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UX Research

UX research at GitLab

The goal of UX research at GitLab is to connect with GitLab users all around the world and gather insight into their behaviors, motivations, and goals when using GitLab. We use these insights to inform and strengthen product and design decisions.

UX Researchers aren't the only GitLabbers who conduct user research. Other roles, like Product Managers and Product Designers, frequently conduct research too with guidance from the UX research team.

Research methods

We use a wide variety of research methods that include (but are not limited to):

Research tools

Product Managers, Product Designers and UX Researchers have access to the following tools:

Qualtrics: CoreXM with TextiQ - Used for surveys, screening surveys and contacting members of GitLab First Look. To request access to Qualtrics, please open an access request and assign the issue to your manager for approval. Once approved, please assign the issue to @sarahj. For further information about Qualtrics, including how to create and style your survey, please visit Qualtrics tips & tricks.

Mural - For online brainstorming, synthesis and collaboration. Please reach out to a UX Design Manager, Christie Lenneville or Sarah Jones for access.

Calendly - For scheduling research sessions with users. A basic plan (free) is usually adaquate for Product Managers and Designers. UX Researchers are entitled to a Premium account. Should you wish to upgrade your Calendly account to Premium, please contact @sarahj.

Zoom Pro Account - We use Zoom to run usability testing sessions and user interviews. All new team members at GitLab automatically receive a Zoom Pro account.

OptimalWorkshop - Used for card sorts and tree testing. We do not have an ongoing subscription to OptimalWorkshop. We purchase a monthly license as and when required.

How to find existing research

How we decide what to research

UX Researchers collaborate with Product Managers to determine the scope of research studies. Where possible, UX Researchers should try to attend planning meetings for their designated groups.

UX Researchers should proactively offer ways in which they can assist in the delivery of research. They should also suggest and discuss their own ideas for research studies with Product Managers.

How UX Researchers operate at GitLab

  1. Assign yourself to any issues you are leading or supporting.

  2. Re-organize your issues in the UX Research board as appropriate
    • Doing = issues you are working on right now.
    • To Do = issues you plan to tackle in the near future.
    • Blocked= issues you can't proceed with as you're waiting on feedback from someone else.
    • Backlog = issues that haven't yet been scheduled.
    • Try to order by priority (top down).
    • Aim to update the board at least once a week.
  3. Add a weight to every Problem validation research issue.
    • 1 = Trivial
    • 2 = Small
    • 3 = Medium
    • 5= Large
    • 8 = Huge
    • 13 = Gigantic
  4. Proactively contact your Product Director, and ask them to prioritize your issues. Inform your Product Director of your capacity based on your historic velocity. This may be more effective as a Zoom call at first, rather than async.

  5. Move any issues which are not prioritized into your Backlog.

How UX Research and Product Management work together on problem validation research (single-stage-group initiatives)

  1. Follow the initial steps outlined in the Product handbook.

For user interviews

  1. Product Manager drafts the discussion guide. When a first draft of the guide is complete, the UX Researcher reviews and provides feedback.

  2. Simultaneously, the UX Researcher begins crafting a screening survey in Qualtrics.

  3. After the screening survey is created, the UX Researcher will open a Recruiting request issue using the available template in the UX Research project and assign it to the relevant Research Coordinator.

  4. The Research Cordinator will perform a sense check to make sure your screener will catch the people you’ve identified as your target participants. If there are multiple rounds of review, the Coordinator will pause activities until uncertainty about your screening criteria has been resolved.

  5. By default, Product Managers are responsible for leading (moderating) problem validation interviews with users. If the study is complex in nature, a UX Researcher may volunteer to moderate. UX Researchers have the discretion to decide which research studies they will moderate and which they will observe synchronously or asynchronously.

  6. The person who is leading the interviews, and who has subsequently supplied their Calendly link to the Research Coordinator, is responsible for forwarding user interview invites to the UX Research calendar (gitlab.com_kieqv96j35mpt8bdkcbriu2qbg@group.calendar.google.com) and any other interested parties (Product Designers, Product Managers, UX Researchers, etc).

  7. After the interviews are concluded, the UX Researcher updates the Recruiting request. The Research Coordinator will reimburse participants for their time (payment occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

  8. Product Manager and UX Researcher work collaboratively to synthesize the data and identify trends, resulting in findings.

  9. UX Researcher creates issues in the UXR_Insights project documenting the findings.

  10. UX Researcher updates the Problem validation research issue with links to findings in the UXR_Insights project and, if applicable, unmarks the Problem validation research issue as confidential before closing it.

