I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of #UXFika – lightweight conversations with inspiring UX leaders, creators, and people who make a change through design.

This week’s special guest is Rachel Campbell, UX Researcher at Tesco – one of the largest UK supermarkets. Rachel is passionate about discovery research and human behavior: how it impacts the way we design experiences, products and services. I stumbled upon Rachel by seeing how she recruits users via Linkedin and thought it was a great way to engage with customers who shop in Tesco and be creative in finding people to talk to! That’s how our conversation about discovery research came along to be part of UX Fika!

How did you get into the world of UX, Rachel?

Getting into the world of UX was a pure accident. When I graduated (in geography by the way) I really didn’t know what I wanted to pursue and applied to lots of different graduate schemes. Eventually, I got into a large IT company, called ATOS. My role was in the customer experience field, so it wasn’t exactly UX, but very close to it. Fortunately, the customer experience was super fascinating – working with many different teams, applying lots of design thinking practices. That’s how I discovered User Experience and Design.

I wanted to get some different experience, so afterward I worked in a few smaller startups, where I had even broader responsibilities. In early-stage startups, you get to do a bit of everything: design, product management, lots of hands-on research. It was a huge learning for me. Eventually, I decided to specialize in the area of UX and joined Tesco.

You are currently working as a User Experience Researcher at Tesco. What does your everyday look like?

I feel very lucky to work at Tesco because every day is unique. On some days I might be running user interviews, debriefing stakeholders. Sometimes you might find me running an ideation workshop with a project team and from time to time I also have quiet days – where I have no meeting and work on research plans, strategies, presentations.

As a UX researcher, I might also be doing a competitor analysis. For example, how people buy from Amazon, even if it’s not considered a supermarket like Tesco. That’s just one example of many projects you can work as a UX Researcher at Tesco.

Prior to the pandemic, you might have even met me at Tesco supermarket conducting research, shopping along with our customers, shadowing them along different moments of a purchase journey, and learning about their habits. Sometimes I would go to our research lab, where we do usability testing, interviews.

I can speak to new people, learn continuously, and experiment. It’s lots of fun!

“personas”

Personas at Tesco

What does your team structure look like?

We have 8 UX researchers, but we are all split out in different projects and teams. So for example I work in the online shopping project together with 4 UX designers. My fellow UX Researchers might work on the club card project (the loyalty program at Tesco) or other types of projects. We all meet once a week and sync together, bounce ideas on how we do research. However on a daily basis have different focus areas, which gives good independence and flexibility.

We also have a customer insight and analytics team – they do more quantitative studies, run surveys, inform us of data. So sometimes we work with them to support our research and qualitative studies.

How do you do User Research at Tesco? Can you share some interesting bits of your work and what are the most important pillars of a successful research project?

My projects vary quite a lot, but sometimes I might be looking at an existing feature on the website or the app, other days – building a completely new customer proposition and customer service. So one of the great things at Tesco UX team is that we do research at almost every stage of the user journey. Therefore I will be in the projects at the beginning when we try to scope out what do users need, what the actual problem is we are trying to solve. That’s when discovery research starts. At the end of the project I participate in prototype testing with users and continuously challenge myself and the team: are we sure we are designing the right thing?

“personas”

Journey Mapping at Tesco UX Team
What has been interesting this year with the pandemic is that customer behavior has changed quite drastically, especially when it comes to shopping habits online. So we had to move quite fast with some of our projects and do quicker, dirty research rather than super detailed research that we were used to.

I am always a big fan of stakeholder engagement: they can really help shape the research project and give feedback along the way. I am always encouraging stakeholders to come and observe all the interviews I am doing, so they can hear first hand from the customers. They will be more likely to take your recommendations into a consideration this way. Therefore I would strongly argue for involving stakeholders early if you want your research to be actionable and successful.

One big part of your job is discovery research. How would you define it?

I love discovery research! How would I define it? For me, it’s the first phase in the UX Design process – when you try to understand the problem, uncover unknown user needs, habits and problems to be solved. The aim of the discovery phase is always to simply build a deeper understanding of your target audience.

Ethnographic research plays a very important role in discovery research. That’s when you study customers in their natural habitats. For example, at Tesco, we would do home visits on how the customer does online shopping, how they receive an online delivery to home. That could also mean running a diary study over a longer period of time. If you do these types of observational studies, you start discovering patterns or workarounds that people do.

Did pandemic change the way you do discovery research this year? If yes – how?

It has been difficult to do real ethnographic research and we really had to adapt our methods because of the pandemic in order to still get the insights we need.

