Democratizing UX research: two real-life examples

Thereasa Roy
March 11, 2022
Democratizing UX research: two real-life examples

This past week we were lucky enough to speak with two of our customers about how they’ve democratized research at their organizations.

Nicole Wright is a Senior UX Researcher at Honeybook and Brad Orego is the Head of Research at Auth0. Both are really passionate about democratizing research as a way to keep their customers at the center of all their work.

During both of these conversations, we heard similar suggestions, so we wanted to get them into some tactical steps you can bring to your organization.

What we love most is that both Brad and Nicole believe that empowering other people do good research doesn’t lessen their power or impact, it just brings their entire organization closer to their customers, and that’s their guiding principle as UX researchers.

6 tips for democratizing UX research at your organization:

1. Just start

Nicole talked about how she started by asking people how they were doing research. She wasn’t worried that the methods weren’t perfect or the results weren’t analyzed using best practices, she just wanted to figure out how people were doing research and dig into what gaps they still had in that process. By doing research into the existing research she uncovered the opportunity. 

Brad mentioned that he started by picking the Environment pillar from the 8 pillars of User Research as defined in the Re+Ops community. He knew he needed to teach people who do research (PWDR’s) research basics, so he started by teaching.

In both of these cases, these passionate researchers, used their own research skills to uncover what would get them a quick win within their specific organizations.

2. Start by sharing

Sharing came up in both sessions as an important part of the work they do. At Honeybook, the research team speaks to the entire company on a monthly basis about the research that’s happened, insights uncovered and upcoming research. This is in addition to the regular sharing that happens automatically via their Slack integration, so anyone can join a research call with a customer.  

At Auth0 the research team holds monthly research method training sessions to educate others on how do to great research. Being open to sharing customer insights or research methodology insights have built the credibility of these research teams and made them more accessible to more teams.

3. Build cross-functional teams

One of our favorite learnings from Brad’s session was the CIA (customer intelligence alliance) a group of key stakeholders from product, product marketing, design, and data science. These folks meet regularly to prioritize research requests that come in from teams across the organization. Getting buy-in and involving folks from the beginning is a great way to build rapport and empower more folks to do research.

Nicole has been a consensus builder at Honeybook from the start, having been a customer, people were keen to understand her experience as a customer and she used that opportunity to understand where research was already happening and then she identified key people who cared about and could do customer research. She now has a taxonomy team of cross functional leaders from: support, UX research, design and customer success that are constantly adjusting and improving to keep control over how research is conducted. 

4. Make it easy to find

As Brad and Nicole both suggested, just starting small can be a huge win, but second to that, making research easy for anyone to access is a really important part of democratization. From including research calls in new hire training courses to Slack integrations and be accessible. Make it easy for people to ask their great question and find an answer that might already exist. You can do that with an easy to filter research repository.

Brad said he likes to “nuggetize” research and share those nuggets out in their internal communication channels. But, the chunking of research into digestible bits makes it super accessible for PWDRs or people that benefit from hearing from customers. 

5. Start with a solid foundation and a vision for the future

Brad talked a lot about the value of the Re+Ops community in helping him build a solid foundation. He said he’s laying the tracks for the railroad before putting a train down with a specific direction, and he knows that with a solid foundation he’ll be able to build a fast-moving train knowing that people know how to access research, they’ve been trained or empowered to do great research and in turn, research is easier for the entire organization. 

6. Train & empower

Teaching was an important part of both of our customers' success. From monthly all-hands updates, to putting research into the new hire training materials, empowering people to find and do research is an important part of the UX Researcher role.  They’ve each seen success by training fellow groups and PWDR’s, and giving people templates to do great research.

We’re clearly super passionate about democratizing research and we’re so grateful to Brad and Nicole for sharing their stories and best practices. 

We believe that one of the best ways to democratize UX research across the organization is to empower PWDR with a tool that makes executing research easy, which is why we built Great Question.

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