User research (practitioner to specialist)

Paper -

Full-time (Permanent)
£40,000 to £50,000
Published on
21 November 2021
6 December 2021

Being a researcher at Paper is about having a deep understanding of the people who use services and what they’re trying to achieve. Our goal is to bring users and the people that need to learn from them as close together as we can.

It’s an exciting time to be a user researcher, it seems more and more people see the value in what we do but there is still more to do to define our specialism and advocate for it.

Good user research supports the teams we’re working with and the people who use the services we design. You’ll be championing evidence over assumptions, creating space for users to have a voice in the design process and spotting opportunities for the team to learn where there are blind spots.

What the job is

We’re interested in meeting people with experience doing research in a variety of situations, overcoming challenges to give users a voice, and adapting to organisations of different shapes and sizes.

We hope to meet people who already have very well developed user research capabilities and your own ideas about where the specialism is headed. All that said, we also expect you to know the capabilities you still need to develop so that we can support you and learn new things together.

A typical example of our work is a recent project with the University of Sheffield to conduct their first piece of user research to help them set out the direction for future service design work for the IT services team.

Our user researchers:

  • Introduced user research to a team who hadn’t done it before.
  • Coached them on figuring out research goals, aligning the goal to their overall strategy.
  • Helped them understand which methods matched the problems and gaps in their knowledge, (in this case a mix of interviews and some usability testing).
  • Helped them figure out how to recruit a diverse sample of users for research in terms of disabilities, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status.
  • Coached their team to; observe research sessions, analyse the information we had gathered and use our findings to make design decisions.
  • Throughout the project we were regularly sharing what we found and inviting critique. At the end we collected our findings and made future recommendations to senior stakeholders.

Capabilities of a user researcher at Paper

Paper defines three levels of capability with all our specialisms. This role is open to people who are either Practitioners or Specialists.

  • Learners. You may be learning about the role and about the individual capabilities required.
  • Practitioners. You have existing experience in the role and are repeatedly practising individual capabilities.
  • Specialists. You’re refining and leading your expertise to specialise in this role and within individual capabilities.

You’ll need to be experienced, at a level of Practitioner or Specialist within these capabilities:

  • Using strategic goals when planning research
  • Experience doing research with people with diverse needs
  • Capable advocating for our discipline
  • Keeping people and their data safe and ensuring research is ethical

We would also expect that you have the following capabilities:

  • Understanding what your team needs from research
  • Choosing the right research methods and tools
  • Writing unbiased research questions
  • Facilitating research and keeping participants safe
  • Supporting other researchers in an observer role
  • Analysing research findings
  • Creating usable outputs to share with your own team and wider stakeholders
  • Working with multidisciplinary teams which include design specialisms

Nice to have experience

This experience isn’t necessary to apply for the role but do let us know if you have any experience with:

  • Central government or local authority
  • Designing and facilitating a co-design process


You might have experience with different methodologies, and you might feel that there are some methodologies you’re self conscious about not having experience of; don’t worry. At Paper we are most interested in the ability to assess each situation and come up with a research plan that’s going to be the most helpful. If that means learning a new way of doing things, great, we’ll support you.

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