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Researcher Spotlight: A Day in the Life of a UXR

Updated: Mar 11

Curiosity in Action: Demystifying User Experience Research with Benjamin Mauve - PART 2

Photo of Benjamin Mauve UX Rearcher doing planning on a board

In this second part of our insightful interview, seasoned expert Benjamin Mauve shares his wealth of knowledge, honed over years of experience.

  • Explore how UXR transcends industries, the importance of research ethics, and the secrets of collaborative design processes.

  • Discover the adaptability and ever-evolving nature of User Experience Research

  • Get inspired by Benjamin's passion as he offers invaluable advice for aspiring UX professionals and emphasizes the power of a curious mindset.

A: Do you think there is any industry that doesn't need UX researchers?

B: I would say no, but in the sense that maybe some industries need less UX research. But I believe that research is interesting to pursue in any industry. It's about asking yourself "Are we doing it right?", "Are we still in touch with our users?". And as society evolves, the needs of our users evolve as well.

A: Do you think that there could ever be a market saturation when it comes to UX research?

B: That's one thing that a lot of people don't know about. It's not just about collecting endless streams of data, it's also about making sense of the data that we already have. There will always be more data, but do we really need it right now? Sometimes we need to stop and just focus on what is.

A: I'd like to bring in the subject of UXR ethics. Have you ever worked on a project that required you to bend the rules? To do something considered unethical?

B: No. I've been lucky that way. I'm sure there are projects out there that are looking to manipulate the data for maximum profit, but I've been lucky enough not to have been part of something like that. I make sure to tell all of my collaborators that I'm there to represent the voice of the user. I bring their struggles to the table so that we can design a better experience for different types of users.

Quote about user experience and icon of data analysis magnifying glass

A: Ok, exactly, how you use the available data and what insights you manage to pull from all that data is really important when you want to improve the user's experience. What could leadership do better to integrate UX research insights into their business model?

B: The best thing that C-level executives can do is cultivate a research mindset: constantly asking questions. Is our product or service desired by our users? Is it viable for the business? Is it feasible technology-wise? When you overlap these three main themes, does it actually work?

A: Let me put the focus back on you for a little bit. What does a work day, or a work week look like for you, Benjamin?

B: Every project is different and due to this, the need for personalisation is high up there. Things also change depending on who you work with and for what company. First we get together with all the stakeholders and define the scope of the project. We think through what the best ways of collecting and analysing the data.

Then we start interviews with participants and in order to avoid biassed conclusions, we try not to make sense of the data too soon. Then we sit together as a team and everyone brings their own experience and perspective. We make sense of the data together. So it's really a very collaborative and sustained team effort. After this, we enter the design phase and we ideate together, we create a prototype that we then test with actual users.

Quote on user experience research and icon of a scale with heart and brain

A: This sounds like you're doing a proper design sprint.

B: Yeah, we're there from the ground up, informing ideation, design, creation, and iterating every version to push it forward.

A: How much time would you say you spend on any given project?

B: There's no silver bullet. If there were then we'd probably have better luck at selling UXR, you know? It's tricky, every company wants to save money and the general impression is that there's a standard way of doing UX research. But, in fact, there's a lot of customisation client to client.

A: Tell me a little bit about what it's like to start up a project with a new client. What's the first thing you do?

B: The first thing is having a conversation. Figuring out why they need a UX researcher, what are the expectations for this collaboration? Defining the scope of the project.

A: Have you ever worked on a very difficult project? One where you felt like quitting repeatedly?

B: There was one experience that I remember. I couldn't wait for it to be over. But I didn't quit. I have an issue with lack of involvement on the part of the client. This is because some people believe that as a UX researcher you just show up at the end with this magic solution. What they don't understand is that this role needs to be supported by the team, by various stakeholders, and is never a standalone role.

Quote about user experience research from Senior UX Researcher and icon of leadership winning

A: There is one question I am really excited to learn the answer to: what advice would you give someone that's just starting out as a UX researcher?

B: My best advice for people just starting out in UXR is to develop a network. This is a booming profession right now and there's lots of motivated and passionate researchers out there that can feel isolated and lonely. This is also due to the fact that a lot of the times we are the only UXR in our company. We need to remember that we are a growing community and we can leverage this to learn, become better at what we do, teach others, and so on.

A: That is lovely advice, staying connected. In the spirit of teaching others, what are the top three tools that you use and would recommend to a newbie UXR?

B: I love to use MIRO. It's a great collaborative tool and so intuitive. You can take notes, do data analysis, do data synthesis, reporting, brainstorms. It's so flexible and great for communicating live as well. Next I would suggest using the free tools in the Google Suite. More precisely, Google Docs, Google Slides.

These are also great for collaboration, a whole team can have access at the same time and give their input. Last but not least, ChatGPT of course. It is a truly revolutionary tool, not just for UXRs, but for the world. I use it to boost a lot of menial tasks: develop a research proposal, a research plan, a discussion guide; it can help me to better phrase some insights, bring a new perspective to data analysis, it's truly like another brain you can bounce ideas off.

A: Yes, like a virtual assistant. It can enhance human intelligence. 

B: Exactly. Every time I use ChatGPT I think of IronMan chatting to his AI Jarvis. I'm not just asking a question and getting an answer, we're having an actual conversation.

Quote about user experience research from a Senior UX Researcher and icon of medal with white star

A: Any last insights about being an UX researcher in today's fast changing work environments?

B: Stay curious. We all come from different backgrounds, disciplines, just stay curious and try to connect things that you wouldn't otherwise think to connect. Read a psychology book, look into social sciences, behavioural economics, and find out what tools other researchers use and test stuff out all the time. Look to grow and learn and definitely develop a curious mindset. Then you can really make a difference for your clients and even for yourself.

A: I've really enjoyed this interview Benjamin. Thank you for taking the time, I've learned a lot.

B: Of course. It was very lovely to have this chat with you, so feel free to drop me a line if you missed some information, or if something was not clear, I'll be happy to be available again to talk.

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