This spotlight was part of USERWEEKLY - a weekly email to understand what is happening in user research. It's the best way to keep up on trends, methodologies, insights across the industry, and meet new researchers. Each week, the newsletter captures the pulse of our community and answers a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?
Hi Sofia, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Sofia Linse, 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!
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