As a User Researcher, I find describing my job can be tricky. If I only said ‘research’, you may think I am a scientist … long white coats, laboratories and microscopes.

In fact, I do research people but it’s in a different way. I observe people’s behaviour in controlled conditions and how they use a product or service.

The end goal is to create products and services that people want to use

Research makes design better, which is why it’s usually conducted at the start of a project. You can pick between quantitative research (numerical data that can be measured and analysed) or qualitative research (how people think and feel). These help you gauge responses to a given product or service.

The power of User Research

Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com in 1994. Books were the only product available to purchase. Yet Bezos wanted Amazon.com to be more than just a retail website. He wanted to create an online community. A feature was added that enabled readers to add their own book reviews for all customers to view. This turned into customers feeding back what they wanted to purchase off Amazon.com, which the team developed and delivered. And look where they are now!

This is exactly why we do User Research at the NHSBSA. Reporting back findings to the respective team is invaluable. It guides what they build and when they build it.

 

So, rather than me explaining how great we are and why you should go and observe a session with a User Researcher, I thought I’d leave it to my team at NHS Jobs to convince you…

Sarah and team

First up we have Jen Prince, our NHS recruitment subject matter expert…

“I find it really beneficial to hear how others within the NHS feel about the NHS Jobs website and what their experiences have been. Sometimes the feedback is expected, but others have surprised me.

“Our objective is to improve NHS Jobs to help make recruitment into the NHS much easier. If we keep users at the forefront of what we’re doing, we’ll ultimately deliver something that works well for the majority, if not all of those using the system.

“Attending user research sessions is so important. It keeps me and my team focused on the wider user experience, not just my area.”

Next up is Scott Smith who joined the NHS Jobs team in May as a UX Designer…

“Being involved in user research sessions and hearing genuine comments about the prototypes I’ve made is not just insightful, it’s critical to improving as a designer.

“You make design assumptions in good faith to fulfill a known user need. Through some user research sessions, you can go on to find those good intentions can completely miss the mark.

“A designer can have the best intentions to create a great experience, but if the solution doesn’t solve a problem, then the solution fails. This highlights the importance of user research.”

What does this mean for our Delivery Manager, Dave Hudson?

“Getting a ‘real’ end user to validate our assumptions is great. But what’s more important is when they don’t. It forces us to see things from their perspective and ensures we don’t build our product in a bubble.

“Whilst you can guess what people want, you never truly know until you perform this kind of testing.”

 And finally, our newest team member and Project Support, Ross Aitken shares his view…

“Sitting in the user research sessions has allowed me to understand the real purpose of our project. Physically seeing a user move through the journey allowed me to see pain points of the process but more importantly, it gave me the drive to ensure we fix them and deliver something of value.

“I’m proud to say that I’m developing something that’ll make life as easy as possible for those who want to work for the NHS.”

 

I hope that after reading all of this, you’re a little more convinced about the value of observing a research session, even if research isn’t your day job!

If our team hasn’t convinced you, I find some biscuits or treats during a session usually sweetens the deal…

If you’ve got any questions, please email sarah.stokes10@nhs.net.

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