Starting the conversation


I've been very ranty lately.  This in itself isn't new but it's also been accompanied by a sense of frustration and isolation. Ranting into an empty void on Twitter or at my colleagues or husband about things I think or believe in isn't enough anymore. I need an outlet. A place to gather together my thoughts and ideas.

In the past, I've not had a desire to have a personal website and most of my professional energy has been channelled into our businesses and keeping up friendships and relationships within the web industry. Any writing I've done has been for our products, articles for web publications or for clients. There hasn't been a lot of head space left for personal or professional musings that don't fit into those categories.

Recently though I've found myself needing to challenge myself and have found a new thirst for reading outside of the typical industry publications. Hardly anyone is writing or talking about the things I am interested in. I keep having flashes of insight that I need to capture or finding myself lost in thought about a tricky issue but no-where to go to discuss it.

I have spent the best part of the last 14 years helping people better understand their audiences through research and analysis. I started out in online advertising research and then moved into audience research in the broadcasting industry, working across multi platform projects. 5 years ago, I switched over to focusing on just web and joined the business I'd helped my husband to set up. The obvious label for me in the web industry is a UX researcher and this was one of my job titles for a while. But I never quite felt totally at home in the UX camp and kept one foot firmly in the web design camp, calling what I do design research. 

Most recently, my title is that of 'Research Director' which does seem to adequately describe my role. Lately I've been wondering if there are many others 'like me' out there in the industry doing a similar kind of research role. There certainly seem to be researchers dotted around the place but there isn't a movement or a conference where like minded people get together yet - is this how the content strategists got their own thing going? There are existing research groups like the Market Research Society in the UK which I am a member. They have an annual conference. I'm tempted to go, but I'm not sure it'll give me quite what I need either.

As a way of 'scratching my own itch' I thought I'd start writing some of my thoughts and ideas down and perhaps start a dialogue with other people who might be also interested. The topic of research seems to be gradually increasing as a talking point amongst the design community (not just amongst UXers) which is great. There are several new books and more and more articles out there now - I have commissioned several Pocket Guides on research - but there is still a lot more to say and a skills gap to fill.

So, in addition to writing more, I'm putting myself out there. I'm available to help bridge your knowledge gap. Ask me to talk on your podcast, speak at your conference or event or write something for your publication. I have experience of doing all of these. If you're interested, get in touch. Let's make research led design one of the most talked about themes in 2014!