Illustration of a person stepping up a bar chart.
Illustration of a person stepping up a bar chart.
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni

Since becoming a manager and leader, I’ve had the privilege of access to information and vantage points I didn’t have as an individual contributor. I’ve seen the inner workings of performance review cycles and how promotions are decided. It’s also given me a broader view of people, their skills and behaviours in the workplace, and how those influence their likelihood for promotion. The aim of this post is to empower and inform frustrated individual contributors who want to progress to senior and leadership levels and are struggling to do so, and might not know why they’re stuck.

I recognise this…

Puzzle piece being fitted with others.
Puzzle piece being fitted with others.

Three years ago, I joined Monzo as the first user researcher in the Design team. We were just five people and autonomous product squads hadn’t yet been formed. There were about 120 people in the whole company and we had around 400k customers on a prepaid card. It felt like being on a roller coaster rolling out of the station and picking up speed. A few weeks later, we started migrating all our customers to the banking app we’d just built, unlocked a new round of investor funding and hit hypergrowth. At our peak, we were on-boarding between 40–50 new…

Research is an important part of how we build things at Monzo. It’s our mission to make money work for everyone, and the only way we can do that is by understanding people’s wants and needs. Researchers typically work in product teams that are made of different professions, from designers, product managers and software engineers, to writers, marketers and business analysts. And all these different people might have a different level of understanding of the problem space they’re working in. In this post we’ll explain how we make the things we learn through research memorable for everyone who works here.

Illustration of an upside-down top hat with a magic wand above it, and sparkles.
Illustration of an upside-down top hat with a magic wand above it, and sparkles.

Presenting research findings can be challenging

We’re growing the user research practice at Monzo so every product team has support from a researcher. But we’re growing so fast that it’s a challenge to hire and onboard new joiners quick enough. Instead of pausing projects while we wait for new researchers, everyone working on the Monzo app is encouraged to do their own research if they don’t have a dedicated user researcher.

This might sound like blasphemy to other researchers. So we wanted to explain the reasoning behind it.

The main argument against everyone doing research is that people who aren’t trained in it won’t do it…

As we grow as a company and more and more people start using Monzo, user research becomes even more important. We need to run sessions frequently and use our findings to inform product decisions, so we keep meeting the growing, changing needs of our customers.

To help us do that, we’ve come up with a method that let us quickly turn around results from evaluative user research.

We use a behavioural analysis matrix

One of the most important principles we follow with user research at Monzo is to focus on what people do and not on what they say. That’s because people’s opinions can change all…

We want to make money work for everyone, and that includes teenagers who might be managing their money for the first time. Last year we announced that we’ve made Monzo available to 16–17 year olds!

As we prepared to bring accounts to younger people, we spent some time over the last few months talking to teenagers. We spoke to some 16–18 year olds — and their parents — to try to understand how they think about and manage their money, and what we can do to help!

Here’s a few things we learnt, and how we’re thinking about using it…

Our mission at Monzo is to make banking better for one billion people, and a large part of achieving that involves solving existing problems. When we started out almost three years ago, we began by identifying all the pain points customers encounter when dealing with their traditional banks, and designing features to eliminate them.

But as we move forward, we want to go beyond just solving the existing problems brought about by legacy banks’ archaic systems, and meet more latent needs as well. The best functions or features are the ones that remove obstacles you didn’t even know were there!

Understanding hidden needs

Samantha Davies

Head of User Research and Design Leadership @Zoopla. Previously @monzo

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