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🗞 From Head of UX Research to Freelancer

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
5 min read
🗞 From Head of UX Research to Freelancer

Great Question
Great Question

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?

😌 Humans of User Research with Natasha S. den Dekker

Natasha S. den Dekker
Natasha S. den Dekker

Hey Natasha, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m a UX Researcher - currently working for a legal services company based in the UK (although half my team are in the US so there’s a lot of longer days!) I’ve been a UX researcher for just over 3 yrs, before that I was a librarian/information professional (they are different!) as well as a clinical researcher. I’ve worked across a range of industries and organizations which I think is one of the key transferable things I brought to my role as a UX researcher.

I started dabbling in UX research (before I knew it was UX research!) when I realized that I really cared about how to make things ‘better for people that use our services/products’ whether as librarian or working in a refugee camp - I concluded that you can’t build things in a vacuum and just assume that people will either want/know how to use them AND then blame them when they don’t know how to use/do something. My career started as a consultant for the public sector in the UK and now I’m part of an in-house team. Being surrounded by an excellent team makes all the difference.

Who has had the biggest impact on your UX Research career?
Lisa Talia Moretti - she was my first manager as a UX researcher (and now friend!). She took a chance on me - leaving the library industry with my incredibly long skills-based CV and hired me. In the current climate where I know a lot of people are looking to move across industry, and where the bar is being placed increasingly higher - managers who are able to look at a CV and see not just ‘where the person is now’ but ‘where the person could be’ and ‘what they could offer’ is an incredible skill and without which I wouldn’t be here. I’ve proven myself since but I think it often takes someone being able to see the potential and take a chance on you.

What’s your favorite part of working in UX Research?
The more I learn about UX the more I mentally apply it to the world around me. My partner works in the games industry and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the merits of the appearance of the tools/skills in the last Assassins Creed game (Valhalla). And I’ve definitely used the theory of level design to help build my own studies.

I especially like to think about  the design of everyday processes. Things like -are public bathrooms fit for purpose? Why is the process of changing your name not standardized across all companies within all industries? Even when we renovated our house, I had us think about how we were going to use and move through each space to come up with better designs and furniture choices. It’s what I love about the discipline, it doesn’t sit in a silo, it has real practical applications.

What can people reach out to you about and how can they find you?
You can find me on LinkedIn, Medium (which I keep meaning to update! And I promise I will). And Twitter. I’m happy to chat about transitioning across and finding teams that make the most of transferable skills.

Thank you, Natasha!

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio

🎉 Highlights.

12 things I learned during my first 12 months as a freelance UX researcher
Head of User Research turned freelance UX Researcher: Lessons learned and the mistakes you should avoid if you decide to go freelance as a UX researcher. Konstantin Escher 10/05

Tracking the impact of UX research: A framework
Why and how we should measure research (even if no one asks us to). Caitlin D. Sullivan 10/07

Usability heuristic frameworks: which one is right for you?
In-depth exploration, categorizization, and standardization heuristic evaluation methodologies and data visualization to help inform which method to choose. Michael Kritsch 10/10

How to break open the recruiting bottleneck in the enterprise (Sponsored)
Has recruitment and panel management become a bottleneck on your scaling UX research team? In User Interviews’s latest playbook, you’ll learn actionable strategies to break this bottleneck, speed up research cycles, and improve the impact of UXR. Read the Playbook

➡️ Approaches.

How to work with difficult stakeholders
Carrying out insightful research is the easy parts. Convincing stakeholders to follow research recommendations and to follow a user-centred design approach, are the really hard parts. Sora Shimazaki 10/10

Personas: Study Guide
Unsure where to start? Use this collection of links to our articles and videos to learn about personas and how to create and apply them. Kate Kaplan 10/09

A complete guide to UX research for web 3.0 products
How to strategize and identify friction points in the UX of web3 products and create a unique value proposition for a web3 product. Dhananjay Mukerji 10/10

Creating an engaging user research presentation (Sponsored)
Delivering a user research presentation comes with some specific challenges. This article outlines corresponding solutions, explains how to structure the presentation and shows examples of slides to share research findings. Read more

🛠 Methods.

Why field-study sessions go wrong: 5 common problems
Stay focused and avoid long complaint sessions during a field study by communicating the purpose of the visit early on, maintaining the partnership relationship with participants, and looking for concrete examples over abstract generalizations. Mayya Azarova 10/10

Learning to measure UX writing allows you to create better designs
The right words are often just as important as the right visual element. Christopher K Wong 10/05

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio

🎥 Video of the Week.

Transitioning to freelance UX research
Strategies to overcome the roadblocks you may be facing as a freelance UX Researcher. YouTube 10/07

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio

🔉 Audio of the Week.

User incentives with Nick Baum of Tremendous
Incentives accelerate recruiting, thank participants, and help you collect better data with UX research—here’s how to manage them well. Spotify Apple 10/06

Happy researching,
🗞 Jan