How to Make a Difference as a UXR Team of One

How to Make a Difference as a UXR Team of One
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How to Make a Difference as a UXR Team of One

As the importance of research has grown over the past decade, naturally so has the number of companies hiring their first researcher. That’s a great development, but being a UXR team of one comes with tremendous challenges.

When you’re a solo researcher, you have to do more with less. Here are some great talks from research leaders who can help you best leverage your time and gain the buy-in you need to hire a research buddy.


The Five Dysfunctions of a UXR Team of One (and How to Overcome Them)

1. The Five Dysfunctions of a UXR Team of One (and How to Overcome Them)

By Roy Opata Olende, Sr. Research Operations Program Manager @ Zapier

What it’s about: This talk is about the inherent dysfunctions you may feel stuck with as a team of one. But luckily, you’re not as alone as you might think! You can rely on the lessons Roy picked up that helped him remedy the dysfunctions he ran into.

What you’ll take away: In this practical talk, Roy will lay out the five obstacles preventing solo researchers from having a more significant impact:

  1. Strategic approach
  2. Business metrics
  3. Consistency in communication
  4. Isolation
  5. Task omissions

Plus, of course, how to overcome these obstacles!

About the creator: Roy has been involved in user research and service design for the past eight years. Before his current role at Zapier, he led UX Research at Buffer. That’s where he started to develop strategies as a UXR team of one.

When not working or hanging out with his wife and three young boys, he can be found obsessing over Arsenal, his favorite football (soccer) team. Roy hails from Kenya and currently resides just outside of Toronto.

Click here to watch.


A 30-60-90 Day Plan for Making an Impact with your New or Existing Research Practice

2. A 30-60-90 Day Plan for Making an Impact with your New or Existing Research Practice

By Snigdha Diehl, Research Lead @ HubSpot

What it’s about: Starting a user research practice in an organization can be an eye-opening experience—especially when you’re a UXR team of one. This talk is all about hitting the ground running with a plan that works.

What you’ll take away: In this talk, Snigdha presents a concrete 30-60-90 day plan for UX Researchers looking to make an impact. Her plan will cover:

  1. Ways to do work that matters
  2. The ability to score quick wins
  3. Advice for balancing long-term strategy with tactical work

About the creator: Snigdha is a researcher with over 10 years of experience in UX and cognitive neuroscience research. She founded the User Research practice at Bitly in NYC, and now leads research at HubSpot. Her impact as a UX Research team of one is rooted in listening with empathy, being adaptable, and forming effective partnerships with cross-functional teams that are new to research.

Click here to watch.


Pair it Forward: Finding & Fostering Champions for User Research

3. Pair it Forward: Finding & Fostering Champions for User Research

By Katie Hill, Design Research Lead @ Connected and Zachery Oman, Senior Product Manager @ TWG

What it’s about: This talk is about the concept of “research pairing”. With this approach, UX researchers focus and make use of the strengths of their cross-disciplinary team members. And when you’re a team of one, it’s especially powerful to make the most of your colleagues on other teams.

What you’ll take away: You’ll come away knowing how to “pair” with your teammates to everyone’s benefit. Katie and Zachery will also discuss the cascading benefits of this approach beyond improving your research output.

Here’s what you’ll be able to do with research pairing at a high level:

  1. Build honest relationships: Ego, ambiguity, and lack of trust can hamper collaboration and understanding. Katie and Zachery offer tools to build trusting working relationships.
  2. Divvy up responsibilities at each stage: UXRs and PMs can get overwhelmed and end up working in silos. Katie and Zachery offer a framework for dividing work evenly throughout the journey.
  3. Keep the big picture in mind: Katie and Zachery provide a framework for UXRs and PMs to collaborate on a big-picture plan, so they can take joint responsibility in the outcomes of their work.

About the creators: 

Katie is a senior researcher with the design team at Connected, a leading product development firm. As Connected’s first dedicated researcher, Katie has been instrumental in building the small but mighty design research practice in-house. In her spare time, Katie enjoys telling stories through mixed media, including podcasts and short films.

Zachery leads strategy at Aesthetic Dimension Group and is a product manager at TWG, where he works with clients to build and deliver on strategies for new products and services. Previously, Zachery has explored deathcare futures, launched mobile travel apps in China, and developed innovation and product strategies at both Idea Couture and Connected.

Katie and Zachery have also been kind enough to offer their Immersion Toolkit. They designed this resource to help product teams at their own company build new projects based on the following:

  1. The best available information and context
  2. Common ground among teammates
  3. Depth of knowledge in the product/problem space

Click here to watch.


Using Blueprint Fidelity to Focus Teams on Impactful Ideas

4. Using Blueprint Fidelity to Focus Teams on Impactful Ideas

By Kira Cassels + Kathryn Brookshier, UX Researchers @ Indeed.com

What it’s about: Researchers need to help teams reframe their thinking around figuring out what to build by getting buy-in for research at early stages of product development. As it stands today, it can be difficult for UX researchers to secure that buy-in. This talk is all about how to get that buy in using blueprint fidelity.

What you’ll take away: Being able to sell your work and gain influence can be especially difficult when you’re a team of one. In this talk, you’ll learn how to use blueprint fidelity to challenge common pushback you might get. You’ll also get a better understanding of the benefits of blueprint fidelity, including:

  • Giving your prototypes the polish of a finished product
  • Focusing teams on solving concrete problems
  • Helping your team understand which concepts have the most promise at early stages (before they get attached to an idea that has little potential)

About the creators:

Kathryn Brookshier is a UX Researcher at Indeed in Seattle, WA who incorporates quantitative and qualitative methods to drive product decisions that positively impact users. She is a Medium author, mentor in the Seattle chapter of Hexagon UX, and a board member of Puget Sound SIGCHI. Kathryn received her B.S. in Interaction Design from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and M.S. in Human-Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington.

Kira Cassels is a qualitative UX Researcher at Indeed.com, focusing on improving the job seeker experience. She is passionate about guiding and empowering teams to be inquisitive about their users, connect to their needs, and to develop solutions that work. Kira received her M.S. in Human Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington.

Click here to watch.


Thanks for reading! If you’re looking to really push your practice to the next level, check out 5 Stories From The Design and UX Research Frontiers.


    • Blueprint Fidelity
    • Team of One
    • UX Research
    • UXR Team of One

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