2018 Research Resolutions

Reflecting on the past to better ourselves and our craft in the year ahead.

After reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned throughout 2017, our research team has put together our resolutions for the new year. These resolutions are what we’d like to try more of and where we’d like to see the team go — from collaborating more radically with our designers to building lessons from the humanities into our work.

Build more holistic empathy and ownership — Katie.

Katie Johnson, Senior Experience Researcher.

Over the last year, we’ve been changing up our research processes to empower clients to use our findings strategically. The best way to do this is by empathizing not only with our client’s end users, but also with the client themselves. By better understanding what the client, their team, and their larger organization are trying to accomplish from the get-go, we can design our research methods and deliverables to promote the client’s appreciation and ownership of UX research.

Empathy workshops and co-analysis are great ways to help the client truly understand our findings, our analysis process, and the final result. Don’t get me wrong, we still do the analysis! The client just gets a better perspective into how we got to the final result, which puts them in the driver’s seat with our research going forward.

My resolution: in 2018, I hope to work with clients to establish more collaborative research scopes, leading to promising partnerships and more usable, meaningful deliverables.

Push the boundaries of our presentations — Lisa.

Lisa Otto, Experience Researcher.

One thing we’ve been talking about a lot at EchoUser is how integral our client presentations are to communicating the value of UX and getting clients on board with the UX process. In our roundtables, we’ve talked about telling stories and showing things like video clips and prototypes rather than reading off of presentation decks. Or, as Katie discusses in her resolution, how presentations can be a key touchpoint in the client-consultant relationship and can be deeply integrated into the design process through workshops. We’ve talked about amping up the visceral nature of our findings so clients can become more immersed into our work, so I want to try out some of these new ideas we’ve been discussing.

My resolution: in 2018, I hope we’ll explore the possibilities of the findings presentation further through storytelling, experience prototypes, and workshops to engage our stakeholders more fully in the UX process.

Remember users are people, human people — Evan.

Evan Fishman, Experience Researcher.

As the new year approaches, many of us are unwittingly unrealistic with our resolutions. “I’m going to exercise at least once a week!” Sure you are, sure. Not to worry, as UX researchers we can set more realistic goals for the new year that will drastically improve our research practice.

Personally, my resolution for 2018 is to keep in mind that “users” are people — human people with pre-existing beliefs and psychological tendencies that influence their experience with a product.

Too often, we’re thrown into situations in which we’re churning out sterile usability tests that are fixated on the product without taking into account the humanness of our user participants. Studies have shown that users’ outcomes are impacted by their personal beliefs. For example, users who are more confident in completing a task are significantly more likely to do just that. Similarly, users’ brand attitudes can significantly impact their experience with a product. Depending on what you’re studying (e.g., usability, brand perception, satisfaction) there are psychological variables that, if controlled for, allow us to examine the entirety of our participants’ user experience.

My resolution: in 2018 I want to continue to provide our clients with complete, accurate, and actionable findings that take into consideration the humanness of their users.

Bring storytelling to our work — Christine.

Christine Lee, Experience Researcher.

One of the things I like about UX research is being able to hear little soundbites of people’s lives. For instance, the diary study I am doing right now has participants recording how a novel device affects connectedness in relationships and it offers a glimpse into the participants’ past experiences and personalities.

My next step with the project is to figure out how to take insights gleaned from these stories and create a narrative that could offer more than bullet points of future steps, but a compelling and meaningful story around the users of the device. I especially want to see how this can be achieved by collaborating with designers and learn how to visualize the storytelling process and the presentation that could engage and resonate with the clients.

My resolution: in 2018, my goal is to incorporate better storytelling in presentations and daily communication to give a richer and fuller picture of our research findings to clients.

Integrate the humanities into research — Deirdre.

Deirdre Hirschtritt, Experience Researcher.

As UX researchers, our work is heavily informed by fields like psychology and sociology. We are lucky to build our work on the foundation that those fields have set, using methods like ethnography and observation to understand how people interact with products and complete tasks. Though we make heavy use of the social sciences, I believe we miss the opportunity to integrate lessons and methods of the humanities in our work, an opportunity I hope to seize in 2018!

Client presentations are some low-hanging fruit for integrating humanities methods. The arts have shown us how visual representation can convey strong cultural meaning, cultural “codes” that would enhance the messages we share from our research if used strategically. Literature is another field I want to explore more deeply. How does the poetry of our language impact the interpretation of research questions, workshop prompts, and client presentations?

My resolution: in 2018, I want to explore and integrate the myriad ways that the humanities can enhance our research practice, workshop facilitation, and client presentations.

Collaborate with our in-house designers — Alec.

Alec Strandberg, Experience Researcher.

With so many clients realizing that any good product requires research and design, there’s a lot of potential for us to leverage the fact that we have experienced people in both fields all under one roof. However, I feel that currently the way we marry research and design is a bit ad hoc and informal, and even though we’re all working together, things can get out of sync occasionally.

It can especially be hard to provide regular feedback during periods of rapid design iteration, as the time needed to set up the research sessions and plan out tasks needs to be balanced around the designer’s need for rapid, immediate feedback.

My resolution: in 2018, I want to figure out a way to make this collaboration with our designers easier and less time-consuming for both parties so more time and energy can be put towards the work itself!

Get out of our comfort zone — Meagan.

Meagan Sharif, Experience Researcher.

I am excited to push the boundaries with our methodologies in the coming year and take advantage of our combined UX toolbox. The research team at EchoUser comes from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, giving us access to a plethora of research tools to choose from. We are all comfortable with our own set of methods, but I would like to see more of a mix and match from our different backgrounds pushing ourselves to create new combinations of methodologies. We will be challenging ourselves and our clients to think outside of the box and go outside of our comfort zone, which is really where the most interesting things occur.

By pushing these boundaries I think we will be able to tailor our projects more closely to the research needs of our clients and get at insights that may not be achievable through standard methods such as usability and diary studies.

My resolution: in 2018, I want to see us get uncomfortable, trying new research methods and strategies in our work.

Do you have UX resolutions for 2018? Feel free to comment and share!

EchoUser Research Team

Jan 1, 2018

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