Therefore I started doing more customer journey mapping exercises remotely. To illustrate it, I just share my screen, where I have an interactive whiteboard and we go through a day of delivery or another sort of experience together with the user. This has worked quite well so far. I managed to pinpoint many challenges customers face. Sometimes if you do an interview and simply ask questions – it is more difficult for people to connect their answers to the whole shopping experience.

I remember when the lockdown was announced, I had research interviews scheduled and had to re-plan everything to happen online instead. It was very stressful and doing remote research so suddenly was definitely not an easy challenge to tackle. However, I discovered many benefits. We used to do lots of interviews with people from London and now we realize it has been a huge bias in our research. People in London are very different from users in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Their habits are different. Their fridges might be very different. They have different tastes. Since we adapted more remote research methods, we can speak to people all around the UK and understand various regions much better.

I also understood people are much more comfortable doing interviews from their homes. When we do studies in our lab, the customers might be intimidated by cameras all around. It doesn’t feel homey. And if you start a conversation just like this, over a cup of coffee – people share more, they even show their house, introduce me to their pets.

How does discovery research differ from UX research?

I think that discovery research is as big and important part of UX research as user testing, evaluative research, or final prototype testing. In order to know that we are designing the right experiences for our customers, we need to talk to the users in the very early stages of the customer journey. So the discovery research really makes sure that we are solving real problems for our customers and not building new ones.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to enter the discovery research field?

Go and talk to your users and start grouping your findings. Share it with stakeholders and start practicing communicating with them. It will definitely help throughout your career.

What do you think will be different in doing discovery research in 5 years?

Hopefully, in 5 years’ time Coronavirus will be a distant memory and we will be able to meet people face to face. In terms of discovery research – I hope we will find new creative ways of doing ethnographic research. If we can find a remote way of doing ethnographic research – then we can do discovery research around the world without unnecessary traveling and costs. Doing international and cross-cultural research would become much more accessible and possible for the research community. That would be great.

Extra bits

Your favorite recent read:

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. It has very practical, funny advice on how to focus on positive, manage negative thoughts, and the famous imposter syndrome. It helped me to understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, and how to be a badass all the time.

Which user experience have you recently truly enjoyed?

I have a very old dog (13 years) and recently I started using Pets app: which allows to adapt a completely remote dog treatment for my pet. I can get more medicine, prescriptions and have all information in one place. You can also video conference with a doctor, pay bills. It makes everything much easier! It completely transformed my way of dealing with vets.

Your biggest learning this year:

Not everything goes according to plan. I’ve learnt to relax a bit and go with a flow. No matter what happens, it will somehow work out.

About the UX Fika Series

In UX Fika series of blog posts, I talk with people that inspire me and whom I look up to as my role-models. The motivation behind doing this is, you might see some patterns and hopefully you’d be able to learn from the amazing people that I have had a chance of learning from.

For my international friends, FIKA is a Swedish concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea). With no rush, full immersion and being present in the moment. That’s why I thought “UXFika” is a perfect name for meaningful conversation with UX leaders I look up to.

UX Fika with Katja Kolmetz on Personal Leadership

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about topics relevant to UX’ers, Designers, and curious people....

read more

UX Fika with Erik Lindahl on Customer Journey Mapping

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Vanessa Macedo on Design Research

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Frida Morberg on Conversion and UX

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Josue Martinez on Design Ops

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project...

read more

UX Fika with Anjana Menon on UX Copy

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow UX professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a...

read more

UX Fika with Chris Roy on building a design culture

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Michaela Zetterström on User Testing

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading stories, experiences, and ways of working. That’s why I have started a...

read more

UX Fika with Josh Lenn on Failing Gloriously

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading stories, experiences... and failures. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Gustav Stenbeck on sustainable development

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX FIKA with Hampus Sethfors on Accessibility

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Michael Stausholm on Sustainable Design

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow leaders and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of...

read more

UX Fika with Stefan Twerdochlib on building UX vision

I believe in starting a conversation with fellow UX professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a...

read more

UX Fika with Dora Palfi on diversity in the tech world

UX Fika series was launched with the goal of bringing more voices into the conversation around UX. However today I will make a special exception. On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I wanted to feature a special talk with an inspiring young...

read more

Want to take part in UX Fika and share your story?

I always proactively get in touch with industry leaders and interesting people! If you would like to have a Fika with me, get in touch. Drop me a message here.

*Usual reply time: 1-2 days

14 + 15 =