A powerful partnership — building research engine through partnership with CuriosityTank and UsabilityHub

A powerful partnership — building research engine through partnership with CuriosityTank and UsabilityHub


  • UsabilityHub’s mission is to democratise user research by making it faster, more affordable and easier.
  • CuriosityTank, an organisation I had worked with previously, run a 8-week education course “Ask Like a Pro” where students work on real-world projects via a project sponsor, giving them realistic experience and providing value to the sponsor by generating research insights.
  • UsabilityHub did not have internal research capability (resources tied up on other projects) so when the partnership opportunity arose it offered the ability to deliver on our mission (by educating more researchers), provide a great marketing opportunity (by leveraging CuriosityTank’s network) and deliver value through generated insights to be used on current and future projects in both product and more broadly in the business.

My role

  • I brokered the partnership, connecting CuriosityTank and UsabilityHub via my personal network.
  • As the primary stakeholder, I liaised between both parties and was responsible for all bidirectional communication.
  • As the commissioning researcher I identified the projects we offered to the cohort, prioritised them and shaped the briefs.
  • I was responsible for the project management of the engagement on UsabilityHub’s side, including stakeholder management, tooling, process and research recruitment.
  • Facilitated retrospectives with stakeholders from both sides after each cohort to improve the engagement in the future.


  • Delivered two separate cohorts (Spring 2021 and Fall 2021), 8 separate research projects over 16 weeks.
  • Mix of evaluative and generative projects, all based on interviews. Each project undertook 10 45-60 minute interviews.
  • Worked with 16 students over the two cohorts, across the world, training them in research tooling and practice with a mix of individual and small group mentorship.
  • Successfully recruited interviews from our internal database by soliciting 1000-2000 internal customers and panelists per project via queries from the database and Mailchimp.
  • Trained the cohorts to use Miro and Dovetail to synthesise and store results in the tooling preferred by UsabilityHub.
  • Developed documentation around the Commissioning Research role (internal stakeholder on UsabilityHub’s side) to be used by both parties to align expectations and ensure shared understanding of how responsibilities were shared between partners.
  • Created a Research Questions backlog for UsabilityHub to generate further projects as they emerged over the course of day to day business.


  • One project focused on discovering usability and functionality issues with an internal tool created by the company — findings were immediately put into action by the team responsible with a reskin being developed over the course of a couple weeks.
  • One project evaluated a recent feature (video and audio) and findings were collated to form the next iteration for delivery.
  • Strategic projects slated for further down the track were given significant evidence supporting further development and shaping the direction.
  • One project yielded results that actually invalidated its assumptions, meaning it no longer was prioritised as part of the roadmap, saving the permanent team the effort and time required to find this out further down the track.

ALAP Commissioning Researcher_Stakeholder Details (1).pdf69.6KB


“Milly and I began working together on the UX Lexicon in the summer of 2019. She was an outstanding contributor! We also collaborated while she was at UsabilityHub. We created a powerful partnership when Milly and UH sponsored 12 "Ask Like A Pro" projects, over two cohorts, for my students to work on real-life UXR projects. Milly is not only an excellent collaborator and partner, she is also a supremely gifted mentor, an expert in product management, and user research. We've discussed several potential future collaborations and I am tickled pink to partner with Milly again. I adore Milly. I trust her implicitly. And I admire the way she thinks, approaches people, and problems. She is also unflappable.”

— Michele Ronsen, owner and director of CuriosityTank