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Upskill with People Nerds: A Resource for Any Research Roadblock

Whatever you’re struggling with in your research practice—be it interpersonal, organizational, logistical, or methodological—we have a guide, workshop, or template for you. 

At People Nerds, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to uncertainties UXRs face—in regards to their career growth, people management tactics, and potential skill development. The list of “new things to learn” and “new tactics to adapt” seems to only grow longer as the field continues to change.

Luckily, researchers deal particularly well with uncertainties, with new learnings, and with adaptation.

Still, a little help never hurt. So we’ve compiled this bookmarkable guide to point you in the right direction when you’re stuck. No matter your research roadblock, we’ve got advice from top UXRs that should help you break through it.

Each topic below will outfit you with templates, webinars, interviews, and guides that’ll set you up for success whenever you feel stuck.

Jump to:

Navigating a career transition
Working more collaboratively
Conducting more inclusive research
Prioritizing accessibility in research and design
Taking your research international
Growing and managing your UX team
Scaling your research practice
Meeting tight deadlines
Ensuring your research makes an impact
Transitioning to remote research
Recruiting and managing participants
Proving the value of research
Managing a research project (and keeping it on track)
Mastering a specific methodology or producing a specific deliverable

Navigating a career transition

Read: Finding Your UX Niche: How to Define Your Research Role and Philosophy

Get started with this walkthrough on UX specialization. It’ll keep “where you’re going” (and where the field’s going) top of mind when you choose your next job, project, or educational opportunity.

Read: Leveling up your User Research Career

Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to isolate the skills you need to get there. This guide should inform both how you grow at your company, and inspire your company’s growth.

Download: The Complete Guide to Getting Started in a User Research Role

In a new role, or looking to take on new responsibilities? This guide outlines what you should do within your first day, week, and month to get started off on the right foot.

Additional resources: How to Optimize Your User Research ResumeA Brief Guide to Moving From Academic Research to User Experience Research, How to Ace the Dreaded Whiteboard Challenge, How to Transition from Full-time User Researcher to Freelancer

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Working more collaboratively

Read: User Research Workshops: Why, When, and How You Should Ideate as a Team, or (How to Run an Engaging Remote Workshop: Tips for Stress-Free Collaboration)

Successfully run workshops are the backbone of quality collaboration. They can motivate stakeholders, unearth new insights, build trust and reduce bias. These guides outline how to host a workshop with confidence—whether you’re in person, or working remotely.

Download: A Customizable, “Share With Your Team” One-Pager for Working with a UXR

Sometimes the best way to collaborate effectively, and efficiently, is to set guardrails. Use this customizable template to tell teammates how they can best work with you, and to set parameters for how to effectively answer research questions together.

Additional resources: The Power of Working Cross-Departmentally as a User Researcher, How to Debrief Your Team After a Research Session, 11 Ways to Keep Research Top-of-Mind For Your TeamUser Research Retrospectives: Your Key to Running Smoother Studies

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Conducting more inclusive research

Read: How We Empathize in UX Matters (An interview with social UX researcher Alba Vilamil)

Alba gives us a primer on the limits of empathy in research, how to decolonize research ethics, the untapped power of sociological analysis, and the root of design’s diversity problem. It’s an essential read for modern research ethics.

Read: How to Redesign for Justice (An Interview with Creative Reaction Lab Founder Antionette Carroll)

Antionette Carroll walks us through what a more inclusive world of research and design can look like—including how we can prioritize healing, look to the next generation, and empower those who most need a voice.

Watch: Panel Webinar: UX Research that Serves Communities

We brought together researchers in civil and nonprofit UX to share how their research serves their target communities—and how yours can better serve your audience, too. Hear their best advice for doing more thoughtful, and less extractive, UX work. (Or read the recap here).

