Now available: Design for Impact by Erin Weigel

The People Project


I’ve always been impressed by people and organizations that value transparency. And I’ve tried to make it a cornerstone of how Rosenfeld Media does business.

As a brand attribute, transparency sounds great. But as a way for a company to behave, it’s much more complicated, and even a little painful. It means publicly admitting when stuff goes wrong, and occasionally acknowledging your own ignorance or impotence.

Allow me to be painfully transparent: given the field we’re in, you’d expect Rosenfeld Media to be a completely user research-driven company.

And you’d be wrong.

Like many small companies?—?and even some large ones?—?we’ve made the same excuses that we begrudge our consulting clients: not enough time, staff, or budget.

Well, it’s time to call bullshit. No more excuses.

So we’re starting a new thing called The People Project. It’s a lean user research program that makes sense for a tiny company like ours. And we’ll report on it— transparently—right here on our site. That way you’ll see?—?and hopefully learn from?—?what we’re discovering.

We’re centering our research on the actionable questions?—?some big, some small?—?that directly address what people need and want most from us. We’re leaning on our roster of Rosenfeld Media UX experts to guide us when we get stumped answering these questions along the way.

And we’re emphasizing practical tools and iterative approaches over grand methods. After all, we’re in the business of UX expertise, not medical devices or Martian rovers.

I’m so excited that Rosenfeld Media is finally becoming truly user research-driven—and a little relieved. It’ll be hard, but the hardest part is, as they say, recognizing that you have a problem. Nice to check that off the list. Of course, we’re certainly not the first organization to share our user research. In fact, our biggest inspiration is the amazing UX team at MailChimp; you should really subscribe to their newsletter to see what they’re learning.

I’m especially proud of Elaine Matthias and Stephanie Zhong for pushing this forward; you’ll be hearing directly from them along the way.

Speaking of which, we’ll be posting what we learn right here. We’ll also tweet about what we’ve learned via @rosenfeldmedia.

If you’re finding this interesting or even inspiring, let us know by commenting below. In fact, if your small organization is doing something similar, would you mind sharing a bit about what you’ve learned?