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Awkward Silences

Awkward Silences

By User Interviews
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.
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Currently playing episode

#5 - Collaboration Between UXR and Stakeholders with Holly Hester-Reilly

Awkward Silences

#66 - Agile Research Ops with Joey Encarnacion of Slack
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
May 4, 2021
#65 - The Best of Awkward Silences (So Far)
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 
April 30, 2021
#64 - Civic Tech with Cyd Harrell
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.
April 20, 2021
#63 - Information Architecture in UX with Page Laubheimer of NN/g
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:
April 6, 2021
#62 - The State of User Research with Katryna Balboni
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:
March 23, 2021
#61 - The Role of Research in CX Transformation with Kim Salazar of Nielsen Norman Group
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.
March 9, 2021
#60 - Discovery Research and Interview Skills with Maria Rosala of Nielsen Norman Group
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...
February 18, 2021
#59 - Ethical Hacking, Information Security, and UX with Ted Harrington of ISE
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
February 1, 2021
#58 - The Lone UXR: Being a UX Research Team of One with Izzy Nichols
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.
January 19, 2021
#57 - Research Amid Sudden Change: Working on Google Classroom During COVID with Amanda Rosenburg of Google.
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: 
January 5, 2021
#56 - 2020, UXR Year In Review
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?
December 22, 2020
#55 - So You Want to Be In Research Ops? How Roy Olende of Zapier Made The Switch
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
December 8, 2020
#54 - From Start to Finish: End-to-End Experience Teams with Danielle Smith of Express Scripts
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.
November 24, 2020
#53 - Everything in Context: Anthropology and User Research with Vanessa Whatley of Google
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.
November 10, 2020
#52 - The Missing Ingredient: How Storytelling Can Make User Research More Impactful with Harrison Wheeler, UX Design Manager at LinkedIn
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.
October 28, 2020
#51 - Uncharted Territory: AI, User Research, and What’s Next with with Hana Nagel Service Designer at Element AI
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.
October 14, 2020
#50 - To Manage or Not to Manage? Leveling Up Your UX Research Career with Amber Davis, UXR Director at Audible
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. 
September 30, 2020
#49 - The Magic of Diary Studies with Tony Turner of Progressive
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.  Highlights [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. 
September 16, 2020
#48 - Rising to the Moment: UXR, Diversity, & Inclusion with Randy Duke of Cantina
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. Highlights [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.
September 2, 2020
#47 - Up and to the Right: How User Research Improves Conversion Rates with Jon MacDonald, Founder of The Good 📈
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. 
August 4, 2020
#46 - Help! Creating Better Help Content with Andrew Sandler, Director of Innovation and Experience Strategy at Adobe
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.  Highlights [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.
July 15, 2020
#45 - Get Aligned: How Alignment Can Speed Up Your Work with Jonathon Hensley of Emerge Interactive
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. 
July 2, 2020
#44 - Researcher, Take the Wheel: Being Data-Driven vs. Data-Informed with Hannah Shamji, Head of Research at Copyhackers
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. Highlights [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.)
June 12, 2020
#43 - UX Benchmarking: Demonstrate Design ROI with Kate Moran, UX Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group
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.
May 29, 2020
#42 - 2 for 1: Combining Customer Research & Sales Demos with Jane Portman, Co-Founder of Userlist and Host of UI Breakfast
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. 
May 20, 2020
#41 - 10x: User Research for Growth with Aazar Shad of Userpilot
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. 
May 7, 2020
#40 - Dream Stack: Create an ROI Driving User Research Toolset with Daniel Loewus-Deitch and Leo Smith
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.
April 30, 2020
#39 - A User Interview Every Day for A Year with Jonathan Anderson of Candu
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. 
April 17, 2020
#38 - Accessibility, User Research, and Inclusive Design with Cat Noone, CEO of Stark
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. 
April 10, 2020
#37 - Using Research to Write Next Level Copy with Joel Klettke of Business Casual Copywriting
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.
March 25, 2020
#36 - User Research as a Growth Engine at Early Stage Startups with Loic Alix-Brown, CEO of Flick
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:
