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Awkward Silences

Awkward Silences

Author: User Interviews

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Welcome to Awkward Silences by User Interviews, where we interview the people who interview people. Listen as we geek out on all things UX research, qualitative data, and the craft of understanding people to build better products and businesses. Hosted by Erin May and JH Forster, VPs of growth/marketing and product at User Interviews.
70 Episodes
Indi Young, independent Qualitative Data Scientist, researcher, author, educator, and thought leader joined our hosts to explain how designing for the “average user” can marginalize and harm real people. Indi shared how she finds patterns in people’s behaviors, thoughts, and needs—and how she uses that data to create thinking styles that inform more inclusive design decisions. Indi talked about… Why researchers should look for patterns, not anecdotes, to understand real user needs. What are thinking styles and how to uncover and use them. Why your “average” user often doesn’t exist in the real world, and how we can do better --- Send in a voice message:
Lucy Denton, Product Design Lead at Dovetail, spoke with Erin and JH about how she tackled a large-scale opportunity research project with a small team. She talked about how she got the whole team involved, how they turned all that research into actionable insights, and what they’ve built with them so far. --- Send in a voice message:
This week we’re mixing things up a bit. In this special episode, Basel Fakhoury, CEO and cofounder of User Interviews, and Benjamin Humphrey, CEO and cofounder of Dovetail, sat down for a conversation about starting a company in the UX research space, current projects, and what they think the future holds for user research tools. --- Send in a voice message:
How do you measure success in a still-evolving field? Joey Encarnacion, Senior Research Operations Lead at Slack, has been working in research ops since 2017. He joined us on the pod to talk about Slack’s Rolling Research program, what success looks like for his team, and how he builds systems that scale. Joey discussed… Ensuring research ops can scale by building the smallest operable system first How he measures the success of his efforts in such a new field Slack’s Rolling Research program --- Send in a voice message:
To celebrate our launch on Product Hunt, we're taking some time to reflect on what Awkward Silences is all about. We'd appreciate your support in our (belated) launch here: Guests featured in this episode, in order: Jon Macdonald, Founder of the Good Cat Noone, CEO of Stark Roy Opata Olende, Research Operations Manager at Zapier Maria Rosala, User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group Joel Klettke, Founder of Case Study Buddy Erika Hall, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at Mule Design Harrison Wheeler, Senior Manager, Product Design at LinkedIIn  --- Send in a voice message:
Whether you’re paying a parking ticket or getting a divorce, chances are high that you’ll go through some (if not all) of that process online. Chances are also good that the UX of that process will be… not great. Cyd Harrell wants to change that. Cyd—prominent Civic Design Consultant and Service Design Lead at the Judicial Council of California—has been working in civic tech since 2012. She’s passionate about helping governments create digital services that meet people where they are. In this episode, Cyd joins Erin and JH to talk about her past projects, navigating the public sector, what inspired her to get involved in civic tech, and how people can contribute to the field. --- Send in a voice message:
Information architecture is everywhere. Page Laubheimer, Senior User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, joins our hosts to shed some light on the complicated topic of IA and how the way we organize data impacts how we interact with products. He explains how and when to do IA work on a UX project, which research methods you’ll need, and how to launch your IA career. See the blog for the transcript and highlights from the episode: --- Send in a voice message:
Katryna Balboni, the content director at User Interviews, joins our hosts to dive into the data from our State of User Research 2021 report. They chat about the challenges of survey design and distribution, the impact of stakeholder engagement on UX researcher fulfillment, and the changing landscape of UX research. Bonus fun facts about medieval data collection included. See the blog for the transcript, links to resources, and a bonus medieval fun fact: --- Send in a voice message:
Is your company truly customer-centric? Are your systems actually helping you create better experiences for your customers? Last week, Kim Salazar, Senior User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, joined us for a live podcast episode to share valuable insights from her own work with teams trying to create truly customer-centric companies through CX transformation. She highlighted the importance of drawing from multiple sources of data and communicating the business benefits of CX work. --- Send in a voice message:
Are your research discoveries really discoveries? Or are you collecting validation for your own assumptions? That’s just one of the big questions Maria Rosala, UX Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, tackled in our second-ever live “podinar.” Maria shared her expertise on conducting thoughtful discovery research and user interviews. Listen to (or watch!) the episode to learn: Why the discovery process is a non-negotiable part doing quality user research  Maria’s favorite discovery methods How to get stakeholder buy-in Tips for conducting better, more insightful interviews & more... --- Send in a voice message:
Building great products is hard. Building great, secure, products is even harder. This week on Awkward Silences, we talked to Ted Harrington about the intersection between security and UX. He outlined what exactly ethical hackers do, how he challenges stakeholder assumptions about security work, and what teams can do to ensure their systems are secure. Ted talked about… What UX and security work have in common How teams can ensure their work is more secure Some of the common issues and myths he encounters --- Send in a voice message:
Being a research team of one isn’t easy. When you’re the only researcher at a company, you have to do every type of research, recruiting, planning, and analysis by yourself—all without the resources of a large team. But for Imani “Izzy” Nichols, being a UX research team of one is an exciting challenge. She’s been a team of one twice now and has learned a lot from her experience. In this episode of Awkward Silences, Izzy talked about how being a team of one allowed her to focus on championing research, leveling up her career in meaningful ways, and growing her skills. Izzy talked about… How she finds mentors and a sense of community. How to educate your teammates about the differences between market and UX research. How to conquer the inevitable imposter syndrome that comes with being the first and only researcher. --- Send in a voice message:
