Design Concepts wins GOOD DESIGN Award for its work on Pelvalon's Eclipse System

User Experience Research at LinkedIn

October 16, 2017

Julie Norvaisas, who is my sister (learn more about sisters in research in this blog), co-founder of Design Strategy and Research at Design Concepts, and now Director of User Experience Research (UER) at LinkedIn, joined us recently to share her perspective on how she approaches user experience research at LinkedIn. 

Her presentation went over commonly asked questions and what followed was a lively discussion about design, research and the future of our field.

 Below are a few highlights:

 Hiring Lessons: “Hiring well is the most important thing that I do”

Hire well; be selective.  They have a rigorous process but Julie has learned to trust her instincts, if something comes up that gives them pause they don’t try and explain it away. 

Culture

At LinkedIn, they have their shared values up and around all over the campus(s). Things like:

  • Members come first
  • Demand excellence
  • Relationships matter
  • Act like an owner
  • Humor
  • Dream big, have fun, get shit done

Likewise, she has built a culture for her team including addressing their shared mission and values. Her team embodies what she feels is important for success in the field.  She mentioned words like:

  • Storytelling – engage an audience, be credible, be concise
  • Collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Diplomatic
  • Rigorous – not dogmatic
  • Experimental
  • Curious
  • Empathetic
  • Transparent and social

Sharing Information

Helping people access their team, their insights, combining/collaborating with other teams across over 100 products is one challenge.  She and her team have created some tools and approaches to help bring the user closer to everyone in the organization, which are branded to create a fun and memorable identity.

Go ahead and get other there, talk to people, be curious, ask questions and be open to their answers.

For example: 

Field Day: Full-day research immersion with stakeholders. In the morning, teams of three LinkedIn folks fan out to speak with members or customers in their context with UER leading the interviews. They spend the afternoon debriefing as a group to quickly build empathy and align on key learnings and themes.

BrainHive: Research-fueled workshop. Starting with what they already know around a product or topic, they review and discuss these insights to spark ideation and reveal areas where further research is required.

Research Bento: Empowers designers with a DIY UER toolkit. This helps scale their approach, train designers in basic UER, and infuses LinkedIn products with more insight directly from their users. Here’s an article Kassie Chaney from her team wrote about Bento.

Julie stressed that it’s also important to deliver findings that are fun and memorable, using frameworks or acronyms to help them catch traction in the organization.

Design for Product vs Software

And finally, we had a lively discussion on how doing design research is different depending on if you are designing hardware, software or experiences.  Short story, it’s not.  We use the same methods and tools, same process and ethos.  The difference lies in how we deliver the information.  That must be tailored to the audience, their process, their needs and what they are trying to solve. So, whether you are doing something for discovery, concept testing or usability, you as a researcher must be able to approach them all, pulling from your toolbox of methods and approaches and your ethos of humans first.

A Word of Warning from the Front Lines of Innovation

You likely don’t need fancy tools, algorithms and expensive approaches. Go ahead and get other there, talk to people, be curious, ask questions and be open to their answers.  That is likely to get you much of what you need to inspire and inform design.

Thanks for the great conversation, Julie!  Come back soon!!