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.
Looking to add a new research method to your stack? Diary studies are a great way to get to know what your users are thinking in context, plus they can be run remotely! We chatted with Tony Turner, Lead UX Researcher at Progressive Insurance, about how his team uses diary studies to build out better customer experiences.
He offered some tips on scaling up diary studies, which tools he uses to get the job done, and how he uses the data he gathers from diary studies to build out customer journey maps.
[4:03] Diary studies are all about context.
[9:08] Tony talks about how he combines self reported data from diary studies with in-app analytics.
[10:27] Using a mixture of open ended questions and closed ones is incredibly important to getting the most useful feedback.
[12:32] Recruiting early is key in a dairy study because it gives you time to find the best participants for your work.
[14:54] It's ok if every participant doesn't answer every prompt, as long as you're getting the moments that matter.
[19:37] If diary studies seem intimidating, start small with just a few participants. You can hone your skills and get lots of great insights.
[21:44] After each diary study, Tony and his team make individual journey maps for each participant that help them understand how different people experience the process.
[28:05] User research is all about helping people share their stories and experiences.
This week on the podcast, Erin and JH chatted with Randy Duke, Senior Research & Design Strategist at Cantina. They covered a topic that's on many people's minds right now, systemic racism and inequality, and how UX research can have a positive (or negative) impact on these systems. Randy talked with us about UXR's role in all this, how we can work to change the systems we work in, and how we can create more inclusive research.
[4:58] A good place to start thinking about how to address inequality is to reflect on the system we work in.
[6:03] People in UXR help to bring truth to the organization through research, which puts them in a good position to do it in a greater context.
[8:46] Now is the time to really dig into the messiness that comes with the details of user research.
[10:22] You need to be actively seeking out feedback and information from all of your users and thinking about their unique situations. If you don't, you're opening yourself up for failure.
[12:49] We spend a lot of time asking if we can build something, rather than should we built it.
[14:57] Don't look at where you can go wrong when solving a new problem, look at what you can do to get it right. That means including people of diverse backgrounds from the start.
[18:25] To make more inclusive panels when you recruit, think about the demographics that are actually important to your study. If you're recruiting for a test of a new keyboard on a mobile phone, does the person's income or location really matter?
[26:35] Inclusivity is not only the right thing to do morally, it's also the law.
[28:25] Randy talks about the difference between how think something will be used vs. how it is actually used and the importance of checking in.
[31:35] It's also important to think about how features and products could be abused.
[35:08] At the end of the day, systems work because we allow them to work. Taking the time to stand up and say things should be different is the only way to create change.
We've been more and more curious about how user research can be used by more than just researchers. This week, Erin and JH chatted with Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, about how marketers can use research to improve conversion rates. He talked about what conversion rate optimization really is, how to get stakeholders to see the value of research work, and why the key to conversion success is really just giving users what they came to your site for in the first place.
When Andrew joined Adobe back in November, he faced an interesting design challenge. How do you manage a vast library of help content, spanning tons of different products in different industries, so that users can easily find what they need to know to fix their problems? Andrew has learned a lot about leveraging the power of community to problem solve, experimenting with different formats to make technical explanations more accessible, and proving the value of great help content.
Erin and JH chatted with him about how he positions help content to stakeholders, tackles creating content for products that have evolved from box software to the cloud, and uses research to focus on the right things at the right time.
[1:43] Great product doesn't need as much help content, but people will always need help, and the more powerful your product is, the more help they will need.
[8:53] By connecting customers with the right information through communities, they're 3x less likely to reach out to support for help.
[10:59] Early engagement = better retention, so Adobe segments out its customers to focus on what gets them started.
[13:35] Adobe has segments and chapters to keep everyone on the same page and communicating well.
[25:20] People who get value from help content actually end up having a higher lifetime value. It's all about trust and mutual respect.
[27:41] How Adobe creates help content for different languages and cultures.
[32:09] How Andrew is thinking about simplifying solutions, and making help content work smarter, not harder
[37:58] Help content and product can work together to create even better solutions for users.
[39:32] Quantitative information can tell you what some of the issues are, while qualitative can help your team dig deeper into why they're there
[43:03] Building out recommendations for other things you may be looking for helps your help content build a story for the user.
