Should you do the UX research yourself, or hire an agency? , by Caitlin D. Sullivan | October, 2022

The advantages and disadvantages of these two options — plus a third you may have overlooked

UX Research: Do It Yourself, or Hire an Agency?  pros and cons of each

The number at the end of the agency’s proposal was over one million euros,

I was on the floor.

A client of mine sent me an offer from the latest research consulting firm to help me find a new market. Of the handful of advisors my client was evaluating, it was by far the largest. but one million euros Highest rate I have ever seen for new market research.

My client asked me to evaluate the proposals so far and give them advice.

Should he accept any one proposal and accept the huge budget? Or should they find a way to do the research themselves?

For young companies and those with young design teams, this is a difficult decision. It’s hard to know unless someone on the team has prior experience with this scenario. How To make the right choice.

I’ve worked in UX Research, UX Design and Strategy for 12 years, and have seen my share of agency proposals. I have worked on behalf of the agency – having been a line-item in a proposal myself – as well as selecting in-house, external partners.

Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons that I find most helpful in guiding teams toward the right decision for them.

Benefits of doing your own UX research:

Disadvantages of doing your UX research from the start:

  • it is probable really time consuming. Do you know how long it takes to plan a research study, recruit just the right audience, then complete it? Whatever coworkers you believe they have time to do a new piece of UX research, they probably don’t.
  • Taking on UX research means managing more tasks that you and your team may not (yet) know how to manage effectively. ,“You have to support each UXer’s focus, tasks, allocation, goals, and career development just as you do for other roles, even if it’s a new discipline for you,” says Erin Young of Slide UX.
  • It has a long learning curve, and you won’t end up with reliable insights right away. There is a very high chance of doing something wrong the first time. You may not know the techniques that ensure high reliability in planning, moderating and analysis. It’s also easier to focus on the needs of wrong customer when starting.
  • You will have to recruit all your participants yourself. One of the biggest annoyances of UX researchers Recruitment, Even when it seems easy to track an audience, it is not always easy to persuade them to engage in research. This is especially true for non-customers and B2B audiences who feel that spending time with a service they don’t use doesn’t make any sense to them.
  • There is significant bias among internal team members because of their proximity to the product and the relationships they report with the stakeholders. As the team at Outwitly explains, “It can sometimes be too difficult for internal UX teams to facilitate meaningful top-down discussions and stakeholder interviews with their own bosses and executives.”

Benefits of hiring an agency to do your UX research:

  • This might It should be done much faster than you can do yourself. You don’t need to allocate your time or any team member first learn how to Do UX research, and then plan, implement, analyze, package, and share the research.
  • You have a partner or team of people who are experienced in conducting highly reliable research. In theory, you get to avoid the fear of doing the wrong thing, or calling attention to the wrong customer input.
  • The agency may have specialized expertise in your industry or type of business. The team can get used to doing the same projects as you. They may have expertise in the same industry or service sector as you. They may also be able to draw insights from previous studies.
  • The burden of legal challenges and proper procedures is on them. As Sabina Idler of UXKids writes, “Doing your own research … can not only be very frustrating, it can also get you in trouble…”, for example, “when testing with minors You have to take into account legal issues” and potentially other sensitive customer groups.

Disadvantages of hiring an agency to do your UX research:

  • not you really Being hands-off – they lead you. You still have to tell them what to do, which takes a lot more time and communication than you expect.
  • Leaning on an agency drives the business value down. If your startup team wants more investment, plans to sell or exit, this is not ideal. Larger consultancy firms make it their business to have teams like yours rely on them for insight. But if a startup relies on an agency for insight, it may not know how to convince its clients without it.
  • You may not get to delegate all the recruitment tasks to an agency. That pesky, time-consuming hiring step isn’t just handed over when you hire an agency. If existing customer are targeted participants, an agency may require your support and permission to recruit its own users.
  • Research agencies charge an additional premium fee, and add roles you don’t need. They put together large teams even for small projects. Offers include “strategic partners” and “consultants” for hundreds per hour. Such roles are not necessary for new market exploration or for most other UX research.

work with Independent UX Research Freelancers or consultants who can guide you on the right track to starting UX research can speed up the process of conducting research yourself – and doing it well.

The downside can be similar to agency work: If they can’t help your team learn how to research, they leave and take your team’s only insight processes with them.

Look for someone who can do the following four things:

  1. they can work with you do basic research So your team gets a solid understanding of who your customers are, and what they need from you right away.
  2. they can do teach you how to conduct your research With a simple initialization framework. They have a process and templates for you to research yourself in just a few weeks.
  3. they involve you in the research process, Before they start teaching you how to do UX research yourself, they may invite you to live sessions with users as a supervisor, and join you in workshops to analyze results together .
  4. they Can scale if needed, They have a network of other highly experienced freelancers with relevant industry expertise who can jump in to help them get more work done based on need.

All three options for introducing your team’s insight-aggregation have their advantages and disadvantages.

It is important to note that this is often not the case when agencies are expected to bear the full burden of time and effort, although they can eliminate many of the biases as outsiders and they may have a deep knowledge of the industry.

While it usually takes more effort and time to lead research internally when starting out, the value remains intrinsic as you own your insight processes and learn how to improve them over time.

An experienced UX Research Consultant can save you time, money and teach your team how to do research right from the start. But depending on the advisor, they may take their expertise with them, and this may not be a long-term solution for your team. A List Apart has a useful article that covers the internal conditions of the company and the project types that are best suited to enlist the help of outside consultants.

Before choosing between these options it’s important to be clear about which objectives are most important to your team. Whether it is a priority to teach the internal team for research, the fastest possible delivery of insights now, gather the most reliable insights with the least bias, benefit from outside industry expertise, maintain company value, or some of the What is a combination of objectives?

The best solution for one team may not be the best for the next. Before jumping into a project with an agency, internal team member, or consultant, taking the time to fully assess your team’s near-term and long-term goals with UX research work will help you get on the right track. Will help.

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