At UXDX USA 2022 we invited 37 speakers to share their case studies on how their teams are improving their ways of working. The agenda is focussed on breaking down silos and helping companies shift from working in projects to autonomous product teams, and the challenges that companies face on this journey. In this series of articles we are sharing the key trends that arose at the event.
Getting research out of the report
There has been a positive trend over the past few years of companies investing more in dedicated research and moving towards Continuous Discovery. A common complaint that arises, though, is that teams put months of work into research reports, providing valuable insight but then it's left on the shelf and not used to guide important decision-making. This led to our theme this year of Ensuring that your research lands.
Katarina Bagherian, VP of user experience at Adyen, flags the main problem that occurs in her talk Supergluing insights: How to make your research stick with stakeholders
"There's not a lot of focus and energy spent on making sure that research insights stick and are really relevant to the audience"
"People spend a lot of time gathering answers to important user questions, but then even months or years later, we don't see outcomes. The challenges I've seen from not making insights stick are the products aren't necessarily showing significant improvements. Product teams might undervalue research because it didn't end up leading to product improvements."
How to go about it?
Match the communication to the audience
Investing the effort in how you communicate your findings will define the impact of your research. Katarina points out that researchers are often not trained in presentations. But they can use the principles in education theory to make sure research remains 'sticky':
- Make sure insights are relevant
- Incorporate all learning styles
- Frame the learnings as challenges
- Keep insights focused
Jessa Paretta, Senior Director of Design Experience at Capital One, suggests, in her talk Data & Design: Understanding The Relationship To Measure Design Quality, asking yourself these questions: "Did it help someone make an important decision? Did it connect to a core business need, and if you get it wrong will the repercussion for the business be severe?”
Kendall Avery, Lead Researcher, Rider Experience at Uber explains in her talk The Impact of Research Beyond the Report: "You need to cite your research so that it lives beyond the report and attend important product meetings to ensure your research is always visible".
And according to Kendall, you know when your research has landed if it's cited when you're not in the room. Other indicators are when teams start approaching you with research requests, they start speaking your 'researcher' language, and you're pulled into doing research for high-priority efforts. Giving everyone access to this research, or research democratisation, is central to this.
"Democratising research is about enabling as many people as possible to hear the in-depth perspectives and insights that your customers have: the more people on the product and innovations teams that go out and connect with customers, the better"
Adam Mertz, Discuss.io, The 5 Critical Requirements to Democratizing Research
Adam points out that in order to democratise research, you need to spend time working out how to maximise the efficiency of the interview process, while at the same time delivering better insights. "To enable democratisation, we build structured templates and playbooks”.
“In order to determine if your research lands on the right desks, the quality of the storytelling, not only the quality of the research, is an important success factor," affirms Kendall.
Reaping the Rewards
In his talk on How Research Informs Design, Osama Ashawa, UX Design Director of ChaiOne shares the value of research for designers.
"When we, as designers, present our work to clients or stakeholders, we must show the 'why' behind every design choice. It's not good enough to say this looks best or this is a best practice. Instead, we're more benefited from referencing research findings and data to show how we framed our design choices and why they will be most successful."
Katarina ends with:
"At the end of the day (if you follow these methods to ensure your research lands), the user experience will be improved through fewer support ticket tags for topics like finding something in our products or a faster time for users to complete their tasks."
I hate "It depends"! Organisations are complex but I believe that if you resort to it depends it means that you haven't explained it properly or you don't understand it. Having run UXDX for over 6 years I am using the knowledge from hundreds of case studies to create the UXDX model - an opinionated, principle-driven model that will help organisations change their ways of working without "It depends".
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