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User Weekly #20, November 2

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
7 min read
user experience research strategy

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 across the industry. It is written by me, Jan Ahrend. Each week I go through content from mainstream media to small blogs to capture the pulse of our community and answer a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?

😌 Humans of User Research w/ Sofia Linse

Sofia Linse

Hi Sofia, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Sofia, a Senior UX Researcher at Braze, a customer engagement platform that provides tools for marketers to create personalized, contextually relevant cross-channel communication. Previous to Braze, I lived in Stockholm, Sweden, and worked for a local research consultancy. I moved to New York in 2018, and since then, I’ve become mildly obsessed with the city. I adore the contrast of shining skyscrapers next to messy and busy streets, the proximity to water and parks, the incredible food, and the overall diversity and international vibe here.

What’s your favorite thing about your current job?
So many things. I really like the early stages of planning and structuring a new project: the act of narrowing down a problem-space to researchable questions and coming up with ways of approaching them. I love the mix of critical thinking and creativity required in this process: the need to really think through a problem, distinguish facts from assumptions, identify and prioritize learning goals, and figure out the most efficient method for gathering reliable and unbiased data. All of this while working within the constraints and realities that come with a fast-paced product development context.

Another favorite part is having those very first user interactions in a project, and how they sometimes completely turn your perspective around, help the team see things in a new light, and propel us in a new direction. Or the late stages of where it all suddenly starts to come together and make sense. The feeling of arriving at a pretty rich and nuanced understanding of something you recently knew very little about is so fulfilling. I’m still fascinated by the fact that, at least with qualitative research, even a handful of conversations can often get you there.

What was the funniest/weirdest experience you had in a user study?
A strange but fun memory that comes to mind was at a previous job where I worked on a consulting project for the Swedish furniture company IKEA. As a Swede, I always feel a silly yet undeniable pride at their stores. I struggle to keep myself from approaching just about everyone to explain what the weird product names mean or convince them to buy inlagd sill or Kalles kaviar (both of them smelly, strange fishy things that Swedes obsess over). In any case, this study took place in IKEA stores. We observed and interviewed shoppers about their hopes and dreams for their homes as well as more concretely about their shopping experience, with the ultimate goal of evaluating product design and the furniture assembly process. The best part of the study was to follow some customers home to see them putting together the IKEA products. It turns out that humbleness is the key to success - those who were too confident very often missed that one crucial screw in the beginning and had to start over again, whereas careful (and slightly terrified) customers usually did great!

What would you like to talk about with other researchers and how can they find you?
The easiest is to reach out on LinkedIn, I’m always excited to connect with folks in the field! Topics that are currently top of mind include best practices for scaling research teams, recruiting and incentivizing B2B customers, and processes for facilitating collaboration between UXR and data science/BI teams.
Also, talk to me about Braze! We’re growing the research team and currently have a Senior UX Researcher position posted (see listing for New York, San Francisco, or Remote). We will also likely open up for mid- and entry-level roles soon. Connect with me if you’re interested in learning more!

Thank you, Sofia!

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio

🧐 Thought pieces.

When to skip UX Research
Our industry spent decades convincing organizations that UX research was worthwhile. When should we skip it?. (Medium 10/28)

The "Highs & Lows" approach to product testing
Use this flexible design to identify marker moments, whether that's for candy or your UX. (dscout 11/1)

UX Strategy: How to research & create one effectively
A well-defined UX strategy is as important as your organization’s mission statement. A user experience strategy helps guide UX teams when conceptualizing and designing new digital products. (UXpin 10/31)

🛠 Methods.

How to analyze and visualize users’ feedback by leveraging reviews scraping
Build a heuristic evaluation Angular app. (Medium 11/1)

Spooky sample sizes: Choosing “the right” number of research participants
It’s easy to feel intimidated when people question your sample size. The trick (or treat) is choosing the right method and backing up your data with additional research. (dscout 10/31)

How many participants for a UX Interview?
In the early stages of a UX-design project, recruit enough people to gain an in-depth understanding of users’ experiences and needs. The number of people needed for an interview study is often smaller than you think. (nngroup 10/31)

Three ways to measure a user’s prior experience
There are many ways to characterize how people differ. But one characteristic that drives both attitudinal and behavioral UX metrics is prior experience. (MeasuringU 10/26)

🛬 Approaches.

Neuroscience, design and their direct impact on human psychology
Designs have a big impact on human behaviour. This impact can be positive, but it can also be negative like in the housing complexes of St Louis.It’s our ethical obligation towards users to make sure that this knowledge is used to foster good and healthy behaviours, rather than promote perverse or “dark” behaviours. (Pine 10/29)

How to conduct user research in an agile environment
When working on two-week sprints or similar frameworks, how do we ensure user research is part of the process?. (Dovetail 11/2)

Stop fearing the “professional" participant (they’ll benefit your next study)
Our concerns about bias may lead us to reject our most engaged panelists. (dscout 10/30)

📖 Principles.

The cognitive science behind Games User Research
Summary of cognitive science principles and examples of where these principles can come up in game design. (Gamasutra 10/29)

Attrition bias in research
Attrition is participant dropout over time in research studies. It’s also called subject mortality, but it doesn’t always refer to participants dying!. (Scribbr 11/1)

Why do people hate redesigns?
(UX Psychology 10/28)

🚀 UX Research Operations.

Building a research practice at User Interviews: The first 30 days
The VP of User Research reflects on her first 30 days, and shares how the User Interviews research strategy has come together. (user interviews 10/29)

The secret to higher ROI? redefining UX research
Users do not know what they want and this is especially true for innovative and disruptive technologies. If your idea of UX Research is showing designs and asking users if this is something they think they’ll like, you are limiting the growth of your business by inadvertently forcing it into a logical fallacy trap. (UX Collective 10/29)

🎥 Video of the Week.

UX research: All together now
Integrating a thriving research practice into fast-moving engineering cadences can be tricky. How Taylor Palmer partnered in the past with departments across various companies to bolster and support UX research efforts. (YouTube 11/1)

The role of UX Research in early product development
The value of UX research and how it influences the success of your product. (YouTube 10/27)

Spotlight > Articles > Video > Audio

🔉 Audio of the Week.

Participatory Research
What is participatory research? And how do you include it in your UXR practice? Alexis explains how she involves stakeholders in engaging workshops, co-creates with participants, and takes research readouts to the next level to drive a participatory research practice that works for everyone. (Spotify 10/27)

Who's afraid of UX Research?
Hear Natalya Sarana (Flixbus) best tips on how to document research projects and how to share the results with stakeholders. You’ll find out what cloze testing is, the basic formula for a research hypothesis, how to keep track of your research impact and why we can’t expect amazing results all the time. (Spotify 10/28)

📆 Events.

UX Research meetup & event guide November 2021
Virtual talks, meetups, networking events, and conferences around UX Research in November. (Condens 10/29)