In March 2020, Google Classroom’s user base grew from 30 million to hundreds of millions almost overnight. As schools closed, teachers needed new ways to conduct lessons and manage their work. This meant that Amanda Rosenburg, a Staff UX Researcher & Team Lead working on Google Classroom, had a lot of work to do. Research requests were suddenly piling up, and her team needed to execute quickly to help the product team adapt to new and unexpected challenges. Amanda talked about… How she adjusted her research strategy to cover more ground, faster. Her biggest challenges, and the changes she’s sticking with. How students and teachers are coping with all this change. Read the transcript here:  --- Send in a voice message:
The year is wrapping up and it’s finally time to say bye forever to 2020 👋. The hosts of Awkward Silences, Erin May and JH Forster, took this opportunity to reflect on some of the things that happened in research this year, what changes they think are here to stay, and what they see on the horizon in 2021. They also revisited some of the best conversations we’ve had on the podcast so far, like chatting with Vivianne Castillo about self-care, Cat Noone about accessibility, and Randy Duke about diversity and inclusion in UXR. Erin and JH talked about… How work and research changed this year. What changes they think are going to stick. What they expect for 2021. Highlights [2:48] Erin and JH talk about the world going remote and vulnerability at work. [16:08] Dark design patterns and how UXers are working on fixing them. [19:31] UX Collective's 2020 lessons and what we learned. [22:49] Accessibility is a growing focus for researchers and designers. [26:46] How are we going to adjust to life after COVID? --- Send in a voice message:
There is a growing need for research operations. As more companies embrace the importance of user research and scale their UXR efforts, a dedicated ops function is quickly becoming a necessity. Research ops—which involves things like participant recruitment, research processes, and programs to help non-researchers do better research—can be a career path for many different kinds of people. Roy has worked with ops pros who come from traditional business operations, marketing, UX, and of course, research. He says the key to succeeding in a research ops role isis to being comfortable with blazing a new trail and taking joy in creating processes that work. Roy talked about… How to decide if research ops is a good career for you What he does on a day to day basis How research ops works at Zapier --- Send in a voice message:
Understanding your product from start to finish is easier said than done. The same goes for integrating research into every stage of a project. Danielle Smith found that she would often work on foundational projects for a product team, then move right along to the next thing, losing sight of the end-to-end experience. When she was tasked with building the research team at Express Scripts, she knew she wanted to have a better view of the big picture. So she brought  data scientists, analysts, pro survey designers, and user researchers together to create a superpowered experience team. Danielle talked about… How combining different disciplines has improved her recruitment process. Being able to support more cross-functional career interests. What she’d do differently if she built a team like this from the ground up again. --- Send in a voice message:
User research and anthropology have more in common that you may realize. Both involve studying the way people interact with their surroundings and make critical decisions, though anthropologists focus on the cultures and societies that shape behavior. This week on Awkward Silences, Erin and JH chatted with Vanessa Whatley—a Senior UX Researcher at Google—about what researchers can learn from anthropology. Vanessa talked about… How anthropology can teach user researchers to look more closely at the context of participants’ decisions and behaviors The benefits of a diverse research team, And how she puts insights into perspective for stakeholders. --- Send in a voice message:
People are 22% more likely to remember something when it’s presented as a story, rather than a cut and dry fact. So if you’re struggling to get stakeholders to care about and utilize your research, storytelling can be the key to getting research to stick.  This week on the podcast, Erin and JH chatted with Harrison Wheeler, UX Design Manager at LinkedIn and host of Technically Speaking, about the power of storytelling. Harrison talked about how getting everyone on board with storytelling can make the facts of research stick around for longer, learning if your research presentations are engaging, and reminding everyone that it’s all about the users.  Highlights [4:13] Ideally, research is the base for everything. Your whole team starts with research and learns to use it to tell compelling stories about the product. [8:17] Understanding your audience, their expertise, and how they like to consume data is incredibly important to telling a story that sticks. [13:47] Telling your user story by using quotes is really impactful at the beginning of a project. [19:07] Practicing telling fact-based stories about research helps you reflect on how well you know the information. [23:23] Knowing what kinds of media resonates well with your key stakeholders can help you tell a better story on their terms. --- Send in a voice message:
AI is becoming a part of everything we do. With voice-activated smart homes, ad targeting algorithms, and increasingly smart cars, AI is more and more a part of the fabric of daily life. But how do we make sure AI is built in a way that is user-friendly, unbiased, and ethically sound? That's where user research comes in. Erin and JH chatted with Hana Nagel, a Service Designer at Element AI, about how she researches for AI, why inputs are just as important as outputs, and the ethics around improving AI through your data.  Highlights [2:53] Establishing the ethics around AI is a collaboration between private enterprise, governmental organizations, and the civic sector. [4:53] The difficult part of researching for AI is assessing how people may feel about something they've never interacted with before. [9:25] A big challenge for theAI industry as a whole is how comfortable are we with giving up our data in exchange for optimization? [14:42] How the system as a whole is responsible for AI outputs, not just the individuals who work on the AI. [24:59] It is incredibly important to identify our own biases when building AI systems. This involves a lot of self-reflection to root out biases you may not know you have. [32:42] In Hana's dream world, the work of creating and researching AI would be more widely shared among people with different expertise to create something more reflective of many perspectives. --- Send in a voice message:
It's time to take the next step in your research career, but is management right for you? Erin & JH chatted with Amber Davis, UXR Director at Audible, about her journey as a research manager, how to evaluate what you really want from your career, and who to talk to when you're ready to level up.  --- Send in a voice message:
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