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User Research - with a difference Lesley mackenzie-robb phd, dIP. ux dESIGN

"You talk, we listen - you say, we do"

by Lesley Mackenzie-Robb PhD

Observing - Questioning - Listening - Understanding - Affiliating - Analysing - Evidencing - Reporting - Changing - Improving

Welcome! I'm a senior user researcher with 20+ years cross-sector experience in UX and mainstream (qualitative and quantitative) research, and a qualified UX Designer. In the last five years, I've had the privilege of working on a diverse range of programmes including organisational behaviour change, product development, social justice, learning and development, education2employment, and the impact of Covid on young people's career chances. I like to think that in most if not all cases, my work has made a positive difference: delivering improved human experience and business outcomes.

I am fully experienced in 'end-to-end research projects' - research design and hypothesis, planning, recruitment, implementation and analysis (thematic, narrative, discursive, conversation, content, descriptive statistics), using findings to drive insight and recommendations. And I have a useful background in software design/development, project management, IM and creative media.

PhD, MA, BSc Hons (Applied Psychology). lesley@knowing-how.com

Deep discovery analysis work exploring multiple variables and their projected impact on project outcomes, using NVIVO. 8 hours of verbatim transcriptions.

In the last 4 years, I've worked on research projects investigating the apprentice user experience (transition to FT employment, and impact of C-19/lockdown); designed new content for a leading adult skills assessment platform, researched how adult ESOL learners and practitioners currently use EdTech and their challenges, and developed and piloted an innovative custom-designed adult pedagogy for a particular category of learner as a part of a transnational project team. More recently, I've been working with NHS Digital on the research and design of a new Primary Care online procurement support app to be rolled out nationally to more than 5,500 practices, and with the Test & Trace team at the Department for Health and Social Care.

Usability test reports and initial mappings
Affinity diagram drawing on usability tests
Analysis and planning
Customer Journey map drawing on affinity diagrams to identify where improvement are needed.
Working through a flow diagram for a desktop app - connecting this to Customer Journey Map - and this becomes this....
The Flow Diagram addressing issues identified through UTs, Affinity Diagram, and Customer Journey Map
Sketching out the interactions
Detailed wireframes

The last step of the project involves creating detailed wireframes for each screen/state of the app with detailed instructions to developers on interaction, functionality, user feedback, component placement and navigation. The more detailed this step is, the more the development can be done accurately and efficiently.

Check out the functional prototype, created using Figma, designed to demonstrate the functionality design and user flow through the app. This version is designed for desktop with the design specifically tailored to subsequent development as a responsible website design, capable of adapting to any device.

A project I'm particularly proud of involved working with a team of partners to build and deploy a national online platform that aggregates family-relevant data from all Local Authorities across England. This was achieved through researching and developing a new taxonomy (card sorting workshops), and training personnel across all local government authorities in its application as core to the metadata solution. This allows the aggregator to seamlessly receive data pushed automatically 24/7, tagged accurately to a common information architecture.

Images from a selection of my earlier e-learning projects

What I do - apply robust research methods working in collaboration with clients to gain distinctive and differentiated positive design impact and improvement

  • From initial research project design and planning (defining the research hypothesis and question(s)), to participant profiling, sampling and screening, adhering to ethical standards (e.g., BERA) ....
  • .....to the design of research methods, primarily qualitative with a smidgeon of quantitative, analysis and reporting with findings clearly mapped to actionable insights;
  • Preliminary and Discovery / Field research - in-person and remote;
  • Usability testing and Evaluation studies - in-person or remote - mobile or desktop;
  • Various user research techniques including Interviews, workshops, group chat, ethnography, story-telling, Personas development, A/B testing, Card sorting, online surveys, experimental....whatever is appropriate to the context, user group and research questions;
  • Analytic tools include NVIVO 12, affinity diagrams, customer journey maps, storytelling and using methods / approaches including thematic and categorical analysis, conversation / discourse analysis, descriptive statistics, etc.;
  • Interaction design, development and testing of MVP/Prototypes and production of detailed application wireframes;
  • All leading to evidence-based findings with actionable insights drawing on in-depth data analysis with findings grounded in and building on pre-existing research;
  • Skilled at making effective and compelling presentations to stakeholders;
  • Familiar with GDPR, GDS plus W3C accessibility standards.

Who I do it for

Affiliations: User Experience Professionals' Association (UK), Associate with the Learning & Work Institute

"You talk, we listen: you say, we do" lesley@knowing-how.com