Dont Be A UX Research Snob


Don’t Be a UX Research Snob Believing There is Only One Way To Do Research

Please don’t be a UX research snob. What is a UX research snob? It is anyone who believes there is only one right way to conduct UX research.

Watch this brief 5 minute Don’t Be a UX Research Snob video to learn how YOU can avoid being a UX research snob!

UX Research Snobs

Sadly, I’ve come across a few UX research snobs and I wanted to explain why this mentality is such a HUGE mistake. I also offer some tips on ways to make sure you don’t accidentally become a UX research snob. This brief 5 minute video is all you need to learn what a UX research snob is, and how to make sure you don’t become one!

There are many UX research tools out there, and knowing what they do, and when it is appropriate to use them to help answer your questions ensures you won’t become a UX research snob.

Example Snob Thinking

Here’s a few examples of UX research Snob thinking I’ve come across.

“It’s the Lab Way or the Highway”

I’ve come across some UX research practitioners who feel the only right way to conduct UX research or usability testing is in a lab. They argue that the reason you must use a lab is to eliminate as much bias as possible from the research results.

Here’s my problem with that. What about a lab is even close to conducting user research with actual people, using their actual devices, in an environment where they typically would interact with the website or app?

Let’s face it, to use a lab you have to recruit people for the study. They have to stop doing what they are doing, travel to the lab, sit in a foreign environment where they know they are being watched and interact with a website or app with what may not even be their typical device! They then get compensated for their time. Side note: Would they even participate if the offer of money or other incentives wasn’t there? Hmmm?

What the hell is non-biased about that?

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SOMETIMES it makes sense to conduct UX research in a lab. But SOMETIMES it’s actually BETTER to go out into the real world, find people who match your Persona, and observe them using your website or app in THEIR environment, using THEIR devices, and being happy to do so for maybe a very small thank you item like an Amazon or Starbucks gift card.

Where could you find these magical test participants?

How about your local book store, or Starbucks, or other coffee shop or quaint cafe?

So hey any Lab UX research snobs out there, don’t be afraid to get out of your lab, go into the field and conduct some Guerrilla UX Research. You just may find that it removes all the bias that happens when people are studied in a strange lab environment.

“Remote Unmoderated Tools Are Evil”

Sadly, I’ve come across otherwise sane UX practitioners who insist that remote unmoderated usability testing services like UserTesting, TryMyUI or related tools are to be avoided at all costs. Their rationale is that there are only PROFESSIONAL testers at these services and therefore results are biased.

These UX research snobs insist that the only way to conduct proper UX research is to conduct your own remote or in person moderated testing, and never use remote unmoderated tools.

Really??? Are you f***ing kidding me???

Here’s my problem with that.

To conduct moderated testing you have to:

  • Recruit participants
  • Schedule them
  • Connect with them to conduct the test
  • Conduct the test and (typically) record the session
  • Compensate them for their time

Here’s what remote unmoderated services do:

  • Recruit participants
  • Schedule them
  • Connect with them to conduct the test
  • Conduct the test and (typically) record the session
  • Compensate them for their time

The ONLY difference between the two is the fact that with moderated you can probe and follow up as you’re conducting the testing. But guess what, a good remote unmoderated protocol can accomplish task-based scenarios and offer follow-up questions at the end to get you a lot of that information. Plus, most services offer you the ability to reach out to the test participant and ask specific, follow-up questions.

Another key aspect of remote unmoderated that UX snobs don’t consider is the excellent customer service offered by these services. If you do have a participant who perhaps doesn’t match the persona, or who is just going through the task motions without really being involved you DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT TEST.

For me, on the rare instances that happens, 100 percent of the time I’ve contacted customer service and they have ALWAYS replaced that test with a new one for NO CHARGE.

In my opinion, It’s the researcher who doesn’t know how to use these services that’s the actual issue, not the services themselves.

There are times when remote or in-person moderated testing can and should be used. But there are JUST AS MANY TIMES when the much faster, lower cost and MUCH MORE SCALABLE remote unmoderated testing services can and should be used.

Got it unmoderated UX Research snobs?

Nuf said!

There are other types of UX Research snobs I’ve come across, but to keep this post short let’s move on.

Don’t Be a UX Research Snob

Please don’t be a UX research snob! Instead, please remember that there are a variety of great UX research tools available that can help answer specific questions and provide useful data.

Be open to trying new research testing methods like Guerrilla UX testing which I discuss at SXSW 2017, and don’t be afraid if you feel a bit awkward the first time you try them. That feeling will quickly pass as you get more experience and practice.

The reality is, UX research is a dynamic environment with lots of tools that can help you gather important data. Being close-minded to that fact is the most dangerous mentality of all.

Thanks for allowing me to rant!

Watch the Don’t Be a UX Research Snob video