Undemocratising user research — Saswati Saha Mitra — UX Collective

A magic triangle: "Choose two between sustainability, scale and quality"

This piece really challenged my thinking.

In my job I am currently trying to figure out ways to make quality user research scale across the organisation in a sustainable manner. It’s like one of those triangular diagrams outlining three goals: “you can have two of these things”.

Working in such a large organisation, central resources inevitably have their limits. My desire is to empower others to carry out their own user research. Our role becomes an education role. How we do that remains an unsolved problem. Various attempts have yielded variable results.

But Saswati Saha Mitra, reflecting on her experiences of trying to democratise user research, suggests that it is a bad idea.

A researcher is a dynamic thinker who has to adapt their methods and questions based on who is in front of them, how much they have already learnt and what new areas could be probed on. This did not happen. We got a lot of verbatim and videos which after a point became repetitive and did not add more to the analysis. This then led to analysis paralysis.

I’m inclined to continue trying to empower others to conduct user research. But this article is food for thought.

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2 responses to “Undemocratising user research — Saswati Saha Mitra — UX Collective”

  1. nicola dobiecka avatar
    nicola dobiecka

    Thought provoking indeed. I think this series is a very good breakdown of the potential pitfalls.


    However I still think it’s worth it, we have to be very careful about how we do it – educating the right people and in the right way (and being aware of the risks and pitfalls).

  2. Thanks for the link Nicola. That looks great, I’ll take a look.

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