Evangelizing a UX Research Strategy
NYC & Company, Summer 2018
When I was first started at NYC & Company I was the first UX Research specialist hired in the organization's history. I was brought on to craft the first UX Research strategy that would be used to enhance the existing product design process.
By developing this strategy it ensured that our UX team upheld the best industry standards and practices in both UXR and UX design processes, to ultimately further the mission of NYC & Company.
It was an opportunity to bring user voices and objectivity into the product design process.
"To many people, conducting user research is a bit like cleaning up the garage: they know it would be a good thing to do and would bring some real benefits, yet somehow they never quite get around to it."
Arin Bhowmick, Chief Design Officer, IBM
NYCgo User Experience Research Strategy
Setting the Stage
A goal of UXR is to translate user goals and behaviors into designs. A designated UXR strategy would allow our team to test and validate our assumptions for the various types of UX design tasks we encounter.
I developed a set of guiding principles for the UX research team. These were things we value most when thinking about our place within the larger organization.
UXR results must arrive in a timely manner for them to be useful to product design and development.
UXR at NYC & Company will uphold the scientific standards for research by producing high quality, empirical evidence using methods that are carefully selected for each individual project.
The UX team’s primary objective is to translate user research observations and findings into actionable insights that can inform design decisions.
The UX team strives to be approachable and open to UXR related ideas and suggestions from members throughout the organization.
Phases of the NYCgo UX Research Process
Discovery + Problem Identification
This phase is a time to discover how to best design a product. Engaging in discovery research allows us to begin prototyping knowing that our initial design decisions are made with consideration of: (i) primary user needs, and (ii) the existing practices in the marketplace.
The prototype testing phase is a time to investigate how users experience initial design prototypes before we spend significant time building them. Prototype testing early is essential for catching major design problems before we are far along in the design process, as iterating designs becomes more time consuming and costly over time.
Live Product Testing
Once we have incorporated the findings from Phase 2 into our designs we send the updates screens to InVision for development. Once the experience has been built and is launched/live on the website we will test to determine if there are still pain points or disruptions in user flow that need to be addressed post product launch.
The UX team can use data analytics tools to learn how users are interacting with a product once it is live on NYCgo.com. Valuable information can be derived from these data collection methods, and in some cases the insights from behavioral analytics may inform design changes. A few of the many possible questions we can answer from iteration analysis (post launch data collection) are:
How users are flowing through a product?
What elements are users engaging with the most?
Where do users experience frustrations with the product?
In the final section of the UX Research Strategy I included a proposed research schedule where I outlined the methods we would select for each phase of the process. The implementation section also included:
UXR Tools (Software) Budget
Research Participant Compensation Budget
Plan for integration of UX Research into product development meetings
Guidelines to hold the UX team accountable for evangelizing this strategy
When a company dedicates the time to understanding its users throughout the Product Design process, the resulting products perform better at launch because they have been tested and validated with users beforehand. This saves a product development team a significant amount of time and money in the long run, as iterating becomes more costly throughout the product design process.
The UXR strategy I created for NYCgo represents a preliminary foundation for how our UX team would like implement UXR going forward. NYCgo is not a typical digital product, so a lot of care and thought was put into creating a strategy that would produce the most useful UXR insights for this organization specifically.
This project was an excellent experience for me to create a research strategy from scratch, and it is my legacy I will leave at NYCgo for future experience design researchers.