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6 People a UX Researcher Works With

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 13, 2014 11:52:00 AM / by Rachel Decker

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. 
UX Researchers and PMs live love laugh together
You work closely with PMs when you also live with them. (Not required) 

2. The Product Designer

product designerI have a special place in my heart for the designers at HubSpot, partly because they’re on the same team with me, and partly because they’re incredibly good looking. These folks are basically the artsy kids you knew in school that you wish you could draw like, but never could. Each designer on our team is attached to a specific product manager’s team at HubSpot. The product designers are the expert on their part of the product, and part of their job is to help you use the product without making you realize you’re using software. They do this by designing to make the user’s job less like a job and more like a pleasure. The designer and PM work closely together to decide on what’s being built, and the designer has free reign to make that screen or feature look and act as beautifully as possible. Often, the designer will be included in all of the meetings I have with the PM to decide what we are researching, or to provide the mockups we’ll be testing. My ideal process looks like this:
  • 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 

Copywriter helps all of product developmentThe copywriter is another core member of the UX team and therefore is near and dear to my heart. She’s the one who makes sure everything you write sounds like you graduated with a PhD in Writing Good. How do I work with her? Let me count the ways:

  • 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 

Devs + code + testing = <3Though the developer isn’t necessarily designing the product, they still genuinely care about the product and its usability. No one wants to build software that a user’s going to struggle with. For that reason, I always invite them to the testing with their PM and designer. They can decide for themselves how many sessions they want to attend. Even though I don’t work directly with developers (they work with their PMs to prioritize what’s built in what order), I still interact with them on an everyday basis. This usually involves:
  • 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

product marketerThe product marketer’s job is to position the feature and internally “sell” it to the rest of the company. We’ll talk often to make sure that our message is consistent to our customers and internal users, and to ensure that when we release things into beta, both our customers (on my end) and internal users (on her end) know about it. The product marketer and I will:
  • 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.

Topics: Usability Testing, ux, Software Development, UX Team

Rachel Decker

Written by Rachel Decker

Rachel is the UX Researcher at ezCater. Previously she spent 3 years as a Researcher at HubSpot with her UX Sister Molly. She loves making ice cream, riding her bike, and thinking about adopting a cat.