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🗞 Navigating user research in the age of AI

Jan Ahrend
Jan Ahrend
5 min read
💡 This week, I had a great chat with Nina Farkache, UX Research Lead at monday.com. We talked about her impressive career journey, her goals for breaking organizational silos with cross-company strategic research, and a lesson learned from a recent research mishap. If you're curious about how to scale UX research teams or interested in responsible research democratization, Nina's insights are invaluable.

🗞 In this newsletter, dive into key topics like integrating mixed methods in UX research, the value of reporting small sample sizes, and the potential of AI in user research. Discover advice from 9 UX experts on screener questions and explore a crash course in strategic product research. Plus, get inspired by Sophia Omarji's story on navigating life after layoffs at Spotify. Enjoy!

Happy Researching, Jan 🙌

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😌 Humans of User Research with Nina Farkache

Nina Farkache
Nina Farkache

Hi Nina, tell us a little about yourself!
Hello, I'm Nina Farkache, a Lead User Experience Researcher at monday.com (a platform that supports and streamlines work and project management) with over 20 years of global experience in user and trends research. My journey began at IDEO as a designer after graduating with a degree in industrial design from the Netherlands.

This exposure to human-centered research sparked a passion that has directed my career ever since. Before joining monday.com I ran my own research consultancy, conducted research across various industries and for the past decade, I’ve been teaching ‘Design Research’ in the Design Management Master’s program at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. I love mentoring and helping individuals deepen their Design research and UX research knowledge.

What’s a professional goal you aim to achieve in the coming year
In many product companies, researchers are embedded in a product space that consists of multiple teams. They prioritize research questions within this product space and support research activities for this particular group. This structure may lead to each product group working in a silo on research that is only related to them and may prevent addressing cross-company strategic challenges that relate to multiple product spaces. This year I aim to challenge this approach. I recently initiated a cross-company strategic research program that will cut across multiple product spaces and break the organizational silos. I aim to lead research that will focus on complex business questions and influence long-term product vision and decisions relevant to the whole company. The outcomes of this type of research will break silos and affect multiple teams and will create a unified understanding of our customer base.

Share a valuable lesson you learned from a research mishap
I recently learned a valuable lesson from a research mishap while planning in-context interviews for our mobile app group's Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) research. The trip was unexpectedly canceled after extensive preparation, which was initially frustrating. However, I embraced this setback as an opportunity to innovate. We shifted to a three-phase remote approach: first, a diary study where participants recorded their mobile usage on a Miro board; second, a remote workshop with deep dives into key JTBD; and third, a survey to identify and validate the most critical jobs. This revised method not only yielded the insights we needed but also fostered a unified, human-centric language within the team, influencing our strategic roadmap. This experience reinforced the value of viewing mishaps as catalysts for creative solutions rather than setbacks.

What can people reach out to you about and how can they find you
I love sharing and chatting with other researchers across the world on various topics. Current topics that I am busy with are UXR team structure and the way they operate within organizations, best practices for a healthy scale of UXR team, responsible democratizing of research, AI-aided research, JTBD research using past and future interviews and leading an effective cross-company research. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m there often!

Thank you, Nina!


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📚 Articles of the Week.

Integrating mixed methods in UX research: building a resilient and diverse team
Mixed methods in UX research enhance understanding by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. Key insights: triangulate data, validate with multiple sources, and capture diverse user perspectives. Naning Utoyo 05/15

What makes a great research operations pro?
I love personality tests — especially ones that focus on how I interact and can excel in work environments. Mia Mishek 05/14

Emerging applications for user research?
What are emerging areas for applying user research that you are excited about? In this video, I share a bit about what’s been interesting to me of late. What about you?. Steve Portigal 05/06

Navigating user research in the age of AI
Embracing the Potential of AI while Preserving the Human-Centric Approach in User Research. Hye Yoon & Lynn Wee 05/15

You can report percentages with small samples, but should you?
Explores the validity of reporting numbers from small sample sizes in UX research. Key insights: use raw numbers, fractions, or percentages to present data; consider ease of interpretation when choosing the format. Jeff Sauro & Jim Lewis 05/14

How Vodafone’s custom scoring system clarified outcomes
In a complex give and take between product design, UX, and research, Vodafone’s team created a custom scoring process that made every step from discovery to validation ring clear. Kris Kopac 05/14

Screener Questions: Advice From 9 UX Experts
Tap into the collective wisdom of 9 seasoned UX experts, who share specific strategies for developing screener questions that go beyond mere demographic sorting. Daria Krasovskaya 05/02

Life after Spotify: what no one tells you about life after layoffs
n December 2023, I was part of the 17% impacted by the layoffs at Spotify as a User Researcher. Since then, I have been navigating the job market as a junior, alongside the uncertainties and turmoil caused by losing my job. Sophia Omarji 05/05

A crash course in strategic product research
Explores strategic product research and its distinction from discovery research. Key insights: avoid showing conceptual designs to users, use a tailored research framework, and support product strategy with specific tactics. Danielle Green 05/09


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🎥 Video of the Week.

Doing UX research with AI
Explores effective UX research and storytelling to engage audiences. Key insights: combine quantitative and qualitative methods, align research questions with goals, use AI tools, and craft compelling stories. YouTube 05/10


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🔉 Audio of the Week.

Growing Impactful UX Research Organisations
Monal Chokshi shares lessons from growing three UX research orgs and enhancing research impact. Key insights: understand management challenges, increase researcher influence, and effectively socialize insights to partners. Spotify Apple 05/13


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🗓 UserCalendar: Events Next Week.

[In-person] Navigating beyond the Evaluative Loop: The power of generative research
London, May 21 @ 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
Escape the Evaluative Loop with Generative Research. Learn how to break free from stagnation and foster innovation through impactful user-centric product development strategies.
Learn more