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🗞 'Research Brain': The effects of User Testing on the Researcher

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
5 min read
🗞 'Research Brain': The effects of User Testing on the Researcher

Great Question
Great Question

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?

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😌 Humans of User Research w/ Lesley Crane

Lesley Crane
Lesley Crane

Hi Lesley, tell us a little about yourself.
I think of myself as a social scientist and sometime ‘bricoleur’ – someone who integrates and applies a range of research methods, tools and theory to describing a problem experienced through the eyes of users as contextually-situated actors. I think it’s important to differentiate between a description based on my own interpretation and understanding, and that of the users who experience it. It’s about authenticity. It’s tempting to think that the observation of what a user says or does gives an accurate account of reality. That’s just the veneer – what I try to do is understand what meaning the users are creating, what version of events they understand and experience. That’s where my academic background Discourse Psychology comes in. UXR really is a privileged profession – what other job lets you glimpse inside the lives of people from all walks of life?

From your experience, what is one of the biggest challenges user research(ers) face today?
I don’t know about other UXRs, but I would say that the biggest challenge I face as a UXR – particularly a freelance UXR – is a combination of two things. First, having to report findings and insights in the briefest possible way. What’s the point of all that investment in time and effort if all you get time to report is the dust on the icing? Second, UXR really does need to be and work at the heart of management/stakeholder/client action and not just in daily stand-ups but as a key player in the action. I believe UXR should set directions for the whole project, and only that way do you get a project that really does put the user at the centre of its design. And that relies on having the space, time and tools to practice UXR in a rigorous and authentic way.

What do you remember most about your first UXR job?
Being told by my new client that ‘I have no brief for you, I just wanted a user researcher on my team!’ From this unpromising start, we developed a really good strong working relationship based on mutual trust and respect. And I had the opportunity to do UXR in a way that allowed me to follow and build on the layers of findings and insights as they evolved. That journey took us in directions not imagined at the outset but which proved to be precisely the right ones to resolve the real problems that research uncovered.

How can people learn more about you and your work?
I publish new blogs when I can. Anyone interested can find these on my website ( I can always be found and contacted on Linked In. I want to build my network of professional friends in UXR so it would be a pleasure to hear from other passionate researchers!

Thank you, Lesley!

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🎉 Highlights.

The effects of user testing on the researcher
Ever wondered why your brain doesn’t function very well after a day of user testing? Mental health and “Research Brain”: What it is and how to mitigate it. H Locke 03/18

How companies invite to their UX research participant panels
How these companies invite people to join their internal panels for upcoming research studies: Atlassian, Dropbox, Sketch, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Salesforce, IBM, Workday, coinbase, intuit. Sina Schreiber 03/16

Seven inquiries for ethical UX research
UX research can unfold more justly for practitioners and participants. Yet, discussions of tech ethics can feel slippery. This article uses concrete examples—income access, mental well-being, housing, and more—to approach ethics as an ever-evolving set of personal and community principles. Torin Jones 03/20

🛬 Approaches.

Making research a team sport: 5 key takeaways
How to involve stakeholders in UX research—a session recap from Rosenfeld’s Advancing Research 2022 conference. Lizzy Burnam 03/16

7 questions to ask your research suppliers
If you have been able to clearly define your needs and found a good range of experienced suppliers and they have all come back to you with excellent credentials and competitive pricing then what should you do next? Here are some questions for you to consider to help find you the right partner. 03/16

Discovery research & insight hunt
What do you do when your product team switches to working on a totally new suite of products for a user type you’re not familiar with? Discovery research might be your answer. Hershko 03/21

Fusing separate research teams’ roadmaps to enhance collaboration, efficiencies, and insight quality
To align on future work, researchers can lead recurring, structured discussions around their pooled roadmaps. They can identify any duplication as well as opportunities to work together, driving more predictable streams of impactful insights for product people to use. Jake Burghardt 03/21

📚 Personal growth.

People success tips for UX research managers
A research manager is more than an expert in their craft. They also must know how to manage people in a thoughtful way. Janelle Ward

Top communities to follow for UX research
Helpful UX Research communities from you to connect and learn from your peers. Anna Lee Anda 03/17

Common UX research job interview questions & how to answer them
Impress your interviewer with thoughtful answers to the most common interview questions for user research roles. Lizzy Burnam 03/16

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🎥Videos of the Week.

An interview with Debbie Levitt
Debbie Levitt pulls no punches as she dismantles bizarre UX job descriptions 🦄, over-promising UX boot camps 🍯, and UX practices that she believes are unknowingly sabotaging the discipline 💣. YouTube 03/21

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🔉Audio of the Week.

From marketing lead at Facebook to UX Researcher
Vidhya Ravi, UX research team lead at cash app with over 14 years of experience in strategy, research and marketing, shares with us how to reposition your background, rebrand yourself, and overcome major difficulties when transitioning to UXR. Spotify 03/21

Happy Researching,
🗞 Jan