I do Research

Being at the airport always makes me think of airport themed videoclips. But this is not about that. It’s an introspective exercise about research. Might be relevant if you are a UX designer and all the flavours of that, can’t promise it will be relevant for anybody else.

I am the kind of researcher that learned on the job – I came to UX after taking a degree in Digital Arts where I explored how people create relationships with mass produced electronic devices such as toasters and vacuum cleaners.

I was curious about the trajectory of these objects, how they went from industrial to domestic, how they went from beast to personal size. How they were introduced as household items, how people welcomed them in their homes and most importantly how we have became emotionally attached to these things.

In the digital industry I could summarise it to “I am curious about adoption”, although I would prefer to say:

I am curious about how people connect to things, how they repurpose them to make them their own, how they find ways of hacking them so that they adapt to our homes and the changes in our lives. And (most importantly) how we can use this knowledge to work backwards and challenge what is being produced for us to adopt and how.


I believe this is particularly relevant when we start looking at “smart” or connected things. The IOT blah blah blah (massive eyeroll).

I am interested in exploring the spaces around what happens when these objects are with us at all times – we take them to the toilets with us, we sleep with them next to our beds, for a lot of us they are the first thing we touch in the morning, some hang in the kitchen shelf and hear our instructions, others are on our wrists at all times…

I am focusing on the stories these objects are going to be telling about us and in challenging the tech industry on that. #fightthepower

I digress. This is about research.

For me research is about  “what does it take for research to positively influence product and design, and how do I do that?” as very well put by Dave Hora. I want to be involved in projects where research is a foundation – I am sick and tired of having to convince people that doing research is a critical and non-optional part of a successful design process. Its the same as when techies used to tell you that they created a tool without any designers:


The questions I am grappling with right now, are on specialising and what is the level of mastery of research process and methods that I am after.

What can i do?

Plan & manage

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Why is this important and in what way will it allow the team to move forward?
  • How do we go about doing this (methods, times, budgets

Lead and influence

  • Impact – What is the outcome of all of this?
  • Process – creating a structure that combines research and design methods to create an iterative process
  • Team (this is a biggie):
    • embedding research in functional teams in an agile framework
    • making research a team sport
    • cross project effective research strategies

Actionable insight and connecting them to design

  • Synthesising research findings into useful artefacts to inform the team e.g. personas, journey flows, scenarios, needs, user stories etc
  • Evolve research hypothesis for continuous improvement
  • Develop a scalable process
  • Insight driven decision making – Influence product-level decisions

What do I want to do i the next 6 months?

  • formalise by experience and learning in a way that is clearly articulable and communicated simply
  • develop an understanding of a wider range of methods and what comes out of different research methods
  • draw on well-developed basics in new ways and adapt methods to the project at hand
  • Extend basic reporting to employ more robust/ comples methods of synthesis and communication


That’s all for now.



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