A brief history of UX

Since Don Norman coined the phrase ‘user experience’ in the 90’s, UX has now become a common term that is highly valued by organisations. As the importance of UX has become more prominent, there has been a gradual incorporation of design and research into organisations.

In the 00’s designers adapted their skillset to incorporate UX / UI principles and deliver websites that improved the experience. Most of the time organisations would still be outsourcing design work to agencies, but this changed as designers moved in house. This was triggered to a large extent when the GDS was formed in April 2011

Gradually the design profession matured and segmented into the many different types of designers we have today, with a great many working in-house.

UX research

I think that user experience research was a little slower to react. Wind back just ten years and most user researchers were in agencies (usually design agencies) or in tech/eCommerce companies. It was very rare to find a specialist user researcher within mainstream commercial organisations in the UK.

But things have changed dramatically and it is now common for user research to be a distinct function within UK organisations, alongside the more established design and MR function. Research is undergoing a shift to become much more prominent as the board is more customer-centric than ever before.

And just as the design profession segmented, researchers are now expected to specialise in different types of user research. Just looking at a few of the research job specs on LinkedIn, there are distinctions made between UX, UI, discovery, service design, testing, analytics…

Why not use a research agency?

The main reason for this post is to advocate using research agencies like Clicked for research. As more and more organisations move user research in-house there is a tendency not to use agencies when research can be run internally. I guess there are many reasons for this…

  • No budget. There’s no cash allocated to research
  • No need. You can cover everything internally
  • Too expensive. You know how much research costs and agencies are usually expensive
  • Loss of control. You prefer doing it yourself
  • The nervousness of quality. You’re nervous that an agency wouldn’t do it as well as you would

There are probably a lot more.

But here are ten reasons why in-house researchers/designers should work with research agencies:

  • Avoiding research ops costs and headaches. It’s always the most painful element of the process, right? Agencies take all that pain away
  • Free up time to interpret the insights. Researchers should spend more time analysing results instead of setting up projects
  • Benefit from qualitative and quantitative specialism. You may be a shit-hot user researcher, but can you design a tracking study?
  • Benefit from wide expertise. Agencies have wide category expertise providing you with a fresh perspective.
  • Impartiality. If you are an in-house designer doing research you will benefit from an agency’s impartiality. Even if you are a researcher, you may have company bias.
  • Reach non-users. You can easily reach customers, but what about prospects?
  • Run international research. Clicked runs international research using a network of researchers.
  • Filling in when you need a holiday. No explanation required here…!
  • Doing those projects that you hate. Your dislikes may be the challenges we enjoy.
  • Working in a team. The benefits of different points of view, deeper analysis, and the support of experts!

I’m hoping that you see the benefits of using an agency like Clicked when you need to. I like to think that we can slot in when you need us to, making your life easier and freeing up researchers to do a better job.

If you would like to get in touch, please contact us here.