Senior User Researcher

The first duty of the government is to keep citizens safe and the country secure. The Home Office has been at the front line of this effort since 1782. As such, we play a fundamental role in maintaining the security and economic prosperity of the UK.
The Home Office leads on immigration and passports, refugee protection, counter-terrorism, policing, fire services, and crime and drugs policy.

Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) enables the Home Office to keep the UK safe and secure. We design and build the services that help people apply for visas or passports; support policing and counter-terrorism operations; and protect the UK’s borders.

This is an exciting time to be at the Home Office. You’ll have a chance to shape the future and support our mission to deliver exceptional public services that work for everyone.

Our work is guided by these principles:

• We put user needs first
• We value delivery and outcomes over process
• We work in the open

Our flexible working policy ensures a healthy work-life balance. We also nurture talent and offer a broad range of learning and development opportunities that will help you flourish in your role.

We work hard to maintain a positive working culture and are committed to helping you fulfil your potential. We value diversity and provide an open, inclusive and supportive environment to help you do your best work.

You can keep up-to-date with our work on the Home Office DDaT blog.

Job description

We’re looking for a skilled and experienced Senior User Researcher who is passionate about what they can bring to delivering better services at the Home Office and prepared to be a vocal advocate for user needs.

This is an exciting and unique opportunity to be part of a growing user-centred design team in our Sheffield Delivery Centre. This team will be a driving force in championing user-centered approaches as we bring on new projects. You’ll have the chance to work across a breadth of products and services, ranging from discovery to live, touching a variety of priority HO policy areas.

You will work within a fast-paced delivery team - either across several smaller services or dedicated to one larger programme of work. Your research will inform policy, proposition, service, content and interaction design so that digital services work well for users and achieve their policy intent.

As a Senior User Researcher, you will plan and lead user research activities in large teams and on complex services. You will develop research strategy and test design, as well as leading on expansive discovery research and analysis within the broad problem space. You will lead research using a range of methods, including usability testing, contextual interviews, pop-up testing, and will lead on rapid analysis that involves the wider team whenever possible.

You will also carry out line management, mentoring, training and other activities designed to up-skill junior staff in primary research techniques, as well as recruitment activities to ensure that we continue to have the required skills within the organisation.

You’ll communicate insights from research in engaging and impactful ways to delivery teams and stakeholders to drive change and improve government services.

Candidates with exceptional skills and experience may receive a recruitment and retention allowance (RRA) between £2500-£6000. This allowance is subject to annual review in line with departmental priorities and could be reduced or withdrawn at any time.

We often have similar roles available at different grades. If a candidate is suitable for a similar role or a lower grade than they have applied for, we may offer the candidate that role without the need for them to go through a further selection process providing the role has the same competencies and essential skills.


Your main day to day responsibilities will be:

• Leading the planning, design and execution of user research and usability testing to understand user needs and behaviours and inform the design and development of government services
• Influencing how decisions are made and constructively challenging ways of thinking at both the team and senior stakeholder level
• Leading other user researchers within a digital delivery team, mentoring and up-skilling researchers and supporting the growth and development of the team
• Taking a user centred, evidence-based approach by turning user research findings into actionable insights that influence service/product development
• Supporting digital delivery teams to build accessible digital services by ensuring that participants with access needs and low digital skills are included in all research
• Sharing insights from research and examples of best practice where they can help other researchers across the Home Office
• Aligning user research activities with wider organisational objectives to provide strategic insights that inform policy and proposition

You will also be expected to carry out the following day to day activities:

• Presenting research findings and related recommendations to senior decision makers across government
• Identifying, mitigating or escalating risks to conducting and implementing research

Skills and experience

Essential skills

• You’ll have a demonstrable passion for user centred design, with the following skills or strong experience in:
• Understanding and applying a range of user research methods correctly for different life cycle phases, and advising others on these methods
• Communicating insights from research in a clear and impactful way that drives change in the design of services and informs policy and proposition
• Establishing an effective user centred design culture in a team, and supporting them to embed user centred design practices into their agile workflow
• Convincing senior stakeholders about the benefits of adopting a user-centred approach, based on evidence
• Establishing and applying ethical research standards and practices to ensure the safeguarding and wellbeing of participants and researchers
• Researching diverse audiences to help teams deliver accessible and inclusive digital services.

Please refer to DDaT Profession skills and capability framework Senior User Researcher for more information.

Desirable skills

Ideally you will also have the following skills or some experience in:

• Line managing, coaching and mentoring to develop skills of team members
• Building and leading a team
• Working autonomously, while managing multiple deadlines and responding to changing priorities
• Engaging colleagues who are less familiar with user centred design
• Familiarity with the Government Service Standard


Desirable but not essential: a degree in HCI/ Cognitive Psychology/ Anthropology/ Sociology/ Computer Science or related field, and/or relevant industry experience

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • • Research methods
  • • Negotiating and Influencing
  • • Ethics
  • • Accessibility and inclusion
  • • Analysing and Sharing Research

Apply today!