Making guidelines for how we do research
The goal of this work was for people across our organization understand why and how we do user research. On this project, I was a User Researcher at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).
RNID is an over 100 year old organization with a new digital focus. This new focus helped us begin to do user research with the people the charity supports.
As I grew our research practice and helped embed it across organizational strategies, we needed to do more research than ever before. So, I ran a discovery to understand how our practice needed to evolve or grow.
Among other insights, I learned that people across the organization were not sure what user research is, or in other cases, how we do it.
Having already run a discovery and learned from colleagues of different disciplines, I had identified gaps in RNID’s understanding of user research.
I recommended that I create a guide to help people:
- understand what user research is and isn’t
- understand my shifting role as a user researcher
- feel supported to do user research themselvest
The project was approved by the Associate Director of Digital and Innovation.
I drafted a guide on Miro, using existing diagrams and content from previous presentations I had given, as well as new material based on discovery findings.
I shared the guide with various colleagues and made changes as I received anonymous and direct feedback.
Then, to test the guide in context, I asked two designers to use it, who I has been training to run research studies. Instead of coming to me with questions, they used the guide to help them plan and do research tasks.
In particular, I worked closely with the designers who were testing the guide, to understand how they found it and what was missing.
To facilitate these reflections, I ran ‘debrief’ sessions after each research engagement where I asked them to describe things that went well and areas they were less confident. I synthesised these at the end of the study.
At the end of the study, I also ran a formal retrospective, where we discussed what went well and what we would change, and annotated the guide.
Through prototyping and testing, I created a 34-page, plain language guide: Do user research at RNID.
I shared the guide across the organization through Microsoft Teams, on the Intranet and by circulating to individual leaders.
Within the digital team, and people more closely connected to user research already, I presented the guide in a closed session with the team.
I continued to encourage people to share feedback directly or anonymously.
Learning about specific gaps in understanding and confidence, helped me build training materials that better meet people’s needs.
After the guide was shared widely across the organization, I received many messages or emails from different colleagues who were interested in my work.
Some people who were interested in working more closely together, others wanted to discuss how we could share the guide outside the charity, and a number of colleagues reached out because they wanted to start doing user research.