This has been an extraordinary year for UX Research & Strategy (UXRS) as I imagine it has for many of you. I hope that as the year draws to an end, everyone has the opportunity for some downtime to reflect and recharge for 2024.
We’ve seen change in our industry - and more change seems to be coming
As many of you will likely remember, 2022 ended with the release of ChatGPT which set the tone for the “AI” discussion for 2023. Then came the spike in job reductions, the layoffs and the two topics of AI and job growth (or job risk) seem to have not decoupled themselves all year.
This is especially sensitive to our community which includes a large number of researchers new to the discipline. I imagine that for those who are trying to enter the field, they feel a lot of uncertainty and tension. UXRS will continue to offer networking events for those looking to build their network and find their next mentor or UX Job. We will also continue to offer free learning events for our community with continued emphasis on the methods and issues shaping the future of UX research including AI.
We’ve also seen change in our UXRS community
UXRS is still growing as a community. We continue to see strong demand each month for our free and paid events. We see similar growth in our Slack community and with engagement from the community in social media. My hypothesis is that this is both a reflection of the growth in the UX industry but I also think that there is a recognition of a need for a community of practitioners helping each other learn and grow together – which is what we aspire to do with the events we host and the content we provide.
UXRS had some phenomenal events in 2023
Speaking of learning and growing together, UXRS had an amazing year of speaker events. While we continued to host speakers who covered topics on UXR methods, we also hosted several topics covering career growth and the shifting job market.
In case you missed it, here’s a list of our 2023 speaker events:
Heidi Glynn - UX Job Market Q&A
Sheri Byrne-Haber - UXR With Participants with Disabilities
Alexis McNutt Unis - World IA Day and Participatory Research
Bindu Upadhyay - Learning from Multicultural Research Experiences
Dr. Nikki Smith - Journey Maps are Just the Output; Human-Centered Research is the input
Hang Xu - Why good UX Talent Doesn’t get Hired
Lisa Lokshina - AR Experiences in Museums: Designing for immersive Learning and Engagement
David De Leon - Brace yourselves, Here comes the UX Feedback
Tiziana d’Agostino - Empathy Is Not Enough
Farai Madzami - Designing your 1:1
QQQ: Quant/Qual/Quant - UX research Mixed-Methods workshop
Don Norman - Design For A Better World
Changes to UXRS
This has also been a year of change for UXRS organization. As a non-profit organization that is run by volunteers, there are waves of “hellos” and “goodbyes” that are to be expected as members step up and then step back as their circumstances change. In 2023, we said goodbye to some wonderful volunteers that helped us deliver on our mission in 2022 and 2023. So, our sincere thanks go out to Kelli Mijares, our former content writer, Nicole Montemurro, our former Events director, and Anthony Zablocki, our former treasurer for their volunteer work.
We have also welcomed five new volunteers to the UXRS organization in 2023. Nate Eaton, Jigz Gandhi, and Domi Miranda joined UXRS as as graphic designers. Most recently, Prajakta Amin joined UXRS as our new Social Media manager and Ayesha Tak joined us as our newest content writer.
Finally, there were some internal shuffles as earlier this year, Jen Blatz, one of the co-founders and long-standing president of UXRS, assumed a new role as Events Director and the board voted in Jake Rhodes as their new president. Emily Dahl moved onto the board as our new Community Engagement Director.
Whew! As many of you who work in HR and service design may appreciate, that’s a lot of onboarding and I’m proud of the work the team has done in rising to the challenges with all of this change. We’re lucky to have this crew on board and we look forward to working with them in 2024.
Looking forward to 2024
As I think about 2024 and beyond. I predict that we will continue to see technologies like generative AI emerge and create both opportunities and uncertainties in product making and UX research. I see our role as being an organization where practitioners can gather and learn how to best adapt our trade to this new chapter.
In our most recent UXRS satisfaction survey, respondents voted two topic areas as the most important for them in 2024:
1) UX Strategy - building advanced projects
2) Using AI for generative research
It's my hope that we can organize events that span this need in the community. I know we have some truly exciting speakers already lined up for 2024 who will cover both AI and strategic research topics .I’m looking forward to seeing the response from the community.
But no matter the changes in the technology landscape, we remain committed to our mission of making UX research and strategy topics approachable and actionable. I look forward to seeing you in the next UXRS event in 2024.
Image courtesy of Microsoft Designer. Prompt: "generate an image of a casual dinner party. Seated at the table are UX researchers dressed in lab coats, and an AI raising a cocktail as if to give a toast."
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