Living in a world where we are required to be extroverted can be challenging for those who consider themselves an introvert. As an introvert, you become quite comfortable in your bubble of sorts but when asked to step outside your comfort zone, well, that’s when challenges arise. Especially when it comes to leading UX research which requires social interactions with users, if this sounds anxiety-provoking don’t worry, there have been many introverts in the field who have faced the same dilemma.
UX research, however, is a common responsibility in UX design and can’t always be avoided. So how do you lead UX research if you’re an introvert? You’ve definitely come to the right place then. In today’s installment, we will provide you with helpful tips to better manage those introverted jitters and feel more confident if you’re leading UX research.
First, let's break down what UX Research actually is in all its awesomeness.
So what is UX Research? If you aren’t familiar with this other aspect of UX/UI design you’re in for an amazing surprise. UX research is another fascinating area within UX/UI design that plays a critical role in the overall design process. Within your role as a UX researcher you get to research, identify, and solve problems through collecting data, observations, and user testing. This role requires one to be more analytical with how they create their studies so that results can reveal user needs, motivations, and behaviors.
Daily job responsibilities include:
As a UX researcher, you play a pivotal role in the design process because your results are what drive the work for UX and UI designers. The research findings allow designers to complete the design of the product making the design process more efficient. This type of role is perfect for those who enjoy problem-solving, communicating, collaborating, and helping others.
1. Introvert Qualities are Useful in the Field
We currently live in an extroverted world which can be quite overwhelming for introverts for a variety of reasons. Introverts are often told to ‘be more social’ or ‘you need to talk more’ instead of being celebrated for who they are. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, and although there can be challenges at times, there are several introverted qualities that are essential for leading UX research. Qualities such as being thoughtful, learning well through observation, keeping emotions in check and remaining objective, processing information internally, working on projects alone, putting the user first, and remaining unbiased.
Introverts are fantastic at noticing details in their environment simply by remaining observant. All of these qualities are essential if you’re leading UX research as an introvert. Such skills allow for you to pick up on details that others miss and your unbiased opinions won’t influence the research. There also may be times when you’re conducting or analyzing research by yourself, and your familiarity with alone time serves you well here. Being able to listen, reflect, think before talking, and pay attention to details is key in your role as a UX researcher and in producing excellent data.
2. Understand Your Role
Another tip to help with leading UX research as an introvert is understanding your role as a researcher. If you’re new to leading research then try researching what UX research is and how others lead studies. There are so many helpful tips and tricks online and you’ll be getting research practice too. Clarify with your supervisor what they expect from you in this role and what they are looking for in terms of the research (i.e. research methods to use, demographic information of users, where research will be conducted, and etc.).
Research is all about the insights you detect throughout the research process, and those insights ultimately help designers create amazing products. Your role is key because without the data from users then designers wouldn’t be able to design a product well. Simply listening to users encourages them to talk more which gives you more data! The better your study and the more you know about your users the better the product will be.
Researchers also tend to lean more on the supportive side when working with users which is a strategy in and of itself. Being supportive of users makes them feel more comfortable and willing to participate. It can be awkward for strangers to come in for a study and so being supportive makes them feel more comfortable. In addition, you can still incorporate your creative side into this role when creating the study and putting your own unique spin on it.
3. Take Breaks to Recharge
The number one challenge to leading UX research as an introvert would be quicker emptying of your social battery. This is good advice for anyone but introverts especially need to take breaks throughout their day. Expecting yourself to complete back-to-back usability tests or interviews is unproductive and will lead to burnout. Be smart and create breaks in between your studies such as a 15-minute break. You know yourself best and how much social interaction you can take.
It is perfectly okay to take a break so that you can come into the next study feeling recharged and ready to go. Introverts typically enjoy spending time alone so it makes sense that having alone time in between studies would help you to feel refreshed. Also, try listing different ways you can recharge at work. Do you like going for walks or meditating? Do you like to listen to music to relax or draw? There are many different ways you can take a break which will benefit both you and your research participants.
4. Create Guidelines
One piece of solid advice in UX research is to ‘expect the unexpected’. You never know when you walk into the room the users you’ll be working within the study. Some participants may be more extroverted and take over control of the conversation. Maybe two participants begin to argue or a participant no longer wants to be part of the study. These things happen and although we can’t prevent them from happening we can set some guidelines for everyone involved (participants and observers).
Having observers and participants can impact an introvert’s behavior (having people watch you can be intimidating). Try writing up guidelines for both the participants and observers and include what is expected of them during the study. It’s okay to cold stop someone especially if they’re derailing or interfering with your study. You could also tell the participant that you appreciate their feedback but you have to follow your guide. A simple redirection can work well here too. Creating guidelines for observers and participants will help everyone to act accordingly and give you control of your research. Remember, this is your territory and having guidelines available will give you more confidence moving forward.
Practice. Practice. Practice. To become better at anything we have to practice repeatedly until we get it right. The more that you practice something the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel over time. Leading UX research is the art of conducting research and how you ask questions. It’s important to know how the research process will unfold, what needs to be said and done and to be familiar with your moderator guide.
A moderator guide is a script UX researchers use during the study and helps impart key information to the participants. Moderator guides ensure participants receive the same instructions, direct participants to engage in certain activities, prompt them with questions, and help maintain consistency throughout the study. Once you’ve created your guide practice, go through it before the study begins so you familiarize yourself with the process and gain feedback from others.
Whether you conduct your research remotely or in person, silence is a great technique to use. Silence gives users time to think of how they want to respond, and it allows you time to collect your thoughts and appear less scripted to the audience. Continuous practice will ensure the quality of your sessions and have you leading research like a pro!
You’ve Got This!
Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is never easy but with these tips, you’ll be confidently leading UX research in no time! Remember to keep practicing, give yourself some credit, and go easy on yourself. It takes time and practice to become good at your craft and find your own personal style. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, own your superpower, and move forward with confidence!
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Meggen is a SEO content writer who loves hiking, drinking coffee, and traveling. She loves her avocados on toast with egg and bacon.