UX groups traditionally have design and research teams. I am currently building a new UX group at WeWork. Although I am a researcher at heart and have been practicing it in the past 16 years, this group will not have a research team. Here’s why:
- Research is a design practice. Separating between research and design into different reporting structures creates a wall between two roles that so naturally connect with one another. Research leads to design, design triggers research. Our researchers are embedded in four user journey teams, and help team members and other stakeholders fall in love with problems and evaluate solutions.
- Everyone does research. Research is never relegated to researchers. It’s not their problem, their task. Everyone owns research, so everyone is deeply involved in it. Design researchers at WeWork UX are facilitators and mentors. They make it happen and help everyone else learn from research.
- Research is about creating shared understanding. Different people in the team have different assumptions and sometimes data about users, their needs, and behaviors. If researchers are isolated, they are just one more data point. Therefore, our researchers are big thinkers with small egos. They slowly created a shared understanding among team members and make sure every piece of the puzzle adds up to the full picture.
I’m glad we all agree then. Credit: User Story Mapping, by Jeff Patton (O’Reilly, 2014).
That said, we will have various mechanism to make sure our research is consistent, of high quality, and improving. Stay tuned.