Field research to Jambi to understand the last mile community. Photo by Somia CX

Designers, mostly known, work behind their desks: fiddling pixels, arranging wireframes, creating a new color palette, or capturing new trends from each “inspirational website”. The pride we take from having the title designer, somewhat make us too confident and tend to work inside the bubble, that we don’t know when will burst.

This may have worked in the past. But today, where design is growing rapidly and people’s appetite toward design is increasing, creating a more impactful product that solves user’s problems is more critical than ever. And designers, as problem solvers should not sit calmly waiting for insights to be presented to them. Designers have to be more aggressive and be involved more in the research process to have a deeper understanding of their users.

But, don’t we already have UX researchers to help? Why not let them do their job and just…wait? While that seems easier to do, there are several reasons why you, as designers, should join the research phase:

1. Contextual Understanding

Experiencing the research, hearing users’ feedback, and feeling their pain firsthand on the field are far more efficient than reading hundreds of pages of research findings. Moreover, you will be exposed to not only what the user says and what they do but also the context, the reason they do something. It is vital since most people do differently than what they say. These experiences will help you know your users more.

Tried to stop my knee from shaking too hard. Photo by Somia CX

2. Complete Skills

By exposing themselves to research, designers can also build crucial skills most designers lack: asking the right questions and gaining empathy. Possessing these skills will make you more thoughtful when designing the product in the future. You will also become more independent and capable to conduct your research (e.g guerilla usability testing).

3. Richer perspectives

Of course, you can’t do it all alone. In more complex research, having UX researchers in your team is a must. But with our limited capacity as a human, having a more diverse composition could be a game-changer. Imagine having a research team consists of a product manager, designer, and researcher. Wouldn’t it awesome?

When doing research, the researcher could be more focus on the latent needs of the users, product manager could focus more how it impacts the whole system of the product (and the business) and you, as a designer, could sharpen your mind and focus more on the actionable insights and how your product can be improved to satisfy user needs.

How could you understand them if you never meet them? Photo by Somia CX

4. Faster Iteration

At the end of each research session, new findings will come up. Maybe it’s not breathtaking, but sometimes it is good enough to give you the cue for improvement. Either to add new buttons or to skip one page during the registration flow. Having a designer joined the session makes it easier for your team to refine the prototype right away and make it ready for the next round testing.

Today, users are the center of the universe. They will easily uninstall your app or throw away your product if it is too difficult or just take more time to understand. They become the babies of our time where their demand is our command. So, let’s not get siloed by our titles and be more willing to jump to the field.

To fail fast and learn.