Announcements

Presenting the UX Research Field Guide

How and why we're building the resource for anyone who does user research.

Erin May
/
March 8, 2018

I’m so excited to share the—partial, soft—launch of our UX Research Field Guide. Why partial? Why soft? How did we get here? For this and more, read on.

How we got here

If “UX Research Field Guide” means nothing to you, check out my last post, where I wrote about the card sort that lead to the IA you see now.

Basically, our goal is to create a rich resource of fundamental UX research content. Some of the qualities we hope will define and differentiate our experience are:

Something for everyone

For UXers new to research, marketers or PMs who do research sometimes but not as a primary function, or experienced researchers focused on building a team with impact and influence throughout an organization, this Field Guide has something for you.

Just as design thinking has started to permeate all areas of organizations, we’re starting to see user research do the same, and couldn’t be more thrilled about it. That means a whole new audience of people can benefit from UX research content, tailored to their needs at the moment.

In each chapter we assume you know nothing about the topic, but try not to treat you like you know nothing about, you know, life or user research in general. We know you’re smart people who get things quickly when they’re explained straightforwardly.

Get it how you want it

When you click any of the numerous “subscribe” buttons you can choose which modules you want emailed to you, one chapter every three days. Or go for the full experience. Or skip the email signup and just stop by whenever you like. Bookmark link for reference. It’s up to you. We don’t force anyone to fill out a form to read our content. More on that another time.

Would anyone be interested in subscribing to a web push experience? Help me settle a bet with our head of product and let me know: erin@userinterviews.com.

‍What a web push notification would look like on your desktop.

Approachable and engaging

There are some great resources out there for user research content. Nielsen Norman Group, GV on Medium, Usability.gov, and many others producing excellent feature and blog content like UX Collective, the Mixed Methods Podcast, and so many more. We wanted to blend the evergreen, authoritative format of the former with the engaging, readable, bingeable qualities of the latter.

We do this through lots of instructive but approachable text, a wide array of heading styles (we’re up to <h5> at least), and your stories, photos, and videos from the field. If you have a story to share, we’d love to feature it. Write me at erin@userinterviews.com.

Living, breathing, and feedback driven

We really try to practice what we preach here, doing the upfront research work to create content we believe you will value. But we’re launching something that is very much not done. How well are we living up to our intent so far?

On the something for everyone front, we’ve launched 3 of 8 modules so far, and I’m confident once we’ve published them all, we’ll have achieved that goal.

On the get it how you want it side, our signup modal has been performing very well so far. At the same time, most people are signing up for everything. We’ll need to look into why that is and adjust based on a) do folks actually want and stay engaged with everything or b) not. We’ll also be sharing a proper preference management page in the near future and, possibly, web push subscriptions. Want a text instead? Let me know! We can do that.

‍Signup modal

In terms of approachable and engaging I’m loving the overall design and content, but we have a good amount of work to do here too. We’re tackling this on a few fronts:

  • Adding anchor links to make the longer pieces more navigable. [Update: done!] Next up, add more in-chapter navigation.
  • Adding more stories. Send your 100-300 word stories and tips from the field my way!
  • Including more images/videos/graphs to explain concepts and break up the text. Again, send ‘em my way. I’m also looking to get some custom produced graphics and illustrations. Know someone looking for a gig? Send ‘em my way.

What are you initial impressions? How would you like to give feedback? Email? Google/Typeform? Should we add comments to our blog? Let me know: erin@userinterviews.com.

Why a partial, soft launch?

So, I wrote a bit about why we’re creating this Field Guide form the user perspective above. Of course, we have some business goals too, and we want to align user goals and business goals as much as possible. Business after all is not a zero sum game where our needs are pitted against yours. No no no. That is not what we’re all about. But I digress as I preach to the choir.

Primarily our business goals are to:

  • Attract new customers through “top of the funnel” engagement via reading, sharing, trusting us with your email address
  • Continue to build relationships with our existing customers with content that reflects our values and expertise.

Launching without a completely realized version of where we want to be, and without a complete catalog of content, allows us to reach our goals faster, provide value faster, and gain feedback iteratively, such that I’m very confident when we launch our last (currently planned) module, the execution will be beyond what I could have imagined had we done it all at once.

But launching something incomplete and imperfect is hard. Knowing it will be more complete, more perfect, and more responsive to your feedback every day makes it totally worth it. But lest I undersell our accomplishments thus far, with the intention spirit of transparency, I do want to celebrate this exciting moment!

What’s in the launch?

We are launching with 3 modules, or 12 chapters, or over 35,000 words of content. We’ve designed a completely new experience with 3 templates. Check them out below.

‍The Field Guide Index page lists all published modules and those coming soon, plus gives you a way to subscribe.

‍Each module page lists the chapters in the module, a quick overview of the chapters within, and a list of other modules to scroll through.

‍The chapter pages, the meat of the Field Guide, cover a key topic of user research in-depth. They are as long as they need to be to cover the topic, but no longer.

On the business side, organic and paid emails are coming in and engagement metrics (shares, time on site) are looking strong.

In terms of personal learnings, I’m getting better at asking for and acting on feedback in a dispassionate way. I’m learning to ask for help, as when everyone on the UI team did a final typo check the day of our initial soft launch last week. Everyone found something. Our head of product helped with a lot of miscellaneous technical and design elements and our head of company (CEO) saved the day when our freelance designer didn’t work out totally perfectly.

I learned quite a few things in Webflow to help build out our CMS and tweak our designs. I built a crazy looking flow in Autopilot to account for the various modules folks might sign up for (see below). I launched my first LinkedIn ad—that ad platform could use some UX research if I do say so myself. I created the ad in Canva, which I also used for the first time to make the interview template here. None of it is totally polished or perfect. But it is good, and it communicates, and it works, and I’m learning stuff.

‍Crazy journey

The alternative? All of this could be sitting in my fancy Airtable base, not doing anyone much good. And it’s really exciting and motivating as we continue to build it, to see what it already is.

Airtable, organizing my work life since late 2017.

But enough about me. I want to hear more about you. Check out our Field Guide 1.0. Please send me any and all feedback—erin@userinterviews.com—including how you’d like to leave feedback in the future.

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Erin May

Marketing, content, UX, CRM, and brand enthusiast. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held. Lead marketing at User Interviews.

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