Additional resources: 4 Key Design Principles for Gender Identity Inclusion, How to Find the Bears in Your Forest (Interview with Autumn Sanders Foster), Good Design is Cross Cultural (Interview with Senongo Akpem), Design in Three Dimensions (Interview with Jutta Treviranus)

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Prioritizing accessibility in research and design

Read: Why (and How) to Pay Attention to Accessibility in Design (Interview with Lauren Isaacson)

There are no edge cases, there are just users. Lauren Isaacson walks us through how to better understand our bias, and better set the groundwork for research that reaches, and accounts for, everyone.

Read: Inclusive and Accessible Research UX, A Starter Syllabus

This is a catch-all guide to building your research or design projects with care. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to immerse and educate yourself on some of the great reads, listens, and events behind the call for more equitable UX.

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Taking your research international

Read: Researching Users in Another Country? Here’s How to Prepare

From navigating new data legislation to adapting to new social norms—researching users abroad requires some adjustments. This basic primer should help you to adjust gracefully.

Read: A Complete Guide to Remote International Research Logistics

International research leads to some project management challenges. Juggling the logistics—from timezones, to partner management, to translation, to cultural expectations—can lead to workflow-breaking hiccups. This substantive guide breaks down how to avoid those.

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Growing and managing your UX team

Watch: How to Work Together While We’re Apart

Margaret Lee (UX Director) and Mike Buzzard (Design Manager) lead Google’s UX Community + Culture team, the first of its kind to invest in the health and success of the User Experience discipline across the company. Watch our conversation with them about building cohesive, productive, and connected UX teams remotely (or read the summary).

Read: The UX Research Adolescence (An interview with Monal Chokshi)

Monal Chokshi walks us through how she built UX research culture at Lyft—from hiring, to scaling, to better socializing the role of UX company wide.

Additional Resources: The UX Evolution (An Interview with Jen Romano-Bergstrom)

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Scaling your research practice

Read: How the Thumbtack Team of Three Scaled Research to 200+ Stakeholders

Cordelia Hyland talks about the triumphs and perils of research democratization. She walks us through the inner workings of her team’s democratization program at Thumbtack, and breaks down the way they’ve ensured research quality while enhancing research scope.

Watch: How to Democratize Your User Research Practice (Even Now)

Our panel shares their experiments with democratization at orgs like Facebook, Zapier, Slack, and Thumbtack—and offers a path forward for scaling safely and productively. Hear them discuss the future of UX in this webinar, or read the recap here.

Additional resources: Scale Insights with Rolling Research

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Meeting tight deadlines

Watch: Agile for Researchers

Agile qual expert Carrie Yury and Sonos’ Director of User Research Kristen Lewis share how “agile” and “qualitative” can work in tandem to deliver context efficiently. Hear their top tips for adding speed to your qualitative practice and collaborating within an agile environment.

Read: Foolproof Qualitative Analysis Tactics—For Whether You Have a Month or an Afternoon

Can you analyze your research efficiently, without cutting (crucial) corners? Here are some effective tactics for qual analysis on ideal and less-than-ideal timelines.

Additional resources: We’re Conducting Research at the Speed of Agile. Here’s a Case for Slowing Down, Meeting the Rising Demand for User Research (Advice from Google, AirBnB, LinkedIn and More), Want More “Agile” Qualitative Research? Take it Remote, 9 User Research Hacks for your Next Resource-Limited Project

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Ensuring your research makes an impact

Read: 6 Common Research Implementation Roadblocks—And How to Move Past Them

We asked leading researchers at Target, Google, and Even how they go from “distilling great insights” to “getting something done about them.” They told us about the low-effort/high-yield ways they’ve socialized research insights at their companies.

Read: 7 Ways to Ensure Your Research Insights are Heard and Acted Upon

From “meeting your colleagues where they are” to designing “wow-factor” deliverables, these tips for sharing research are thoughtful best practices we could all stand to remember if we want our research to be remembered.

Download: Free User Research Presentation Templates

If you’re short on time, design resources or inspiration, this customizable deck should help. Use it to take your deliverables—for quant or qual research—to the next level.

