May 22, 2023

The Engine That Hums - UX Research

The author of this article lays out a radical proposition: put UX research in charge.

He’s right. Organizational workflows inhibit the power of research by treating it as a check-point.

But it’s not enough to change the decision-making flow in product development. User research needs to be the engine humming beneath all decisions.

Truly centering the user means everyone understands the user. All decisions–defining and prioritizing product features, determining pricing, evolving product–should be driven by a deep and shared understanding of the user. Historically, cultivating this type of understanding has been prohibitively resource intensive. Pulling insights from generative research is intense and requires extremely detail oriented work, balanced with a strategic perspective. Comprehensive coding and synthesis take a lot of time. There’s a critical gap between this tactical perspective and strategic work.

Leaders don’t have the time to get to know their users, and as a result, product strategy gets boxed in by supply side thinking–i.e., decisions are made based upon what product the company wants to build, rather than what users need them to solve, when they need it, and how they want it.

User research, UX, bottle neck, research, organizational workflow
Spend less time in the corral and more time with users.

It’s tempting to move this way–it feels faster, research cycles can be time and resource intensive, and leaders often feel like “running this idea by research” should be enough.

It isn’t.

This approach often leads to product releases that fail to resonate with users or provide the expected value. This then leads to technical debt, angry key stakeholders, lost ROI, and unhappy end users. Not to mention sticky team dynamics. Ultimately, an up front investment in thoroughly socialized findings would have saved considerable headache.  

Continual exposure to users–to their needs, the rhythms of their life, and to the social/emotional nature of their pain points–cultivates the quality of perspicacity in UX researchers. This deep insight, when well positioned, has the power to demystify product decisions and improve prospects for success. However, UX researchers often find themselves in a difficult position, feeling like "chicken little"–screaming about what our users want while we argue in meetings about things that don't matter.

UX, User Research, Chicken Little
“Listen. We can argue about which shade of red to use another time.”

Emerging tools, like CoNote, make it possible for strategic leaders to embody the work of a user researcher. CoNote is a powerful AI tool designed to supercharge user research. It empowers users to collaborate with stakeholders, organize research, and share insights in real-time, streamlining the product development process and facilitating collective intelligence about the user experience.

What would happen if your organization could more quickly pull and share insights from users? Consider the idea of a strategic hivemind–we all know what the next move is, we spend less time passing decisions between players, and we move as a unit with UX as a North Star.

Stop asking UX researchers to be the voice of the user. Instead, cultivate a collective consciousness around the experience of the user.

The Engine That Hums - UX Research


CoNote is a platform for collaborative research at scale.