Why should designers research
I started as a user researcher in a large company back in 2015 and quickly realized that my insights were getting lost in translation as they passed through the ears of several products managers and designers. Was I doing a terrible job at it? May be! But the itch to implement my learnings from users into meaningful product ideas was real. I switched roles to a designer position and as fate would have it, I didn’t have a researcher on the team, and thus, was doing some remote usability studies along with improving my design chops.
Since then, call it luck or a conscious choice I have had opportunities where I have been conducting both qualitative and quantitative user research to assess my designs. This writing is just a reflection on why design generalists might be a good addition to a design team and more companies should be taking that direction -
What’s in it for me (the designer)
- It makes you a more skilled designer/researcher.
- You understand the entire product life cycle better.
- You empathize with a designer/researcher if you have to collaborate on a project.
- You are consciously thinking about where your product could fail in a usability test and taking preventive actions.
- You live and breathe your user and can argue on behalf on your designs by brining the user’s voice.
- You can be the person who understands the big picture of a product vision as well go into the details of an interface at the drop of a hat.
- You are constantly thinking of different research methods to get the type of answers you are looking for.
- You don’t take criticism to your designs too seriously.
- You are always looking to make a better product keeping the end user in mind.
- You become great at communication because you are constantly talking and listening to a diverse set of users.
What’s in it for them (hiring company)
- You get one person for the cost of two (kidding!)
- This is a great way for smaller companies to set up a design team and understand their design needs.
- You can hire generalists to get your team started and diversify the skill set and your team and requirements start to grow.
- You always have a design and research resource that teams can consult with.
- The generalist can fill in the gap if one of the designer/researcher is on a leave.
- The generalist can be asked to work on any project, irrespective of where that project is, in it’s product lifecycle.
- You get a more user empathetic designer and product empathetic researcher.
- The generalist knows how to apply user findings into tangible product directions.
- The generalist does not shy away from contributing to more upstream work like product visions and understanding the product landscape.
- A generalist is always eager to learn new skills and will be willing to wear any hat should a crisis arise.
Hope those are enough reasons for companies to open up more design generalist roles and for designers to get involved in roles that go beyond their core strengths. Let me know what you think in the comments below :)