March 19, 2020
#35 - Democratizing Research in Large Enterprise Companies with Luke Fraser of Paper Ventures
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. 
March 12, 2020
#34 - Self Care As A UX Researcher with Vivianne Castillo of Salesforce
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
February 14, 2020
#33 - Using Session Replay Tools to Supercharge Your User Research with Elyse Bogacz
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. 
January 31, 2020
#32 - 7 Reasons Not To Do User Research with Michele Ronsen
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.  
January 7, 2020
#31 - Why No One Listens to Your Research Reports with Caitria O’Neill of Google
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.
December 6, 2019
#30 - How 3 Mailchimp Researchers Landed Their Dream Jobs with Jud Vaughan, Khalida Allen, and Christianne Elliott
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. 
November 7, 2019
#29 - Researching Your Own Users with Chad Aldous of Abodo
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. 
October 23, 2019
# 28 - Part 3 - The Three Tiers of Culturalization with Chui Chui Tan of Beyō Global
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. 
October 17, 2019
# 27 - Part 2 - International Markets and Anthropology with Leia Atkinson of Shopify
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.  
October 17, 2019
# 26 - Part 1 - Cross Cultural Research in Action with Elsa Ho of Uber
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. 
October 17, 2019
# 25 - Why Participants Participate in User Research with Brittany Rutherford of User Interviews
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. 
October 1, 2019
#24 - What's in a Name? Building Custom Research Programs that Stick with Vicki Tollemache of Grubhub
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.
September 23, 2019
#23 - How to Interview Customers Continuously with Teresa Torres of Product Talk
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.
August 20, 2019
#22 - Why the Twitterverse Can Stop Freaking Out About the Evils of Personas with Andy Budd of Clearleft
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:
August 8, 2019
#21 - Why Surveys [Almost Always] Suck with Erika Hall of Mule Design
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 👉
July 23, 2019
#20 - Why Being Wrong is Right with Alec Levin of The UXR Collective
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. 
July 10, 2019
#19 - What UX Researchers Can Learn From Children with Noam Segal of Wealthfront
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. 
June 28, 2019
#18 - Juggling Hardware and Software (and Service Design) Research with Susan Rice of Toast
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.
May 30, 2019
#17 - Is It Ok To Recline Your Seat On An Airplane? with Bob Saris of User Interviews
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:
May 16, 2019
#16 - How to Facilitate User Research in Any Team with Nicola Rushton
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:
May 8, 2019
#15 - Starting a ResearchOps Practice with Kate Towsey of Atlassian
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:
May 1, 2019
#14 - 3 Ways to Make a Potentially Awkward User Interview Less Awkward with Adam Sigel of Hometap
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:
April 24, 2019
#13 - Make Qualitative Research Your Competitive Marketing Advantage with Katelyn Bourgoin of Customer Camp
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
April 18, 2019
#12 - 3 Essential Times for Qualitative Research With Shipra Kayan of Upwork
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
April 11, 2019
#11 - Integrating Research Faster with John Cutler of Amplitude
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:
March 27, 2019
#10 - Give Us Your Feedback and Reviews (Retro #1) - with Erin & JH
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:
March 22, 2019
#9 - Running Amazing Remote UX Research Sessions with Sonya Badigian of Marketade
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!
March 13, 2019
#8 - Continuously Delivering and Discovering with James Aylward of Pluralsight
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:
February 27, 2019
#7 - Making User Testing Fast, Fun, and Accessible with Laura Powell of Appcues
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:
February 13, 2019
#6 - Building Products That Don't Cause Emotional Trauma with Laura Klein
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 👉
January 30, 2019
#5 - Collaboration Between UXR and Stakeholders with Holly Hester-Reilly
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:
January 16, 2019
#4 - Conversational Research with Maggie Crowley of Drift
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:
January 2, 2019
#3 - Quant and Qual Flow with Cat Anderson
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:
December 12, 2018
#2 - When Research Doesn't Go As Planned with Jaclyn Perrone of Thoughtbot
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
December 4, 2018
#1 - Why are we here? with your co-hosts, JH and Erin
Listen as JH and Erin wrestle with the biggest question there is: why are we here anyway? We'll dive into what we think the podcast should (and should not) be and pave the way for our first guest.
November 28, 2018
#0 - Trailer
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.
November 26, 2018