Being a UX researcher isn’t a one-lady show. There’s no way we can do it alone. Even though there are only two of us at HubSpot, we work with many incredibly talented people throughout the process of helping to make a new piece of software more user friendly. But for now, let’s just cover the top six.
1. The Product Manager
The product manager, or PM, is the person in charge of a particular piece of the product. They have the vision for what they’re building, are responsible for the future of that product, and generally manage the day-to-day process of how that gets done. Having a close, preferably warm relationship with every PM is vital to the life of a UX researcher. You need to be kept in the loop so you can help the team understand what needs to be built before too much time’s been invested in it, and you can help the whole team plan the schedule and cadence of testing new software. As in any relationship, you need to be flexible. Each PM has their own working style and personality. The ideal process for me looks like this:
- Conduct weekly 15-30 minute catch-ups to understand what we’re both working on and plan out what we each want to learn this week
- Plan our testing schedule for the week, whether it’s background research, testing a mockup, or something else
- Perform the research together (I’ll always conduct it while they’re in the room, while encouraging them to ask questions and dig deeper when they want)
- Debrief each other after testing and agree on the key takeaways. I’ll then write up the results on our internal wiki.
- Iterate, build mockups, edit mockups, test again. Or, if we’re confident that we have enough information, move forward with building the software and send it into beta to gather more feedback.
2. The Product Designer
- Everything I said in the the Product Manager section. I’ll go through the same process with the designer as I do with the PM. The designer is absolutely the most integral person to involve during testing, since what we’re doing is testing their design. Because they work so closely with the PM, they’re always involved in testing and planning discussions.
3. The Copywriter
- Proofreading product copy. This includes things like microcopy and instructions. She makes sure the copy is clear, jargon-free, and fun (where appropriate). She applies the right voice and tone to our product copy, depending on the context and situation. I generally try to ensure that the designer has spoken with her early in the process, so that we can get great copy in our mockups so that when we’re testing concepts with users, we can test with as close as to what the final design would be. If it includes copy (and most software involves some words appearing on the screen, let’s face it), I want our copywriter to edit it!
- Editing customer facing communications. As a UX researcher, I often need to write to our customers to tell them about new features and to encourage them to join our usability testing process. When I’m feeling stuck with how best to do this -- for instance when I need help explaining something complicated or dry -- our copywriter is always there for me.
4. The Developer
- Inviting them to testing and encouraging them to speak directly with our users if they have any questions.
- Document any bugs or issues that exist in our beta software. They’ll fix ‘em and I’ll report the fix back to the customer base.
- Keep in touch with them so I stay abreast of what they’re working on.
5. The Product Marketer
- Collaborate in various ways on user testing so that they know what’s in development
- Share documentation and copy for internal and external emails
- Coordinate releases of beta software together
6. The User
And of course I can’t forget the most vital person to this whole process: the user! This is the person who is using the software and is the one who ends up dictating in which direction we ultimately go. The end user is the one I talk with the most, who gives me real feedback and spends the time using what we build to do their job. If the end user doesn’t use or understand something, it is our job to improve or remove that feature. None of the rest of the jobs matter without the end user. If there is no customer, who are you building for?
And there you have it! The 6 people I work with most often. Who do you work with? What other methods do you use to keep up with development? I have to give a shoutout to amazing HubSpot PM (and roommate) Angela DeFranco and her very similar blog post, from which I took this idea. Check it out in case you’re interested in learning more about being a Product Manager.