30 days, and shares how the User Interviews research strategy has come together.
On my first day, I was pretty taken aback by how much love and respect there is for UXR as a practice. In retrospect, this shouldn’t have been surprising, given our product and mission! Whereas in previous roles I’d spent the early days advocating for why research was important—I quickly realized that wouldn't be needed at User Interviews. Everyone already got it. That meant I could spend more time actually doing the work from day one. What a wild concept!
Straight away, I started putting together a hybrid onboarding/research plan that focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the hopes, dreams, and perception of research at User Interviews. The end goal of this work was enough in-depth insight to confidently craft an initial strategy for the coming months.
With this plan in hand, I took the first two weeks to kick off some activities that would help ground my foundational understanding of where things stood within the business.
One of the first activities I did during my first week was a lean canvas activity—essentially a one-page business plan template. This activity allowed me to dive deeper into the User Interviews business model and understand things like cost, unique value prop, and marketing channels. Deconstructing these things was a critical step that helped me identify any blindspots in my understanding that I could then clarify during conversations with my new teammates.
Next, I put together a skills survey that would help me understand how my new team members rated their research skills and competencies. My hope was that this would inform future ideas around internal research education. I let the survey stay live for two weeks before analyzing the results. Overall, 80.5% of employees who responded indicated that they are interested in participating in training and education related to UX Research (yay!).
Out of those who were interested in training, the top 5 requests around training were:
This was exciting feedback! To deepen my understanding of internal needs further, I set up 1:1 stakeholder interviews with 40+ members of our team. These interviews really allowed me to build trust and to understand the challenges people at User Interviews encountered within their roles—and to identify how research could help ease some of the pain.
During this time, I started getting invitations to observe sessions led by the product team, as well as discovery calls by our sales and customer success teams. These sessions gave me the chance to hone in on what was actually happening, rather than simply listening to what my teammates described doing within their roles. Together, these three things—the internal survey, team interviews, and sitting in on sessions—gave me robust early insights into the needs and current practices of the team.
Much of my time during these initial two weeks was internally focused, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't lose track of the customer's perspective.
So I decided to do something really meta and conduct a solo heuristic evaluation, or usability inspection, of the current product experience.
To do this, I picked out some core user flows that our customers use when trying to recruit customers for research studies. This allowed me to identify usability issues in the current experience. I even ended up launching my very first project on User Interviews! I recruited customers for 8 voice of the customer interviews in order to understand more about our customers’ perceptions and pain points in their experience.
After the heuristic evaluation and interviews, I consolidated my insights into a short presentation, including highlight reels, that I then shared with our product team. Much of what I learned validated the work our teams were already focused on, and gave me ideas about where research could focus more narrowly over the coming weeks and months.
My final step was to facilitate a UXR Maturity workshop with our product leadership team, during which I led the team through an activity where we rated the current state of research practice and looked ahead to where we’d realistically like to be.
This exercise allowed me to open up a candid conversation about some of the challenges we might encounter on the road ahead.
As all of this data came together over my first 30 days, I began to notice some themes around the hopes, dreams, and expectations for research at User Interviews.
I’d spend the next 30 days creating a vision for a research practice that would help us achieve those goals and build out a truly best-in-class user research practice. I’ll be sharing more about that in my next post—so stay tuned!
VP, User Research
Roberta Dombrowski is the VP, UXR at User Interviews. In her free time, Roberta is an adjunct professor through Boise State University's Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) program and mindfulness teacher.