October 5, 2021
As global brands invest more in external UX research partners, we’ve found that to hit the mark on success, it is important to optimize resources to prevent research blunders such as not reaching the target audience, misrepresenting a project, missing the mark on user needs, and other missteps. How do you prevent that from happening, you ask?
In order to find your most compatible UX ally, think of them as if you were looking for your life partner or soulmate - let’s say you’re finding love through a dating app. When you're speed swiping through your preferred candidates, there are certainly qualities that quickly catch your eye as well as ones that raise flags of uncertainty. It’s not all about positives and negatives, though. At the end of the day, your UX partner isn’t your soulmate but the effort put into finding the most compatible and committed one to your brand will be rewarding in the long run. So, in short, we advise that you ask yourselves questions with the long term in mind: Do you share the same values? Do you look for the same thing in the long-run?
And don’t you worry, it is possible to find a user research partnership that won't break the bank but will break the glass ceiling blocking your ability and knowledge of how to enhance your user experience. Modern day love can be romantic and affordable! In order to help you swipe right on your new UX partner, we’ve collected this (unordered) list of items to consider that can help you navigate your search.
1. Aligned Long-Term Goals
While the goals of your own team may seem obvious, talking to your potential partners about them might be a bit more tricky. Setting definitive goals, milestones and checking in on progress regularly can help your potential partner understand the long-term goals and overarching themes of your project on a deeper level.
Whether it’s past experience, industry specialties, tech- and tool-savviness (Hey, we get it - some prefer to handwrite their notes rather than using an interactive chat room), or speaking the same language(s), what your potential partner brings to the table must be constructive towards your overarching brand strategy.
2. Level/Depth of Relationship
From a hands-on and joint approach with monthly check-ins and consultations to a more hands-off relationship that only requires a brand to present their problem and will receive a completed product or service by a specific deadline, there are many types of partnerships to develop with your research companion which are often adaptable toward your team’s expected goals.
Before jumping into a project with your UX colleague, ask your team and inquired partner what level of relationship you are both looking for and able to maintain. Whatever amount of hand-holding you decide is necessary for your brand, it should reflect the goals of your project and should be expressed clearly before committing to a long-term partner.
3. Shared Values
It pays off to know WHO you’re getting involved with before considering just WHAT they can offer you. Before even considering a partnership for a project, come to a level of understanding of your partners’ values. Initiating and navigating the more difficult conversations on values such as inclusivity, diversity, and equity can facilitate further transparency between your brand and considered allies and can be points of major differences and compatibility.
These values can reflect in how invested your partner is in you and your project or goal, their perspective and level of comprehension of your project, tasks, and brand, or in what your project is trying to communicate. Your user research partner’s values could influence how much you get out of your collaboration and research and reflect in the level of dedication and commitment shown towards your project.
4. Mutual Background/Connections
How well connected your potential UX partner is in your market can be an ode to experience or a window to future opportunities! Testimonials, presentations of past studies, and communication with clients can give you a sneak peek of their previous final products and services to see if they are along the lines of what your brand is looking for.
You can take a deeper dive into your potential partner’s portfolio to learn their perspective on industry-specific topics, their specialization of certain segments or subjects, skill set, and even values of the company. Further, being that we’re all about collaboration - it can also give insight into other potential resources and opportunities for joint cooperation in the future.
The Bottom Line
Be prepared to invest in your UX partner search to get your research right the first time. Be sure your partnership enhances your work to best connect, include and reach current or potential new users, and that your efforts aren’t just a box to tick off - nobody wants to waste their time, effort, and especially money on incompatible research (as is the case with dating).
It is possible to find a user research partnership that won't break the bank but will break the glass ceiling blocking your ability and knowledge of how to enhance your user experience. If there’s one thing we hope you take into your search for a UX partner, is this quote by researcher, author, and Founding Director of The Design Lab, Donald A. Norman, “A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem.”