Not sure how many people can say that they love their job, but I truly love what I do – helping to uncover the ways people interact with products and suggesting how to make things easier to use.
As a researcher who focuses primarily on usability, I am constantly amazed at what I learn from respondents. At the start of each project, I spend time reviewing the stimulus (e.g., website, app, device, etc.) to become familiar with it and to develop the tasks and discussion guide I will use in the research interviews. A natural part of that process is guessing what the stumbling blocks are going to be. Here’s the part that I find fascinating, and it happens in nearly every single study: the users constantly amaze me! I love conducting the first test session in a study – seeing how an actual user goes through the process of navigating, reactions to design and layout, interpretations of labels and buttons and links. Invariably, study respondents, who by default fit the profile of the target population, surprise me with their actions and comments. That’s why l love what I do – because it’s fun for me to learn new things and I can pass those learnings along to my clients so that they can make improvements that make their users happier and more productive.
Take it from someone who conducts usability research for a living – there is no substitute for talking with actual users. I will always advocate that doing any research is better than doing none at all, but nothing beats sitting down with users in the target audience and watching them use your product. Even when you think of yourself as an “expert,” I guarantee that they will teach you something you didn’t know.