UX Research Methods From Dropbox, Deliveroo and Others

UX is one of the fastest growing industries. According to Nielsen Norman Group, it’s already one million people strong and predicted to grow to 100 million people by 2050. Therefore, it’s vital to equip ourselves with relevant UX Research practices. To help, we have put together some of this year’s trends, tips and frameworks.

Democratising Research From Dropbox

UX matters defines democratising research as an approach that focuses on encouraging different teams within an organisation to conduct UX research, analyse the results, and apply those insights. Every organisation has a different way of democratising research. We decided to focus on Dropbox’s three-pronged approach:

1. Facilitate Unmoderated Remote Research

Dropbox believes that not all research requires an hour-long, in-depth conversation. Hearing a user talk aloud while they test a prototype can give insight into usability and language problems and potentially give some understanding of user workflows.

They use usertesting.com as the main tool for this research. With UserTesting, you link to a prototype that you need feedback on and any questions you want the user to answer. usertesting.com is a great for democratising research:

  • It's easy – The process of setting up a test is uncomplicated.

  • It's fast – After finishing the test, the video recordings are ready in one or two hours.

  • It's remote – You can reach out to participants internationally with no need to be in the office.

2. Real World Wednesdays

Dropbox facilitates low-risk moderated research through Real World Wednesdays. They describe it like speed dating for researchers.

How it works:

  • Every other Wednesday they invite 5 users to take part.

  • Then five Dropbox Teams who have concepts to test.

  • Each team gets 15 minutes with the participants.

  • In 90 minutes, a team gets feedback that helps shape decisions or additional research.

This is a key to democratising research because:

  • It gives non-researchers the chance to connect directly with users and build empathy.

  • Moderated tests allow for deeper conversations and richer data.

  • It’s a low risk method for novices to try out moderating.

3. Hands-on support for non-researchers

To raise the quality of research conducted by cross-functional partners, Senior Design Researcher, Christopher Nash, consulted on their research full-time.

Hands-on consulting is vital because:

  • Product teams have more confidence in insights when trained researchers are involved in the study.

  • Untrained researchers have a bias towards business needs and frame their questions in this way. Whereas a researcher would frame questions in terms of the user’s needs.

  • Unsupervised research by untrained researchers may cause low-integrity insights.

Source: UX Matters, UX Collective

Research Repositories From Samantha Sergeant (Ex-Deliveroo)

A hot topic right now in UX Research are Research Repositories. Other terms for it include research libraries, finding databases, depending on what’s best understood by your organisation or users. Senior User Researcher, Samantha Sergeant has shared best practices for an effective research repository.

1. Make A List

  • Write research lists and group them into high-level themes. For example, Deliveroo grouped research conducted by restaurant partners into topics such as ‘choosing a delivery partner’ and ‘experience with refunds’.

2. Use Unique Identifiers

  • Almost in the same way a published book has an ISBN number, you need a system to point out relevant research in the fastest way possible.

3. Share Research Collectively

  • Have one place where research is always shared.Encourage researchers to cross-post it to whatever additional groups or channels they feel are appropriate to hit their stakeholder audience.

4. Maintain Standards

  • Make it a team member’s job to maintain this – to ensure high standards are maintained.

  • It can save everyone time conducting new research for insights that you have already discovered, but can’t find where they are saved.

Source: Samantha Sergeant for ResearchOps Community

Ethics In Research

Design for The Mind author, Victor S. Yocco says ‘research involving human participants has the potential to cross over ethical boundaries if done poorly’. 

Which is why he has identified six common areas to watch out for when conducting any research.

1. Vulnerable Populations

  • Researchers’ intentions for studying humans in vulnerable populations needs to be well-justified. 

  • Vulnerable populations include those who are ill, non-english speakers, ethnic or racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged. 

  • Don’t conduct research on vulnerable populations unless it’s vital to your study. 

  • UX Researchers should seek guidance from an impartial, ethical review board before conducting this kind of research.

2. Misleading Users/Deception

Researchers need to rationalise any attempt to deceive or distract users from the true purpose of the research.

Before undertaking your study, consider the following questions with your full product team:

  • What role am I asking the user to play in this study and why?

  • What expectations am I creating in the participant through their participation in the research?

  • What, if any, mental harm or stress could come from someone participating in this study?

3. Misleading Users/Deception

  • Researchers need to be aware of sensitive topics that risk confrontation or extreme emotional responses during an interview.

  • Don’t conduct research if you can’t manage scenarios with human emotions and unpredictable responses.

  • Practice role-playing extreme scenarios with your colleagues before engaging in research, to see how we might respond to unexpected reactions.

4. False Expectations

  • Research participants might have expectations about the purpose of your research and how you might use their information.

  • How you account for these expectations could be limited if you are not directly in the recruiting process.

  • Provide the recruitment team detailed guidelines of who you are trying to reach and outline the importance of getting a diverse, non-convenience sample.

  • Also, include a script that clearly states what information participants need to know before taking part in your research.

5. No Idea How To Use/Interpret These Findings

Research participants’ time is valuable – they already fight survey fatigue and screen fatigue. 

Which is why it is important to identify the purpose of your research and how you will use it beforehand.

Consider the following questions to make sure you can correct the right data and interpret your findings:

  • What are the question(s) your study is trying to answer?

  • What specific questions will you ask on your interview, survey, usability test, etc?

  • How does each of these specific questions tie back to your overall research question?

6. Information Misuse

  • Researchers ask participants for their personal information all the time. So it’s important to make aware of any agreement they are entering into with giving you their data. 

  • Inform users before conducting research whether their information will be kept or destroyed.

  • If stored, consider how the information will be protected and stored.

  • It’s useful to keep your findings a year or two from now, if someone challenges your findings, and you have no way of showing your work.

Source: Victor S. Yocco, Ethical considerations in UX Research

Want to learn more UX Research practices? Check out our new programme, UX Research ✹ Live ✹ and gain insights from Facebook, Atlassian, Mural and many more!


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