Additional reads: How to Present Research So Stakeholders Take Action, Stop Lights and Rainbow Charts: Two Engaging Templates for Qual Research Reports

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Transitioning to remote research

Read + Download: A Comprehensive Guide to Remote User Research: How to Unearth Essential Insights (HTML | PDF)

This is everything we know on effective remote research, distilled into one lengthy-but-handy guide. Skim it for the answer to a specific remote research question, or digest the whole thing for a deep dive on the state of modern qual research.

Read: Remote Research: 7 Experts’ Advice for Methods, Management, and Mechanics

Your full UX practice—your research methods, your day-to-day collaborative work, your share outs—are now remote. How do you adjust? We asked a handful of the best remote researchers in the biz that question and their advice did not disappoint.

Watch: Take Any Research Remote: How to Get Rich Data Virtually

At dscout, we’ve seen orgs have success with numerous remote opportunities—some that many researchers miss. We shared client-tested strategies for conducting and scaling remote studies—without sacrificing the depth of insights you’d expect from fielding in-person.

Additional reads: 10 Exciting (and Underutilized) Strategies for Remote, Unmoderated Research

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Recruiting and managing participants

Read: 5 Major Lessons from 1000+ Participant Screeners

If we want our best-fit participants, we need to put as much thought and effort into our screeners as we do the rest of our study design. Emily Kuhn has worked on thousands of participant screeners, and outlines the mistakes she’s seen crop up time and time again.

Read: Use These “Pre-Recruiting” Rituals to Pick the Right Participants Every Time

At the core of good recruiting is a firm understanding of your target users and your project’s goals. Here’s some advice for recruiting participants who provide you with rich responses and fuel a more insightful research study.

Additional Resources: Work More Effectively with These 9 “Difficult Participant” Personality Types

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Proving the value of research

Watch: Impactful UX: Business Essentials for Researchers and Designers

In a time of business uncertainty and changing customer priorities, it’s more important than ever for researchers and designers to have a “seat at the table.” Hear Carolyn Hou, Founder of Arlo Labs, and McLean Donnely, Principle at the Makery, discuss critical business frameworks for UX practitioners (or read the recap here).

Read: 11 Experts Weigh In: What Does the Future of User Research Look like?

Top researchers from Google, Lyft, Uber, and LinkedIn give us their take on where UR is moving and the challenges we’re set to face as the field grows. Understanding that future is essential for UXRs looking to take on the mantle of becoming strategic advisors.

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Managing a research project (and keeping it on track)

Read: How to Write a User Research Plan That Sets Your Project Up for Success

Research projects are complex, so some headaches are inevitable. But many can be relieved with a well-structured, well-written, research plan. Here’s a go-to reference for crafting one effectively.

Download: Easy-to-Follow, Free UX Research Plan Templates

We built a step-by-step UX research brief template that should get your study off to the right start. Use it to bring your stakeholders onboard, keep your next project on track, or get your team involved in the planning process.

Additional Resources: How to Set Up a User Research Framework (And Why Your Team Needs One), Project Management for User Researchers: How to Ensure a Smooth & Focused Project

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Mastering a specific methodology or producing a specific deliverable

Card sorting

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Data visualization

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Diary studies

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  • How to Conduct a Diary Study: A Start-to-Finish Guide (HTML | PDF)

(Generative) Interviews

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  • Generative Research: Everything You Need to Know to Run a Successful Study (HTML | PDF)

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Jobs-to-be-Done

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Journey maps

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Machine learning for user research

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Mental models

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Mixed methods

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Personas

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Research Summaries

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Surveys

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Usability tests

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“Quick insight” methods

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Mac Hasley

Mac Hasley is a writer and content strategist at dscout. She likes writing words about words, making marketing less like “marketing,” and unashamedly monopolizing the office’s Clif Bar supply.

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