Out of the Office

Breaking into User Research

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A friend of mine who works for a startup – Hot5 – hired a PhD in Social Psychology to run some usability studies for their app. As a contractor, she was really enjoying the field of user research and wondering how to take the next step.  She had experience in other industries doing surveys and focus groups but little else.

Here’s the advice I gave her to get hired:

  1. Get Variety. Work to build a diverse portfolio. Build personas for the startup. Run a card sort study. Do some field research. Do a competitive analysis.
  2. Synthesize. Package up the usability work to show what recommendations came from it and how it improved the product.
  3. Learn. Get a book on user research methods to see how they fit with product design (Understanding Your Users or Kim Goodwin’s Designing for the Digital Age are good surveys of research methods).
  4. Network. Sign up for the BAYCHI jobs mailing list, attend some meetups with UX professionals.
  5. Talk. Good researchers need to be great communicators. Most companies will have you present your portfolio as part of the interview process.  It’s a test of how well you can explain what you did, why and what the benefit was.

What other advice would you give?

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