Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Interview with Natasha Kapur

Head shot of Natasha Kapur

How did you get started in UX?

I've been in research for around 6.5 years now (time flies)! I started out life in a market research agency - I kind of fell into the world of research, not really knowing what I wanted to do after finishing uni. It was almost a eureka moment when I saw the job ad so I went for it and luckily got the role. Whilst there, the types of clients and work naturally gravitated towards digital/tech and so I had exposure to more and more UX research projects which I really enjoyed. I always preferred the tangibility of this type of research and the fact that it felt super actionable. Agency life had many plus points and some challenges at the same time. On the plus side, I got to work on tons of really interesting projects for big name brands across a huge range of industries. I learnt so much in a short space of time! The variety I experienced was great but I realised that I wanted more oversight and involvement in what comes before and after the research which is something you rarely get working in an agency.

So, I decided to move to an in-house research role during the pandemic and joined a small London based fintech. I gained so much invaluable insight - I learnt so much about research ops and the importance of defining clear and efficient processes, raising the visibility of research around the business to drive the impact of our work and democratising research by empowering non researchers to carry out some of their own studies.

This led me to my current role in the BT Business Digital Design team where I've been for the last 4 months. It's on the complete other end of the scale in terms of company size so it’s been super interesting so far!

How do you convince stakeholders of the value of doing research?

Firstly, I think it's really important to take stakeholders on the research journey and bridge the gaps between them and the user. I like to include them as much as possible in every stage of the research process as there's nothing more powerful than your stakeholders seeing/hearing from the users themselves.

There's also an element of building up trust in research - I've worked with teams where research maturity is quite low and in these instances, starting off with identifying the 'quick win' opportunities where you can deliver insights quickly helps to prove the value of research from the get go. Finally, there can be a perception that research is a bottleneck for the rest of the design process as it can be seen as too slow so highlighting flexibility and agility in the research process is key to help ease this.

How have you found is the best way of sharing your research insights or findings?

I don't think there's a 'one size fits all' approach to sharing insights but I do try to avoid really long slide decks as they're harder for people to engage with and they're time consuming to put together. Going back to what I was previously saying around building trust, reducing the amount of time it takes to deliver findings once the research has taken place is useful for keeping the momentum going - interesting techniques I've used before include insight movies, mind maps and infographics which have proved really engaging. I'm interested in exploring how to share research findings directly into Figma next!

What do you think about the growing trend to get other members of the team, designers, product managers etc, to do research?

I'm a fan of this trend! I think there are many advantages both for researchers and non researchers but it's not something that can happen overnight and requires time and effort upfront to upskill.

From a researcher's point of view, it means there is more time freed up to take on meatier pieces of work in the backlog and it also increases visibility to the skill that researchers bring to the table.

From a non-researchers point of view, it helps them to build empathy with the users and it's also an opportunity to upskill which many are keen for. The caveat to this is that it's really important to employ some guardrails to make sure research remains robust.

A helpful first step is to identify the experience/confidence levels of non researchers when it comes to running their own studies and identify the types of research that non researchers can take on. Appropriate support must also be available - researchers should be on hand to coach other members of the team through the research process rather than leaving them to work it out for themselves.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Don't overlook small companies when applying for roles - you tend to get more responsibility early on as well as the flexibility to carve out the path you want compared to larger companies where things tend to be a bit more rigid. It's okay if your first role doesn't end up being your dream role, as long as there are opportunities to learn and develop it's all valuable experience which will help you land your next role. When you're starting out, it's all about getting your foot in the door!

Thank you to Natasha for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to learn more about Natasha you can find her on LinkedIn.

If you know someone you think I should speak to for this series, do let me know.

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