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  • Writer's pictureTiffany

Starting a Research Function at a StartUp - Speaker at Research Conference

I was the second UX Research hire at Mercari US. In May 2024, the founding UXR (Thea) and I spoke at the Research Conference in Japan ( to 2000+ attendees (including online attendees) about how we started our UXR function at Mercari, and how we matured with scale. Our presentation was simultaneously translated in Japanese and gained strong engagement from the audience.

For those who are interested in the thorough details of the presentation content, please reach out to me at

To summarize the takeaways from the presentation...

I. Establishing a research practice

  • Previous to introduction of UXR function, PMs and designers took on the role of conducting user research and designing surveys to get customer input.

  • While not many had clear idea of what could be done, there was a lot of appetite for customer input in general.

  • 1) Clarity on what we do

    • strategic vs. tactical research

    • types of questions answered by UXR

    • types of methods used -- quantitative vs. qualitative methods

    • how it fits into the double diamond design process

    • How a researcher executes a study (cycle of research)

  • 2) Determine the biggest knowledge gap

    • stakeholder interviews to understand how each function works together, where the most business context was missing, what folks felt they did and did not know about product experience

  • 3) Guide Stakeholders to make meaning 4) Create research roadmap

    • Post-report workshop where stakeholders wrote out their takeaways, remaining questions, and ideas to consider

II. Maturity with Scale

  • Document foundational customer information -- e.g. diary study and journey mapping

  • Build a culture around operational excellence -- e.g. project templates for consistency and standards to project execution, building of participant panel to quickly recruit pre-qualified participants

  • Develop holistic measurement capabilities -- e.g. standing up benchmarking program

  • Advance UX through specialized studies -- e.g. information architecture initiative in partnership with content team.

III. Continuous learning

  • Peer review for multiple reviewers at multiple checkpoints in a study to maintain a high bar of excellence

  • Learning while working full-time by taking classes on behavioral analytics together, running lunch & learn sessions between researchers to learn from each other's expertise; weekly, optional researcher office hours

  • Team prioritizing joining remote conferences together, then taking notes and sharing takeaways.



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