This week on the pod, Erin and JH chatted with Jonathan Hensley, Co-Founder and CEO of Emerge Interactive, about the power of alignment right now. He talked about what alignment means for teams, how it can help speed up your process, and where research fits into the picture.
There's a lot of data out there. Keeping track of Google Analytics, NPS scores, site metrics, usability test results, industry data, and everything else can be downright overwhelming. Which is why Hannah Shamji, Head of Research at Copyhackers, likes to say she's doing data-informed work, not data-driven work.
For Hannah, her team, and her clients, working with tons of data can be overwhelming. Since you can usually find at least one graph to support a research point, it's important to put data in context. Hannah outlined how she gets in the zone with large amounts of data, puts things in context while doing her best to stay unbiased, and frames data around her research questions.
[2:12] The difference between being data-informed and data-driven.
[6:21] Why it's important to put data in context and pull from many different sources.
[9:25] How Hannah approaches data through the lens of her research question.
[16:40] How Hannah tries to build data narratives that tell both sides of the story.
[23:21] Digging deep into data is a little bit like meditating.
[27:07] Hannah, Erin, and JH chat about data and COVID-19. (This episode was recorded on April 24, 2020.)
UX benchmarking can help teams set goals, keep an eye on how their designs are improving, and most importantly, show the ROI value of their work. Kate Moran, a UX Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, joined Erin and JH yesterday for our very first live podcast and gave us all the details on UX benchmarking.
She outlined specific case studies of creative benchmarking, walked through how to demonstrate ROI, and highlighted when and how benchmarking is most useful to UX teams.
Sales demos are a great opportunity to get to know your customers. The person on the other end is interested in your product, looking for a solution to a problem, and likely have some pain points with their current solutions. That's why Jane Portman, co-founder of Userlist, uses demos as an opportunity to connect with potential customers, keep pain points top of mind, and learn how to make her product even better.
She chatted with Erin and JH about why she's doing customer research and sales demos at the same time, how constantly talking to customers helps her develop a better product, and how she came up with the podcast name UI Breakfast.
We’ve heard from a lot of designers and user researchers on the show, but we’re always looking for fresh perspectives on how research can help your business. So this week, Erin and JH chatted with Aazar Shad, Head of Growth at Userpilot, about how research methods are essential to his growth strategy.
Aazar started using research methods to find our who his users were but continued using them to grow Userpilot’s business. He talked about how secondary research helped him find the best ways to connect with his target audience, continuous interviews help him identify where to go next, and how he honed his research skills over time.
With so many research tools on the market, it can be hard to nail down exactly which ones are right for your team. This week on the pod, Erin and JH chatted with Daniel Loewus-Deitch and Leo Smith, who are the Directors of User Experience and Research, respectively, at a large insurance company. They wanted to learn more about how Daniel and Leo choose the tools with the best ROI for their team.
Daniel and Leo have spent a lot of time building out their tool stack. Since they have a lot of experience working for large organizations with many people conducting research and even more consuming it, it was important to them to get it right. In this episode, they talked about how they evaluate the ROI of tools, the summit they assembled to identify the tools their team could and would use, and how important it is to leave your assumptions at the door when tool-hunting.
After three failed MVPs, Jonathan Anderson and the team at Candu realized they needed a better strategy for understanding how users interact with their product. So they started doing some user interviews. And they kept doing them. Every day for a year before launching their product. Jonathan chatted with Erin and JH about what he learned from those interviews, how it changed the direction of his company, and how he went from a total newbie to a research pro.
This week on the pod, Erin and JH talk to Cat Noone, CEO of Stark, a suite of tools designed to help teams ship accessible work. They chatted about how accessibility is constantly evolving, what teams can do to get started, and inclusive design.
This week on Awkward Silences, Erin and JH chatted with Joel Klettke, who has 6+ years of experience writing killer conversion copy for clients like Hubspot, Scott's Cheap Flights, and WP Engine. His first piece of advice? "All the best copy [is] words you've stolen from the customers themselves."
He also stressed the importance of meeting your customers where they are, involving copy from the start of any new project, and structuring your user research so it's easy to pull out the best insights. He walked us through how he used research to make changes at Hubspot that resulted in a 35% increase in demo requests and a 27% increase in inbound call volume. He also outlined how he used chatbot data to help an online divorce startup net an extra 165k in revenue by answering questions their users needed answers to.
