User experience research

 13 August 2018

Hedgehog lab is a global software consultancy that specializes in multi-platform software and connected device innovation. We spoke to Laura, Emily and Caitlin in the User Experience Research (UX Research) team about how they got into the industry and their work on the team.

There are many different ways to get into UX research
There are many different ways to get into UX research

Hedgehog Lab architects, designs, develops, and markets apps, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality & other digital solutions for phones, tablets, TV, kiosks & other post-PC devices.

Laura, Emily and Caitlin all found different paths into the industry.

What’s your education background?

Laura: At high school I did A Level Art and Design Technology. In college I did a Foundation course in Art and Design specialising in 3D Design. I then did a Bachelor of Arts in 3D Design: Furniture and Product at Northumbria University.

Unsure on my next steps I did a Masters in Multidisciplinary Innovation. After all that education I worked as a Research Assistant and Innovator in Residence at Northumbria University. I set up my own design company called Slope Design and volunteered for the National Trust… then I applied to Hedgehog lab!

Emily: I did AS Level Biology and A Level Psychology, Law and History. Then I did Psychology BSC at Northumbria University. Now I'm doing a Psychology Mres which is a Masters in Research… so I've studied Psychology for 6 years now!

Caitlin: I have A levels in English Language, PE and Fine Art (that was the only creative option apart from fashion). I then went on to do a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and specialised in Visual Communications at Newcastle College. Then following that went on to do a Foundation Degree in Visual Communications, specialising in Digital Design. I’m now doing my BA Honours in Creative Enterprise.  

What is UX Research? 

Laura: UX research is the process of discovering the behaviours, motivations and needs of customers (in our case, end users of an app) through observation, task analysis, and other types of user feedback. The primary goal of this type of research is to inform the design process from the perspective of the end user and to challenge preconceived assumptions from ourselves and our clients. 

UX research is the process of discovering the behaviours, motivations and needs of customers

We do things such as:

  • market/user research
  • ethnographic research surveys
  • user interviews
  • stakeholder interviews
  • focus groups
  • competitor analysis
  • survey analysis
  • data visualisation
  • identify key themes
  • scenario mapping
  • behavioural archetypes
  • persona creation
  • hypothesis testing
  • usability testing
  • design recommendations

... the list goes on. We tailor our methods and tools to be most useful for the project we are working on.

How did you become interested in UX Research?

Laura: In 2015 when I was working as an Innovator in Residence at Northumbria University I met an awesome man who worked at Google Glass in San Francisco and he introduced me to the concept of UX. We’ve stayed in touch since then and I kept my eye out for user experience roles closer to home because it sounded right up my street.

Emily: While doing my Psychology Masters we had a careers talk about other things we could do than a PhD - they brought up UX research but skipped over it. I did a bit more research myself and decided it was something I would like to do!

Caitlin: I became interested during our first digital project on app design. I found I was really drawn to the UX research side of things which at the time was wireframes and competitor analysis. I asked my tutor for advice and they recommended looking into areas that also link with working with people - UX research being one of them.

How did you find out about Hedgehog lab?

Laura: Hedgehog lab has a big presence in Newcastle. I saw the logo featured on banners at conferences I had attended but never really knew what they did until I saw a job vacancy for a UX research internship posted on LinkedIn. After looking at the reviews on Glassdoor I applied straight away!

Emily: I googled tech companies in Newcastle. I googled what companies would be looking for people like me and looked at smaller tech companies. I thought Hedgehog lab’s website looked cool and liked what they did, so I emailed them!

Caitlin: My college has links with previous students who now work here. I was able to visit, as well as collaborate on a project. I loved everything about it so I emailed and asked if there were any work experience opportunities.  

Do you enjoy being part of the team?

Laura: We work amazingly together. It's all about collaboration - we all bring something different to the team as our disciplines are so different!

I just like that we have different things to talk about -  if we all knew the same stuff it would be boring.

Caitlin: It's nice that we are all at the same level. Laura has been here for slightly longer, so she is classed as the lead, but we are all developing and working together which is nice. Plus, they are both lovely!

Emily: I just like that we have different things to talk about -  if we all knew the same stuff it would be boring.

How can others develop a career in UX research?

Laura: There are many routes into UX research, clearly, as we all have very different backgrounds, but one common thread is that we all have an interest in people and their motivations. Qualifications in human-computer interaction, business association, marketing, economics, computer science, cognitive science, psychology and information science are all a good way to get started.

Keep reading around the subject, see if there are any conferences or meet-ups in your local area. We all got started by doing an internship, which is a great way to work out if UX research is right for you.

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