There are a variety of avenues to take when venturing into the field of user experience, including in-house research teams, product design firms, and agencies. We may be biased, but here's why we think being a researcher at a UX agency is the best way to fast-track your career and gain invaluable experience.
1. Build your methodological toolkit
Working at a UX agency provides exposure to a breadth of methodologies from usability testing to ethnography to ideation workshops to card sorting. You’ll hone your skills presenting a variety of findings, and even get to dip your toes into qualitative and quantitative research regardless of your specialty!
2. Pioneer research methods for new technologies
From wearable devices to voice assistants, UX consultants work with a wide range of clients and, therefore, technologies. Instead of focusing on one product, your work will span technologies and platforms, giving you the breadth of experience you’ll need to tackle any product or service challenge.
3. Become a world-class influencer
While in-house researchers are assigned to a specific product or division, consulting researchers work with a diversity of teams. Partnering with marketers, product managers, and executives, you’ll build your understanding of each individual’s role within the larger organization, and most importantly, learn how to influence them to reach the best possible outcomes.
4. Develop your business acumen
While working with a diverse set of clients on unique business challenges, you’ll see firsthand the measures that impact leading companies and how UX can solve their needs. With clients like Google, American Express, Amazon, and FedEx, AnswerLab researchers are exposed to a variety of industries and some of the world’s most innovative brands.
5. Choose your own adventure
Agencies offer several paths to customize your work experience. For those looking to quickly see the results of their work, as a consultant, you may have a more direct impact on the success of the agency. Agencies also provide pivot points. If you are a researcher with Financial Services experience, you might bring that expertise into an agency and then have the opportunity to learn about other industries. Or, you might choose to work for an agency that focuses on a specific industry of interest.
In their own words - here are a few perspectives from AnswerLab researchers and alumni:
“At AnswerLab, I am able to conduct interdisciplinary research to directly help the company grow in the field of UX and beyond. On top of being creative and innovative with my research, I get to drive research in subject matters I'm passionate about.”
- Lin Nie, UX Researcher, AnswerLab
"Consulting offers a great opportunity for people with a growth mindset. The work is fast paced, challenging and diverse. Researchers develop a robust toolkit through their exposure to a variety of business problems, industries, technologies and research methods. That versatility serves them well no matter where their careers take them.”
- Jessica Weber, Pinterest
Former AnswerLab UX Researcher, 2010-2016
“People often remark on the fact that agency work allows you to engage with different products, challenges, methodologies, and verticals, but what has struck me is the diversity of clients I’ve had the opportunity to work with. It’s an amazing survey of organizational cultures, styles of communication, approaches to collaboration, etc.”
- Chris Geison, UX Researcher, AnswerLab
“Only a UX consultancy can offer the opportunity to work across a breadth of industries, partner with a variety of stakeholders, use a range of methodologies, and be surrounded by research experts."
- Dorienne Rosenberg, Facebook
Former AnswerLab UX Researcher, 2013-2015
“As a newcomer to the UX world, working at an agency has been an awesome bootcamp to learn the business. As a project manager, I've become an expert in complicated recruits and intricate logistics - I know what it takes to make a project happen successfully."
- Beth Devine, Project Manager, AnswerLab
AnswerLab is hiring! Visit our careers page for more information.