Rapid Research at ALIGN

If this is your first time hearing about Rapid Research. Welcome! You probably have a few clarifying questions. Jargon and terms are used frequently with changing context and meanings in our industry. In this post, we will clarify what is meant by Rapid Research at ALIGN and what we consider to be the ingredients for success.

Feleesha Sterling

February 20, 2023

Feleesha Sterling

Feleesha is the CEO of ALIGN and experienced researcher. She lives in Charlotte, NC most of the time.

Rapid Research is a process for gathering, usually tactical, responses to your research questions with speed. For us, it’s not a methodology in itself but more of a container capable of fitting multiple methodologies and approaches. We can rapidly conduct usability studies, heuristic analysis, surveys and more.  

Other groups may include methodologies, tools or objectives in their definition but that’s not our view. That takes us to the first important perspective. 

One size fits most…
Rapid Research is useful for everyone, but not all the time.  Though we believe it is useful for every team at some point - it’s not applicable all the time. It’s important to have strict criteria to identify where Rapid Research would be effective and where other methodologies might be more impactful. 

These tools and criteria are based on the limitations and opportunities of the specific program, research team and resources.  We consider things like how fast teams will be able to iterate on feedback, how much of an impact the output will have on next steps, and most importantly, we rely on our experience and solid understanding of what methods are best for what types of research.

Make, find, borrow or steal some cheerleaders
The rapid part of the title does not mean shortcuts on quality or methodology or even resources. We operate within the same exhaustive user experience research (uxr) protocols, but with a focus on scoping and planning that delivers impactful work with speed.  

If it sounds resource intensive, it’s only because it actually is. (Our model includes even more resources than your internal team would.Ask us about it) 

Support. Is. Important. (This point deserves all the drama I can muster via an article.) 

Before we begin any project, we get buy-in. We ensure stakeholders, department heads and/or  design teams are committed to the team’s success. It means varying degrees of dedicated design time, short internal interviews and a commitment to discussing and improving on challenges.

Avoiding this step is the fastest way to failure, burnout and shoddy output. Not to mention, the greatest downside of missing out on the ultimate benefit of Rapid Research in an organization -  evangelizing and exciting teams to adopt different research as part of the culture. 

Stay focused
We do one thing over and over again. Focus is a primary skill that we practice and bring to our clients.

Rapid research is a handy tool with multiple applications. Teams may think this is an opportunity to expand scope and use one resource for everything. We have clear criteria to encourage the appropriate research in the right channels to prevent biased, inappropriate, or negative signaling. 

Our narrow focus helps to craft customized solutions that fit, standardize operations and reap the benefits of conducting quick research at scale. 

Get Excited!
Finally, the last thing we are strict about is working with enthusiastic and excited UXRs.  Rapid research is conducted across teams and topics so our researchers miss out on the ultimate  rewards of exploring, learning and watching the solution of a “foundational” problem grow from their own work. 

It’s no secret that this work can start to feel routine, boring and exhausting. But it still needs to be conducted with all the checks and balances, probing and commitment afforded other teams. 

That’s why we have internal practices for our researchers to prevent burnout and make sure they show-up feeling more like 8-hours of sleep refreshed, than 8-cups of coffee wired on your next project.  

Work with us
At ALIGN we focus on rapid research as an adjustable tool with a clear range of functions and applications customized based on the specific needs of your team. 

We start by rapidly assessing your team goals and resources. Next we build a program that allows transparency into our work along the way. All so we can deliver fast, tactical insights that allow you to move your team forward with valid designs. 

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