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Pre-CNY 2021, we were lucky to catch up with UX Designer and Researcher Ms Shiyun Lim in Singapore. Shiyun has worked with major Brands such as Zendesk and SP Digital. In this interview, Shiyun shared her views about User Research and Remote User Research in detail. We could not have asked for more as our CNY gift.
Please read on.
Would you mind sharing a little bit about your experience as a UXer? For instance, things that you have done and parts of UX which you love doing?
I've worked as a Designer for 5-6 years, being responsible from defining what to build to how it was built and understanding how decisions performed after shipping.
Subsequently, I spent some time specialising in design/market research. The time specialising in research was quite fruitful — it showed me that there was a lot deeper we could go into each design field.
Next up, I'll be heading back to work as a designer again, as I realised I also like a slightly more generalist aspect of working as a designer.
Personally, I love the mindset that design teaches, of seeing possibilities and of experimenting and exploration. It's especially fulfilling if something or some system I've worked on can help make life better for another person, in that it helps them create more value or increases their productivity.
If you look at the state of User Research in Asia, what seems to be working very well?
Not sure if I'm the best person to answer this considering the short time I spent specialising in research, but I think we're quite good at being inclusive in our research, and understanding that there's a lot of diversity in human experiences. Asia is a collection of very diverse cultures — language, identity, race, habits, perspectives, values... For example, I know that some teams do incredibly well with research across multiple languages, and that's not necessarily always a focus in other parts of the world?
From a UX Designer perspective, what are the most challenging aspects of user research?
Hm… to be honest, the aspects I think are challenging could be unique to me. I've been fortunate in that all the places I've worked at have been very supportive of user research, so perhaps the biggest challenge I've faced is recruiting the right people for research? Personally, I love B2B/enterprise-centric design, and relevant participants may sometimes be a little difficult to find or defensive when it comes to talking about their work, as they worry about repercussions in their jobs.
I do hear that sometimes people struggle with getting buy-in or support for carrying out certain research or ensuring that their insights are acted upon, but it's not an issue I've personally faced. 🤞
Another challenge I sometimes hear from friends is that there’s often too much data from research, that analysing and synthesising findings becomes overwhelming instead and folks may struggle with knowing where to start.
Do the executives see User Research to be as important as other fields e.g. software development, Digital marketing? If not, how can that possibly change?
Again, yes! Personally I've not had any major issue getting executives to believe in or value user research (thanks to all the kind executives I've worked with!). Executives also want a thriving business, and you can’t have that by completely ignoring user needs surfaced by user research forever. Perhaps at the moment executives may focus on other fields because there are more urgent issues challenging the longevity of the business, but ultimately our goals to provide value for the customer are always aligned in the long run.
Can unmoderated remote testing improve the way user research and usability testing is done today?
Oh for sure, yes. Unmoderated remote testing is fast and easy, and it can be a quick way of getting insights for certain product decisions. Personally, I haven't used unmoderated testing in my course of work much, but it's a good methodology fit when we are trying to make fast decisions with manageable stakes, and don't have resources to carry out more in-depth or extensive research. For example, if we're deciding between a few flows each with low implementation cost, if we are making reversible choices that don't have high repercussions, we are dealing with non-critical path flows, or if we simply want a quick sentiment check… I think unmoderated remote testing could be a good fit in these situations.
Do you have some tips to share with fellow Designers and Researchers for Conducting Remote UX Research and Testing?
🤔 I think my main tip applies to any type of research — we should always understand what knowledge we are trying to acquire, and what are the stakes of decisions hinging on this desired knowledge, before carrying out any research. The world is a complex place and we rarely can have 100% confidence in everything we do. Yet, spending more time to get to higher confidence isn't always desirable — the world may have moved on, or it may be less costly to just proceed and learn from the decision. Getting clarity on why we need particular knowledge will then inform to what degree of confidence we need this knowledge to be trustworthy, and we can then find the lowest possible cost way to get this knowledge, to our desired confidence levels.
Specific to remote research, I’ve found it harder to provide the same sense of psychological safety for research participants, as compared to in-person research. For me, it has thus been helpful to embrace little imperfections during research sessions. Laughing openly at my technical hiccups, admitting that there will be background noise (from my 2 adorable nephews at perfect screaming age), being comfortable that I may not look my best... This has helped me get into a more relaxed mindset, and also helps the research participant feel comfortable that they are dealing with a human being on the other side.
Thank you Shiyun and UXArmy wishes you a best of luck in your career. Happy CNY!
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