Community and Craft Drive Strive

In early June, members of the Handrail team will be in Toronto for the UX Research Collective’s Strive conference. We are excited to be a part of the event and to connect with a vibrant community of research practitioners. As we prepare for Strive, we wanted to share the story of the UX Research Collective with visitors of our blog.

Disclaimer: Handrail is a sponsor of the 2019 Strive Conference.


Strive is a two-day conference designed to help researchers improve their practice, connect with practitioners, and get inspired. Strive is an extension of the work that the UX Research Collective (UXRC), a group of dedicated practitioners based in Toronto. Strive, the conference, grew out of informal Meetups of UX researchers to be a premier research conference.

I was able to ask some questions of a couple of the UXRC co-founders, Danielle Klein and Alec Levin. Danielle serves as the Director of Communications and Alec is the Director of Partnerships.

As a research and design practitioner, I’m a big fan of communities of practice that help individuals improve their craft, provide support and connection,  and help elevate the discipline as a whole. So, I’m fired up about being able to be a part of Strive.

Can you tell me a little about your mission?

Danielle: We believe that UX research makes the world a better place by empowering organizations to create more meaningful and mindful relationships between people and the products and services that they use.”

Why did you become part of the community? What motivated you?

Danielle: Being a research nerd is certainly a big part of it! I’ve enjoyed learning so much as a researcher through this community. I’m also motivated by the belief that research is key to building better, more human-centred products and services in the world.         

Alec: Community is how we get better. It gives us the resilience to deal with the unique challenges of being researchers, provides a support network when we’re challenged at work, and creates new friendships that last. I wanted to be a part of growing that and helping others have a better experience getting started in research than I did.

What’s the most important thing you get as a part of the community?

Danielle: There are many wonderful things but really it’s the people! I’ve made many friends and great connections through this community who have changed my perspective on research and more. The best part is spending time with really bright, passionate people and getting to share ideas and learn from others.

Alec: Friends. I am so lonely, without The UXR Collective I don’t know who’d want to hang out with me… Jokes aside, it’s just getting to know people, learning about the cool things they work on, it’s like watching the entire field grow up before your eyes. It’s a great feeling to be a part of that.

What are you most looking forward to at Strive?

Danielle: There are so many things! I’m really excited for the Research Through Design track. It’s close to my heart since design is how I found my way into research, and since I’m the host for the track and I’ve been working with the speakers on their truly amazing talks. In addition to that, I’m really excited to hear Vivianne Castillo’s new talk. Her talk last year was a highlight and an eye-opening moment and I’m confident she’ll once again shake up mindsets this time around.

Alec: Seeing hundreds of researchers all in the same place at the same time to talk about research.       

I’m looking to up my poutine game. Where’s the best poutine in Toronto?

Danielle:  I’m not the right person to ask 🙂 but my favourite restaurant is Bella Managua on Bloor, and Oddseoul on Ossington comes in at a close second!

Alec: Yikes - I’m the wrong guy to ask, but if it’s late at night and you’ve had a couple drinks you can’t go wrong with Smoke’s Poutinerie.

What advice to you have for first time attendees, so that they get the most out of the conference?

Danielle: Sign up for our conference buddies program, talk to people, make friends! The conference brings in a wonderful, international group of researchers with perspectives that are different than yours, so take advantage of the opportunity to make a new connection.

Alec: Everyone is excited to meet you. Find a way to open up and have a conversation with a stranger. They want to get to know you and learn about your story as much as you want to learn from them, and this is the best opportunity to make some new research friends and grow your research network.

More about Strive

About Handrail

Check in with the Handrail team at Strive. If you can’t make it, feel free to connect with us any time. We built Handrail to help teams collaborate throughout the entire user research process. Plan, collect, analyze, store, and share your research all in one location. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

Matt Arnold

Matt is a researcher and product specialist at Handrail, Inc. He is passionate about human-centered design and helping teams do more effective research. Matt has led strategy and design work for early and late stage startups, as well as some of the country’s most recognized brands.

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