I drifted into user research from my media work, writes Media Parents’ Jonathan Richardson. Back in the day of BBC iPlayer’s launch I gathered feedback and worked with the development team to prioritise improvements and test new ideas.
Since then I’ve been working on a range of websites and services to uncover audience insights. While I’ve mainly worked in government and academia, I’m looking to pivot back to focus on media organisations. There’s a clear opportunity for organisations to get into user research to understand their audiences.
User research is a mix of roles: combine journalism with anthropology, academic research and a lot of project management. And it makes for a highly interesting job.
I ensure that organisations understand their audiences by creating research to understand user motivation and behaviour. Once we have a good working knowledge I then lead teams to create new designs to determine if these improve the user experience.
This can be making a website be clearer and flow better. For example, so students find the right course for them. Or I map out journeys and processes to understand where the pain points and opportunities are.
My work has mainly been remote based, even before lockdown. I can spend most of my day interviewing people then documenting and analysing it. Interviews can be like therapy to some as I listen to them vent or talk their troubles out. My journalism background definitely helps with interviewing.
I also combine my freelance work with my own start-up plans for a remote writers’ room using Agile project management methods. I’ve been running this for the past year and we recently completed our goal of having a proof-of-concept that shows the process works.
I’m fortunate in that my wife was taking 2020 as maternity leave for our daughter so we haven’t had fights over who got to use the home office. Our son started school in September and we’re thankful that he’s enjoying it and is back with friends.
The amount of work has reduced slightly since Covid but there’s still plenty of demand. I use any free time to work on my own projects and train others in user research.
So if you’re looking to find out more about working in Agile and user research, or want to let me know about problems in your organisation, do get in touch. Likewise connect if you want to find out more about the remote writers room.
Get in touch here or via Media Parents https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/16592/jonathan-richardson