Design teams often treat research as an artifact, meticulously conducting and recording interviews and usability tests and then setting them aside and ignoring them when it’s time to work on the design. As a result, research becomes more of an item to check off on a list than an essential contributor to the work the designer produces.
This abandonment of user research is not always intentional. Designers, especially those working in an Agile environment, may simply lose track of research findings as they work to meet deadlines and fulfill sprint goals. Or the findings may be at odds with stakeholder requirements, leading designers to look past what they’ve heard from users in order to get sign-off from the project’s business sponsor. In many cases, the research team functions as a separate entity from the design team, and opportunities for the researcher to be the voice of the user in the design process are few. Findings may not be easily accessible to the designer, or the designer may not have the time to read through transcripts and listen to recordings or watch videos. Adding to that problem, there are currently very few tools to facilitate the easy and efficient sharing of research findings. The end result is that the new or redesigned product, website, or service that the designer has worked so hard on will have the same problem as whatever it’s replacing: it doesn’t adequately meet the user’s needs and goals.
Amy Silvers is part of a design team that is aware of the problem of ignored research findings and actively working to prevent it. The team makes sure that a researcher is embedded into every design project and participates in planning and reviewing each project’s work. They’ve also developed tools and tactics for quickly and effectively communicating research findings to all members of the team, including product managers and business stakeholders. One tool that has been key to these efforts is Mosaiq, an open source asset-management solution that was built in-house to help track, review, and share the customer interviews the team conducts and the findings from those interviews.
Amy explains how the team is working to ensure that research findings are considered throughout the design process and discusses in detail the tools the team uses to help with this. Amy concludes by sharing the successes the team has had since learning to listen more frequently and more carefully to their research.
Amy Silvers is a senior product designer and researcher at Nasdaq, where she plans, conducts, and distills findings from customer interviews. She has more than 10 years of experience as a designer and has worked for at least a zillion companies. Amy has a master’s in library science and is happiest when doing IA work. She lives in the New York City area and is easily recognized due to the large amount of cat hair on her clothing.
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