Our mentor Haydyn Phillips a UX Director at AstraZeneca, agrees that it is difficult to create a good UX research portfolio as there are many differences in terms of context for us to take into consideration. In this blog, we will be looking at UX Research Portfolio through a basic psychological lens. Note: most of the information in this blog is from and credited to Haydyn via his past group session on UX Research in 2021.
UX Research is highly varied, and one organization’s practice may be different from another. Individual differences in researchers vary wildly as well as education, experience, environment, and personal philosophy. All play a major impact in the way we conceptualize, operationalize, analyze, and disseminate our research outputs.
Describing Research Data
Describing data can be a different type of challenge. Telling a story is often the last hardest thing to do when presenting our work to our peers, employers, or to receive feedback for our own improvement and reflection.
Our Research Output is Impacted by Individual Differences
Education Formal or informal, direct or indirect.
Experience Deep or shallow, novice or expert.
Environment Location and context, people and influence.
Philosophy Objective or subjective views of the world.
Defining ‘good’ UX Research Portfolio Variables
Logical Ensure that your research output makes sense. A UX story should have an introduction, body story, and conclusion that could hint or imply further research in this space.
Think: If I showed my UX research portfolio to a non-UX person could I logically explain the study/research?
Representative Your UX research portfolio output should be able to represent and reflect the work that you have done or have been part of. This could be manifested in terms of vague descriptions of methods, process, analysis, and structure or sometimes describe efforts that have not truly reflected what impact the research had/has within a project. Think: Does what I’m showing truly reflect what the research was trying to achieve through all stages?
Accurate Your UX research portfolio should be accurate and truthful in relation to your study. Reflect on the nature of what you are trying to describe or explain to your audience.
Think: Correlation is not causation.
Psych Research Framework Using psychology to offer a robust but flexible UX research framework.
Create a consistent, repeatable, transparent framework. Psychology research provides the potential in how to frame our UX research portfolio so that we can be more robust, transparent, and offer more success from future endeavors.
Provide research abstract The Overview section of your UX research portfolio.
For example: This formative usability study examined reflective coffee purchasing opinions of 8 NZ participants who are frequent coffee buyers (4 female, 2 make, 1 NB). A 2-day lab session using the think-aloud protocol with a mobile app prototype revealed X themes and Y stats. Overall this reflects A and B for our project. Further research is needed to understand Z…
State your Introduction The Background section of your UX research portfolio.
For example: Reflective purchasing habits of coffee buyers in New Zealand have been shown to depend on technological interventions such as wearables and mobile apps. This study addresses a gap in knowledge that has typically been theoretical in nature and not applied in HCI. Therefore, we aim to understand the qualitative impact of a mobile app intervention aimed at eliciting reflective purchasing themes from our sample group.
Describe your Research Method The ‘What we or I did’ section of your UX research portfolio.
For example: 8 participants were recruited based on a screener that screened X. Using a mobile app prototype we used 5 specific tasks to capture reflective coffee purchasing habits. A script was created that added additional prompts for the moderator. Thematic analysis (based on Braun & Clarke) was utilized for qualitative output as well as a basic descriptive analysis of SEQ and SUS.
Research Results or Analysis The Outcome section of your UX research portfolio.
For example: For the usability analysis, we followed the steps for TA using an inductive (bottom-up) approach which helped us to develop themes including X (describe theme with quote). From usability data, median task difficulty was C (for task n) and overall SUS was X in the 90th percentile for this type of product.
Research Discussion & Conclusion The Thoughts and/or Conclusion section of your UX research portfolio.
For example: Our study has described the felt experience of NZ coffee purchasers in relation to their reflective buying habits through X themes. This is in contrast to existing data that shows Y. Our prototype demonstrated low (X, Y, Z) stats that should be taken in the context of the type of study. Upon reflection we learned that…we feel in the future that an additional study would allow us to…
The So What section According to Hadyn, this section is often overlooked. A tip to becoming a better researcher is to always ask yourself, “So, what?”. This is a critical reflection that takes some time for you to think about the impact of your research. It could help to sharpen your skills and your employability.
Click here to discover some good examples of UX Research Portfolios: Format + Examples.
Application and thoughts
“Whilst it’s great to have frameworks like this, it won’t appeal to everyone. I encourage you to take or think about what works for you in an applied setting. Don’t stress about being a perfect researcher!” - Haydn.
Be consistent Employers and peers want to see consistency in your approach
Presenting Information Awareness Our choices are determined by the information we’re shown. Surface information at the correct time, remove information that could trigger poor decision-making or understanding and consider when or if you should ‘delay’ information in your presentation.
Evaluate your evaluation Take some time to evaluate how you feel compared to your peers. It could be a portfolio critique, method selection analysis, or quality of analysis review. How you react to and seek feedback can be a good indication behaviorally of where you are in your career.