Flex your research skills, proclaim & protect: 3 take aways from UXRConf2022

Thereasa Roy
June 14, 2022
Flex your research skills, proclaim & protect: 3 take aways from UXRConf2022

Last week we sponsored UXRConf 2022, a gathering of UX Researchers in Brooklyn. This is the first time in a few years that they’ve been able to host this event in person, and it was such a lovely way to spend two days. Speakers from Slack, Headspace Health, Highspot, Opendoor, Nubank, HmntyCntrd, Toast, Spotify, Rockwell Automation, Coinbase, Novaelis, Lyft, Loblaw Digital, and Turning Basin Labs covered topics from UXR valuation to career growth, inclusion strategies and methods for improved research processes. 

Throughout these sessions, I was reminded that conferences like the one hosted by Learners are such an important part of the growth in this field. With very few formal UX Research academic programs, learning from each other is how this field has progressed as quickly as it has. 

There are a few takeaways from this event I wanted to share with folks who might not have been able to attend:

UXR Return on equity

Use your research powers to illustrate the impact of UX Research. In Claudia Natasia’s presentation titled “The UXR Valuation Model,” she illustrated how calculating the return on equity of UXR requires a critical eye on the statement of income, balance sheets and closed lost deals. In her evaluation of closed lost deals, the most significant driver of ARR, or loss of ARR was the product. From there, she dug in to understand what about the product was missing. That’s where she focused the research work and found that Ease of Use was the largest driver of closed lost deals. By using her own researcher super power of “being curious” she was able to quantify the impact of the research projects. 

Some additional suggestions of “invisible losses” were support call costs or ease of use can be an easier way to illustrate the impact of UXR. The key is to find a single metric or a few and report on it month over month. Determine where there is the most opportunity in your organization (increase revenue or decrease costs) and focus your work on those areas. Then, illustrate the impact by measuring the change in revenue or liabilities based on the work of your team.

Career growth & mental health

One underlying theme across all of the presentations had to do with impact and how to quantify and share that impact to justify more resources or to build a clear career path. In Brandi Luedeman’s presentation on career growth, she reminded UX Researchers that if there’s not a clear path or expectations, people will fill in the blanks. As managers and IC’s it’s important to be clear about the expectations of the role and to check back in on that on a regular basis. If there are questions about growth opportunities, don’t ass-u-me the answers, ask the questions, just like you do with any research project. In her slides, you can see some great examples of self-assessment questions to guide career development.

Deirdre from Toast spoke about how a researcher's superpower of “empathy” can negatively impact a researcher's mental health, with researchers putting their own needs last on the list of considerations when doing our jobs. The three steps she recommended for helping each other in these situations were:

  • Noticing: be vigilant to yourself
  • Process: move through the feelings with journaling and intention diagraming
  • Detach: create space between work and your personal life

Research models for unique spaces

DIB, Growth, Web3: Three different presentations addressed how you can use research to impact internal and external audiences. My personal favorite was Alexandra & Ashley from Spotify that talked about how they used research methods to improve the diversity, inclusion, and belonging work at Spotify. The team created surveys to track the sentiment of employees and found a number of people with the right skills to create an impact. This “sharing” of the load helped balance the additional cognitive and emotional labor of this important work.

When looking at Growth models and Web3 audiences, there is little guidance and methods vary based on strategic goals. For Growth, Kakau and Carlos from Nubank, suggested using a growth funnel to focus their work (similar to a revenue funnel). They learned that delivering insights quickly was the most effective way to get strategic research embedded into the business unit.  For Web3 users, Georgia Rakusen illustrated the complexities of conducing research with people who prefer to remain anonymous. In addition, since the space is so new, there are very few researchers who have experience asking questions unique to this space. But, she’s got a ton of great resources in her twitter feed

In summary, our take-aways include: 

  1. Researchers have skills that extend to all corners of an organization: from diversity, inclusion and belonging work to supporting growth and new unique audiences.
  2. Proclaim & protect: As a newer role in many companies, it’s important to communicate the impact of research, put together the insights, share consistently and crunch the numbers, but make sure that you are also protecting the work of the researchers themselves. 

These first three themes are the first of many that we’ll be writing about in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to our other summaries by subscribing to our blog here

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