This week on Awkward Silences, Erin and JH chatted with Loic Alix-Brown, CEO of Flick. They talked about how he built his MVP, how his research strategy has changed as his business has grown, how he used research to find the right pricing structure for his customers, and how he's maintained a regular research cadence amidst the chaos of launching a startup.
Read the transcript + highlights here: https://bit.ly/2WpDtBs
This week on the pod, Erin and JH chatted with Luke Fraser, Founder & Managing Director of Paper Ventures. They work with insurance innovation and product development teams to get products to market faster. Before starting Paper Ventures, Luke worked at IDEO's Design Lab and Liberty Mutual Insurance as a Product Manager. All in all, he's spent a lot of time working with teams at large enterprise companies, with lots of red tape around user research. He chatted with Erin and JH about how he democratizes research in risk adverse environments, works with legal teams instead of against them, and even how he got teammates from legal to start attending daily standups.
Vivianne Castillo’s career has always been human-centered. She started off as a counselor, helping people navigate through complex issues, but eventually found her way to UX research, helping companies better understand their users.
Though she loves user research, she’s found it frustrating that it doesn’t adopt the same standards of care for its practitioners that counseling and other human service work does. Since researchers deal with the messy task of human emotion, all those sessions can take a toll on them. Things like compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma occur often, but without a name for what they’re feeling or the tools to do something about it, researchers are left feeling burned out and unsuccessful. Erin and JH chatted with Vivianne about how researchers can take better care of themselves and how they can empower their teams support each other psychologically.
📚 Read the full blog post and transcript here
This week on the pod, we chatted with Elyse Bogacz, who has worked on product on Drift, Runkeeper, and now NDVR. She walked us through how she uses session replay tools like FullStory to supercharge her user research. She talked about how she shares replays with developers and stakeholders, how she deals with privacy issues, and how other teams can use session replay tools to add to their user research programs.
Erin and JH chat with Michele Ronsen, founder of Ronsen Consulting and professor at UC Berkeley and General Assembly. Michele talks to a lot of different people about user research, and she's found there are some situations where user research is (😱) not the best move forward. In fact, there are 7. Michele walked us through each one, and what teams should do instead.
If you’ve ever presented research to a crowd of glazed over eyes, or sent around a detailed report only to hear back crickets, this episode is for you. After reading Caitria O’Neill’s article UX Research is Boring and No One Reads It, we knew we had to chat with her. Caitria has made sure research is heard, absorbed, and utilized in companies like Airbnb and Facebook before moving on to her current role as a Senior UX Researcher at Google. She shared tips on how to make research reports fun, storing insights so they’re used more often, and how she makes the whole process easier for herself and her team.
There are many ways to become a UX Researcher. To learn more about the winding career paths many researchers take, Erin and JH talked to Jud Vaughan, Khalida Allen, and Christianne Elliott, who are all UX Researchers at Mailchimp. Though they all hold the same job at the same company, they took very different paths to get there. Jud started at a Support Technician at Mailchimp and worked his way over to the Research department. Khalida wanted to go into medicine and studied Psychology in college. Then she got into the startup scene and began doing freelance design and research and eventually found herself at Mailchimp. Christianne also studied Psychology and wanted to go into medicine, but fell in love with academic research and moved into that after school. She wanted a new challenge and found her way to UX Research at Mailchimp.
Researching with your own users means you have to make some special considerations. When was the last time they used your product? Where are they in the funnel? When was the last time they participated in a research session with you? We chatted with Chad Aldous, Head of Design and Co-founder of Abodo, an apartment listing company, about how he and his team handle research with their own users. He chatted with Erin and JH about doing continuous and one-off research projects, how he chooses the right users to talk to, and how he creates great research invites that get results.
This is the third episode in our three part series on cross-cultural research. In this episode, Erin and JH chat with Chui Chui Tan, author of International User Research and Founder of Beyō Global. Chui Chui walked us through her "three tiers of culturalization", which can help international and cross-cultural researchers focus in on what they need to be researching. She also talked about how to prioritize different elements of your research based on the culture you're researching, the product you're working on, and how those two things interact with each other.
