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🗞 Are you stopping one step short of driving change through user insights?

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
6 min read

Hi there! 👋 Thanks for stopping by. USERWEEKLY is your weekly email to understand what is happening in User Research. It's the best way to keep up on trends, methodologies and insights in UX Research. It is written by me, Jan Ahrend. Each week I capture the pulse of our community and answer a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?

Hi 👋,
In this issue, Christopher Norton talks about his transition from market research for industry giants to conducting UX Research at American Express, where he merges analytics and creativity to enhance B2B financial products. Featured content this week includes the common misunderstandings around survey research, the power of storytelling in interviews and the influence of AI in our field (a week wouldn't be complete without at least one article on AI in UXR.. for better or worse). A featured video and upcoming events delve into the future of user research and provide practical guidance on UX research principles and addressing research biases.
Happy researching,
🙌 Jan

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio > Events

😌 Humans of User Research with Christopher Norton

Christopher Norton
Christopher Norton

Tell us a little about yourself, Christopher.
Greetings, fellow researchers! I'm Christopher Norton, a Senior UX Researcher with a mixed-methods approach derived from years of wrangling numbers and narratives. My research journey began in market research where I initially specialized in quantitative analysis and research operations at an agency focused on the fascinating cloud computing and cybersecurity markets for both Amazon and Google. I’m currently blending data and design at American Express for B2B financial products where I thrive as a remote employee, embracing the flexibility to conduct research with our users from anywhere within US borders. In my free time, I love to travel and have a passion for a multitude of seasonal outdoor sports that occupy my time when I step away from my Macbook. I’ve been to all 7 continents, seen all 7 world wonders, and my goal this year is to finish seeing all of the National Parks in the USA.

What was the highlight of your (work) week?
While we're busy whipping up seasonal pitch decks to secure extra design and research funding, this week my team and I are also on a mission to ensure that we are connecting the dots between our work and those all-important KPIs and business metrics. In this ever-shifting economic climate, we're out to double down on proving just how crucial UX is for both understanding our users and hitting those organizational targets in our future roadmaps. It's been a joyride diving into different measurement frameworks, cherry-picking the juiciest user satisfaction metrics, and reaching out to partners far and wide to track our progress alongside some seriously cool analytics. Already, we've uncovered some gems—like how our research has sparked user-friendly process improvements and a few nifty new features, with a sneak peek at potential cost savings for the business. It’s been a fun week of internal discovery workshops to determine where we can continue to improve, and we aim to keep the momentum going in the weeks ahead!

What's the most unexpected place you've found research inspiration?
Before the pandemic, I stumbled upon an unexpected wellspring of research inspiration in New York City: Improv comedy classes. Surprisingly, this venture has yielded profound benefits to my career beyond mere entertainment (of which it provided a lot!). Delving into the realm of spontaneous humor and quick thinking (sometimes) led to a remarkable enhancement in my confidence levels, crucial for navigating complex research scenarios and engaging with stakeholders when you never quite know what questions may come up next. After surviving the painful awkwardness of some improv scenes falling flat in front of an audience, few things rattle me anymore. Those improv classes refined my presentation skills and expanded my ability to think swiftly and adaptively. I’d recommend an improv comedy lesson to all fellow researchers (most improv comedy venues offer them), as it’s an unconventional but entertaining avenue to enrich and elevate one's capabilities as a UX research practitioner.

How can fellow researchers connect with you to discuss shared interests?
If you're itching to dive into riveting conversations about research topics like UX metrics, accessibility, and AI (especially within cybersecurity)—a few of my passion areas—then LinkedIn is the place to link up! If you’re the outdoorsy type as well, then add me on Strava too!

Thank you, Christopher!

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio > Events

📚 Articles of the Week.

A decision framework for UX resourcing
To meet growing research demands amidst rapid business growth, prioritizing research democratization and evolving Research Ops, particularly addressing Organizational Context, is crucial for scaling impact effectively. Dawn Ta 04/03

Surveys and the "True Score" mistake
Increasingly, I think there is a deep and mostly unstated assumption about survey research that drives profound misunderstanding: the belief in a "true score". Chris Chapman 04/03

Are you boring your interviewer by over-explaining context?
How to use the power of narrative to engage interviewers with your design portfolio. Christopher K Wong 04/03

User research with humans vs. AI
AI enhances but can't replace human touch in user research; real customers offer invaluable insights and nuances. Jakob Nielsen 04/03

The continuous discovery habits of inspired lean startups and lean UX sprints (Generic book x)
New business and tech books often repackage existing concepts with slight variations, emphasizing the need for critical assessment before adopting them into UX research practices. Debbie Levitt 04/03

Are you stopping one step short of driving change through user insights?
Why creating user insights, not presenting information, is critical to persuade teams. Christopher K Wong 03/27

Top AI tools used by UX professionals
UX professionals leverage a variety of AI tools, with ChatGPT emerging as a dominant choice, highlighting the significance of specialized AI applications tailored for UX research needs. Jakob Nielsen 03/27

Is two years too long for a user research project?
Insights gained from assessing the viability of a two-year user research project, along with key considerations for smooth execution. Fri Rasyidi 04/02

User experience research with ChatGPT: my life hacks, mistakes, and conclusions
AI integration, like ChatGPT, in user interviews at Lamoda Tech streamlined research, saving time and offering insights into user motivations, showcasing AI's potential in feedback strategies. Mike Iakovenko 03/29

Future of UX Research
Addressing Challenges to Scalable Research Maturity in a Product First World. Jon Fukuda 04/03

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio > Events

🎥 Video of the Week.

The Future of User Research: AI and Beyond with Andy MacMillan
Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting, highlights the transformative potential of AI in user research, emphasizing the importance of scaling efforts to cover diverse users and influencing stakeholders to secure funding for research initiatives. YouTube 03/28

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio > Events

🔉 Audio of the Week.

Kick-start creativity using desk research with Victoria Sakal of wonder
Erin and Victoria Sakal, Head of Growth at Wonder, emphasize the critical role of desk research in project initiation, highlighting methods like web searches, internal resources, and colleague interviews for valuable insights. Spotify Apple 03/01

🗓 UserCalendar: Events of the Week.

UXR Fundamentals: Interactive workshop with tools, templates and Q&A ($299)
April 9 @ 11:00 am – April 10 @ 2:00 pm EDT
This two-part workshop offers a comprehensive guide to mastering UX research, exploring essential methodologies, tools, and techniques to uncover meaningful insights, reduce bias, and effectively communicate findings for impactful decision-making. Learn more

Navigating Research Biases : Guiding Decisions and Mitigating Risks (Free)
April 10 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm EDT
In this free workshop, participants will gain crucial awareness and strategies to recognize and mitigate research biases, covering cognitive biases, biases impacting enterprise researchers and projects at the stakeholder level, and various mitigation strategies, providing essential tools for more objective decision-making processes. Learn more

AMA with Roy: UXR’s strategic home base — positioning for maximum impact (Free)
April 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT
Join an AMA session with Roy Opata Olende, Zapier's Head of Research, discussing strategic positioning for maximum impact in UX Research, covering intersections with design and product, reporting structures, Roy's experiences at Zapier, future insights, and Q&A. Learn more

How to build a self-serve research knowledge repository (Free)
April 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT
Discover strategies to create a scalable knowledge repository and leverage research insights for organizational impact, overcoming obstacles and implementing effective methods, shared by experienced practitioners. Learn more