9-11 May 2018

thestudio, Manchester

How research can help us communicate better

Session type:
Case Study

Session duration:
45 minutes

Presented by:

Gillian MacDonald

Co-op Digital

About this Case Study

Research isn’t always about usability testing - it’s about understanding your users; understanding the contexts they’re using products and services in; understanding the networks that connect businesses with users so we can build proper feedback loops.

I’m going to talk about the importance of doing research within an agile team. I’m also going to talk about how it is doubly important to do research when you are an agile team working with a large, traditional, waterfall-style business.

I work for Co-op Digital as a user researcher. Over the last year, I’ve been on an agile product team working with our food business on a project looking at how we could invest in and build services and products that make our food store colleagues’ lives easier. I’m going to tell you about that process and what I’ve learned doing research on it along the way.

This session is about how we learned that you can’t separate product research and organisational culture research. When your users are your colleagues, you need to understand properly how the whole business works to understand how the people at “the top” (head office), relate and communicate with the users “in the field” - in our case, in the stores.

Topics I will cover include:
  • what doing research in a food store looks like
  • the challenges of being an agile team working with a traditionally waterfall business
  • communicating to your business the importance of researching to properly understand your users
  • the importance of the whole team going out and doing research
  • the challenges of doing internal research
  • how research taught us that we need to clearly communicate to our internal users what trials and tests are and why we’re doing them
  • how research can allow you to understand and use communication channels within an organisation

About the Speaker

Gillian MacDonald is a user researcher at Co-op Digital. Her job is to make sure that teams understand the users they are building services and products for, and to help build up research and critical thinking skills along the way.

Previously she’s worked for research agencies and institutes across Europe, in a variety of multi-disciplinary teams covering a wide range of topics. She tends to get itchy feet easily, and has a keen interest for food research and hand crafting.


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