For surveys

  1. Product Manager drafts the survey. When a first draft of the survey is complete, the UX Researcher reviews and provides feedback.

  2. The UX Researcher enters the survey in Qualtrics.

  3. Once the survey has been entered into Qualtrics, the UX Researcher opens a Recruiting request issue using the available template in the UX Research project and assigns it to the relevant Research Coordinator.

  4. The Research Coordinator distributes the survey to a sample of participants.

  5. The UX Researcher, will review the responses received so far and amend the survey if necessary. The UX Researcher should advise the Research Coordinator when to continue recruitment.

  6. The UX Researcher will keep the Research Coordinator informed of the survey's response rate and must notify them when they plan to close the survey (to ensure recruitment doesn't continue on a survey that has been closed).

  7. After the survey is closed, the UX Researcher updates the Recruiting request issue. The Research Coordinator will reimburse selected participants for their time (payment occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

  8. Product Manager and UX Researcher work collaboratively to synthesize the data and identify trends, resulting in findings.

  9. UX Researcher creates issues in the UXR_Insights project documenting the findings.

  10. UX Researcher updates the Problem validation research issue with links to findings in the UXR_Insights project and, if applicable, unmarks the Problem validation research issue as confidential before closing it.

How UX Researchers work together on problem validation research (multi-stage-group initiatives)

Note: A Lead UX Researcher is the person who devises the research brief and provides an initial outline of the study's goals and hypotheses. A Lead UX Researcher can hold any level of seniority and experience, from Research Coordinator to Staff UX Researcher. The Lead UX Researcher is the DRI for the research study. They should communicate that they are the DRI during stakeholder meetings and within research issues.

  1. Lead UX Researcher meets with the relevant PM(s), fellow UX Researcher(s), Research Coordinator(s) and UX Research Manager to discuss the goals of the study and the hypotheses they have. The purpose of this meeting is to get buy-in from all stakeholders. If a stakeholder is unable to attend the meeting, record the session, and allow them the opportunity to provide their feedback asynchronously.

  2. Lead UX Researcher creates an issue using the Problem Validation template.

  3. Lead UX Researcher applies the ~"workflow::problem validation" label to the associated issue; this automatically removes the ~"workflow::validation backlog" label.

  4. Lead UX Researcher fills out an opportunity canvas to the best of their ability. Ensure the problem and persona is well articulated and add the opportunity canvas to the issue's Designs. Note that you should include content for the solution and go-to-market sections, possibly with low confidence; this section may be likely to change, but thinking it through will help clarify your thoughts.

  5. Lead UX Researcher opens a Problem validation research issue using the available template in the UX Research project. Once completed, assigns the issue to the relevant UX Researcher(s).

  6. Follow the steps outlined for user interviews or surveys. However, for multi-stage-group initiatives, the Lead UX Researcher should take responsibility for all steps outlined in the user interview or survey process, for example, writing a discussion guide. They are welcome to delegate responsibilities to other UX Researchers should they need assistance.

  7. Lead UX Researcher meets with the relevant PM(s), UX Researcher(s) and UX Research Manager to discuss findings and next steps.

    The Lead UX Researcher may be required to:

    1. Finalize the opportunity canvas with the synthesized feedback.

    2. Present the opportunity canvas to Scott Williamson, Christie Lenneville, and the relevant Product Director(s).

Solution validation

Solution validation research at GitLab is led by Product Designers, with support from UX Design Managers. Occassionally, UX Design Managers may need to escalate queries about solution validation research to UX Researchers for advice and feedback. UX Researchers are not responsible for leading solution validation research efforts.

How to request research

Any GitLabber can open a research request. If you are not a Product Manager, Product Designer, or UX Researcher, please open a Research request issue using the available template in the UX Research project. Once completed, please assign the issue to the relevant Product Manager, Product Designer and UX Researcher. The team will review your issue and notify you when/if they plan to proceed with the work.

Milestones

Like other departments at GitLab, UX Researchers follow the Product Development Timeline and use milestones to schedule their work. Milestones change monthly, find out the dates for upcoming milestones.

Training resources

If you're new to conducting user research or just want a refresher, please refer to the UX research training resources to help you get started.

Product Designers and Product Managers should complete the Research Shadowing process during their onboarding to gain an understanding of how research is conducted at GitLab.

UX Research label

Both the GitLab CE project and GitLab EE project contain a UX Research label. The purpose of this label is to help Product Designers and Product Managers keep track of issues which they feel may need UX Research support in the future or which are currently undergoing UX Research.

UX Researchers are not responsible for maintaining the UX Research label. The UX Research label should not be used to request research from UX Researchers.