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Earlier this week, we decided to remove our UX researcher from the Scrum teams she was in. The primary reason was that the main person in charge of research (me!) is working with three teams; the Magazine, the Shopping, and Mobile team. Joining the Scrum meetings of all teams is time consuming and unnecessary, unless we are working directly together on a feature.
This will also free up time for improving the quality of the research. Which brings me to the point of this post: Having time to reflect on my experience in research so far, I’ve come up with 3 commandments that we will apply to UX research from now on:

1- We don’t do unplanned research, and we don’t ask unstudied questions. Research is there to help us inform design decisions (example: Does the text need to be highlighted? Should there be a time stamp?) Therefore, we need to plan the research at least 2 days ahead of time, to design better questions and recruit participants.

2- Research should not answer “Like/hate” questions. People constantly engage in things they claim to hate. Instead, research should focus on gathering useful insights.

3- The researcher does not work in isolation. Research should be conducted in tandem with a designer, developer, or product owner from the team. Because A) the interview partner allows the researcher to focus on what the user is saying (or not saying) and to let the conversation flow naturally, rather than running through a list of questions, half-writing, half-listening. And without that focus, the researcher is likely to miss out on some really valuable stuff. B) People who have a hand in collecting the insights will look for opportunities to apply them.

We have a responsibility to the people we’re designing for, and this starts with asking better questions. Then listening, really listening, to those who give us their time and feedback.

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