Our Thinking
Insights into User Research
31 October 2017 | Posted by Jon Settle

User Research is a specialism in the industry that is sometimes a little unknown to many. Read on for our Q&A with a User Researcher to find out more about what the role consists of, the challenges and benefits of working in this area of Design.

What attracted you to the Role of User Researcher?

There are so many flawed products and services that we interact with in everyday life. Some have such basic flaws that it’s hard to believe that they ever got released. Many of these could have been avoided by involving the user in the design process, and that’s where I come in. The role allows me to help steer the ship in the right direction and steady it as it goes. It’s a privileged position to be in.

Can you outline some of the rewarding and more challenging aspects of the role?

The rewards and challenges are very closely linked for me. The big challenge is getting stakeholders to realise the value of user research and allow the time and space to do meaningful upfront work. Once you’ve been out in the field gathering insight and evidence, talking to real people, it feels good to come back and tell that story, and give those real people a voice within a large organisation. When you present this story to your stakeholder and it becomes more real – that’s the rewarding part.

How did you get into User Research?

After completing an MA in Human Computer Interaction, I started working as a User Experience Practitioner. I got to try lots of different things in my time there and quickly learned that my passion and skills were with research rather than creative design.

How has Kainos supported you on your journey so far?

Working in Kainos has helped me to continue honing my skillset, empowering me as an expert by giving me the peer and management support to try new things and take ownership of the work I do. There was a new and exciting research conference this year (User Research London) that Kainos happily allowed me to take a training day for and paid for my ticket, giving me the chance to keep on top of what my peers in the industry are up to.

What made you choose Kainos over competitors?

I was impressed by the breakdown of roles in the team that I was applying to, allowing people to be specialised individually, but within a group that has a diverse skillset. I’d spent most of my career working with private sector clients in various industries and I’d been keen to do some work for government. Kainos is well placed for this, and I’d encourage anyone who is looking for something similar to investigate!

Finally, can you share a highlight of your User Research career at Kainos so far?

As part of my work on a project for DVSA, I’ve spent a lot of time going out to visit garages around the country. I think it’s very important as a researcher to not get too comfortable sitting in your lab environment and forget some of the challenges of field work. The variable conditions of having internet access to show prototypes, space to lay out paper prototypes, or even perhaps somewhere to sit really means you have to think on your feet (sometimes quite literally!).

Want to know more about UR&D Careers in Kainos? Visit our careers site. 

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