Hi, I’m Julie Maybury, a user researcher at DWP Digital, soon to be based in our new Manchester hub. I’ve been working in this role for nearly two years now.
Before that I’ve had what I think the experts call a ‘portfolio career’ – which means that I’ve moved from teaching history, through information management to becoming a user researcher.
I find that many of my colleagues in the user research team have similar varied backgrounds and I think this diversity is part of what makes the team so strong and respected in the organisation.
I started my user research career many years ago in Graduate Prospects, then I moved to the BBC before coming to work at DWP. Throughout this period so many people have been user research role models to me that I could end up writing a book and thanking everyone right down to the cat, in a truly Oscar-style performance! So, with this in mind I’ve chosen three people who have defined me as a user researcher…
Some things never go out of fashion
I was recently told that it was somewhat passé to admire Jakob Nielsen – but having never been a follower of fashion I continue in my adoration and avidly read the articles from the Nielsen Norman Group on my phone as I travel home on the train (its amazing what you can learn in 15 minutes). However, he’s not only my role model because of the knowledge he imparts but because he and his team are always willing to question their fundamental assumptions – have a look at the Nielson Norman Group articles.
Great female role models who inspire
I first saw Jane Murison speaking at a Ladies that UX meeting in Manchester. There she stood with a pint in her hand telling us about the biggest mistakes she’d made – not something that I’ve heard many people in Jane’s position (Head of UX&D for Knowledge and Learning, Children’s, Design Research and UXA at BBC) do. However, what I really remember her talking about was the most difficult thing she’d ever done; returning to work after her second child. So, when I was later offered a job at the BBC I was able to contact her to chat about my fears of managing in the workplace as a mum. Now I work at DWP there are many great female role models who continue to inspire me – see Fivi’s great blogpost on the importance of female role models in the digital space. These female role models give me the confidence I need to challenge long-held assumptions, and know that I will be listened to.
New boy on the block
I’ll bet if this photo came up in a pub quiz no one would guess who this was – even the user researchers! He’s a relatively new role-model for me. His name is Jesper Kjeldskov and he’s made me question whether or not mobile design research should be done in the field or in the lab. He suggests that rather than concentrate solely on ‘snapshot’ testing of products in the lab, it’s important to take a more long-term approach that allows us to fully understand the complexities around the context in which mobile devices are used. If you want to find out more have a look at his paper Was it Worth the Hassle? Ten Years of Mobile HCI Research Discussions on Lab and Field Evaluations.
My role models remind me that it doesn’t matter how much I know and how long I’ve been researching, working as a user researcher requires me to challenge my assumptions – and this is part of what makes the job so stimulating.
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