This is the second episode in our three part series on cross-cultural research. In this episode, Erin and JH chat with Leia Atkinson, Senior Market Researcher at Shopify. Leia chatted with Erin and JH about how her degree in Anthropology helps her learn more about international audiences through research. She shared her technique for recruiting participants through "snowballing", how she deals with culture shock, and how she maximizes her learning each time she takes a research trip abroad.
This is the first episode in our three part series on cross-cultural research. In this episode, Erin and JH chat with Elsa Ho, a Senior UX Researcher at Uber who works on airports and events. Elsa is no stranger to international and cross-cultural research though, she's spent most of her career helping companies and teams learn about international audiences. She walked through some of the meaningful cultural differences she's encountered over the years, how she works with translators to ensure she's getting the full message, and how she makes the most of each trip.
We’ve talked a lot about how researchers do research, now it’s time to hear from the participants. We invited our Participant Marketing Lead, Brittany Rutherford, and had some recent participants leave voicemails about their experience. We asked participants, "why do you participate in user research?" to help us understand how participants think about user research and how we can make their experience better.
How do you get everyone on board with research? Vicki Tollemache has found that building a branded research practice that's fun, engaging, and impactful is pretty effective. She started Grubhub's Parts Unknown research practice to involve everyone in researching emerging markets and exploring new ideas within their product. Erin and JH talked to Vicki about how she set up Parts Unknown, the effect its had on Grubhub, and her tips for establishing your own standing research day.
Everyone wants to talk to customers more often, but Teresa Torres of Product Talk wants teams to do it at every opportunity. This week on the pod, Erin and JH chatted with Teresa about continuous interviewing. She shared tips on how to get started with continuous interviewing, be a great active listener, and work customer feedback into more of your product decisions.
Personas are polarizing, some love them, but many love to hate them. This week, Erin and JH talk to Andy Budd, CEO and co-founder of Clearleft about why the social mediaverse should stop freaking out about the evils of personas. They're a tool in the toolkit, and come with contextualized nuance all their own. Read our blog post about it here: https://bit.ly/2KA7B5H
Surveys are everywhere. They bombard us at every turn, and most of them aren't even helping teams learn what they need to know. We chatted with Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design and author of Just Enough Research about why most surveys suck and what we can do about it. Check out our blog post about this episode here 👉 https://bit.ly/2O5oDOg
This week on the pod, we talked to Alec Levin, one of the co-founders of UX Research Toronto, a major UXR conference. He chatted with us about something he thinks UX research needs more of—failure. He put it this way in the podcast, "If you’re batting 100% on all your points of view, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re working on stuff that’s too easy." Erin and JH chatted with him about being open to new ideas, challenging yourself, and being transparent about your work.
This week on the podcast, Erin and JH talk to Noam Segal, Director of User Research at Wealthfront. Noam recently gave a talk at the UXR Strive conference in Toronto, and after hearing all the buzz we had to chat with him about it ourselves. He shared some lessons he's learned about research from his four year old daughter, including, keep your eye on the prize, find a method in the madness, tell it like it is, be a good host, and believe in magic.
This week on the podcast, Erin and JH talk to Susan Rice, Head of of Product Design and Research, at Toast. As Toast developed their Toast Go, a handheld POS system for restaurants, Susan learned a lot about researching for both hardware and software at the same time. She also talked about her passion for service design, what she loves about working in design and research, and how she juggles design for B2B, B2C, and everything in between.
