Letting the Research Speak: Harsh Agrawal of Marketo

Harsh Agrawal is a senior UX designer and researcher at Marketo, the marketing automation giant. For those of you familiar with Marketo, you probably know that it’s one of the most powerful software tools out there, and as a result, also incredibly complex. That’s why, after joining the company two years ago, Harsh established UX research processes in the product organization, with the mission to shift towards more data-driven design.

Harsh comes from a mechanical engineering background, and he attributes his focus on user research to an experience he had in graduate school. When called upon to build a medical device for amputees, he had a chance to speak with the people who would benefit from his design. It was then that he understood the power inherent in getting close to users to discover their needs and challenges.

Becoming the Voice of the User

Product and UX people have a big responsibility, Harsh says. They are the representatives of any company’s end user. “When we talk to the users, it’s not just about: “hey, do you like the product? It’s really about getting to know them and trying to understand their behavioral models and their mental models. You have to be able to talk to them at a level where they feel that it’s easy, that you really care.”

Before you start solving problems, you need to define them. For Harsh, research is the channel that distills the user’s voice, and delivers it to product, at scale. UX is a large umbrella that encompasses a variety of fields, so before you design anything you need to understand exactly how these are performing and affecting your users. That’s why Harsh emphasizes the importance of UX research as a function in any large product organization.