This week, we’re doing something a little bit different. We’re talking to the CTO of User Interviews, Bob Saris, and a bunch of random strangers about one of the biggest questions out there—is it ok to recline your seat on an airplane? We got our whole team involved to do some on-the-street research. Read all about it here: https://bit.ly/2w3iUfU
This week on Awkward Silences, we talked to pro UX designer and researcher Nicola Rushton. She's worked with teams large and small to facilitate fantastic research. She walked us through how she does it and how to think of researchers as facilitators of learning. Read all about it here: https://bit.ly/2VRwqSk
This week on Awkward Silences, we talked to Kate Towsey, who is the Research Operations Manager at Atlassian. You may know her as the person who started the ResearchOps Slack community in March of 2018. In the past year, the ResearchOps community has grown and Kate has left her consulting career to join Atlassian. Erin and JH talked to Kate about how she's started a ResearchOps practice and what she's excited to see as ResearchOps grows. Read more here: https://bit.ly/2XZavWK
This week, we're maxing out on awkward. Erin and JH talked to Adam Sigel, Head of Product at Hometap, about the (potentially) awkward and (usually) emotional interviews that make up his research with homeowners. Through his years in product, he's learned some things about making user interviews less awkward. Check out the full blog post here: https://bit.ly/2DyY7Vw
Talking to customers is pretty powerful stuff. This week Erin & JH talked to Katelyn Bourgoin, 3x startup founder and growth geek, about how qualitative research can become your marketing team's competitive advantage. Learn more about the episode here https://bit.ly/2IHsbSu
This week on the podcast, Erin and JH talk to Shipra Kayan. After 10 years of working in UX design and research at Upwork, she's launched her own consultancy. On the pod, she talked about getting your research started on the right foot, no matter what kind of research you're doing or how big your team is. Read all about it at https://bit.ly/2Z6gyKH
This week on Awkward Silences, we talked to John Cutler, Product Evangelist at Amplitude. He talks about how to integrate research faster, starting together with your whole team, and practicing just-in-time research. Want to learn more about what we talked about in this episode? Check out our blog post here: https://bit.ly/2CEaoaO
In this special edition episode, we're talking about what we think about the podcast so far and where we hope to go. We want your feedback to help us decide what to do next! Let us know what you think here: https://bit.ly/2uoijV9
Erin and JH talk to Sonya Badigian, UX and Content Specialist at Marketade. As a researcher at a fully-remote company, Sonya is a big fan of remote research. She walks us through how remote research can be affordable, flexible, and fun.
Want to learn more about remote user research? Check out our blog post!
What does it take to run a team that's constantly researching customers and shipping product? James Aylward of Pluralsight has a framework that keeps his team moving while creating products that are all about the customer. In this episode, he talks about Pluralsight's directed discovery process and how they assemble awesome teams that keep it all moving.
Want to learn more? Check out our blog post: https://bit.ly/2BVI0Rn
JH and Erin talk to Laura Powell, creator of User Test Fest, an event hosted by Appcues to bring user testing to more companies and users. User testing is fun, informative, and impactful. User Test Fest is here to prove it.
Want to learn more about quick user testing? Check out our blog post: https://bit.ly/2UUzetN
This week on the podcast, Erin and JH talked to Laura Klein about building products that consider user's real life situations more thoughtfully. Sometimes, big tech does things that actually end up emotionally harming users. How do we do better?
Check out our blog post about this episode 👉 https://bit.ly/2ZrlpFf
This week on the pod, Erin and JH talk to Holly Hester-Reilly, CEO of H2R Product Science. They talk about creating org structures that are great for collaborative research, presenting your research in a way that makes it easy to empathize with users, and how research can get left behind as a company grows.
Want to learn more about creating research that works with stakeholders? Check out our blog post here: https://bit.ly/2McVQTh
This week on the pod, Erin and JH talk to Maggie Crowley, Director of Product Management at Drift, about research as a product manager at a rapidly growing startup. They talk about how to do great research in a conversational way, how Drift's research practice is growing, and how Maggie thinks about research as a PM.
Want to learn more about conversational research? Check out our blog post here: https://bit.ly/2TqA5lk
The best research plans leave room for evolution, to see what the research reveals, and build further testing to drive deeper insights. Cat Anderson, a UX writer at AP Intego, joins us to talk about how methods can inform each other, and lead to better customer understanding to benefit the entire company.
Check out our blog post for even more qual and quant talk: https://bit.ly/2QKgYF6
This week, Erin and JH talk to Jaclyn Perrone, Design Director at thoughtbot, about how to handle research that doesn't quite go as planned. They dive into preparing for your research sessions, making participants feel comfortable, and staying calm when things go wrong.
Want more info on how to prepare for awesome research? Check out our blog post here https://bit.ly/2B2q7yX
What's this Awkward Silences podcast all about anyway? As a place to start, it's about embracing the awkward beauty of talking to people to learn and build better stuff. Get a sneak peek in this pre-episode and meet our hosts, JH Forster and Erin May of User Interviews.