5 Stories From The Design and UX Research Frontiers
What lessons can we learn from UX research and design being done at the very edge of our capabilities? How do tech’s most adventurous practitioners deal with brand new problems, unpredictable environments and unbelievably complex systems? Find out now! We’re proud to host some real trailblazers on Learners, and excited to share their learnings from the design and UX research frontiers. Enjoy!
1. How Design and Research Work Together to Define Cutting-edge Experiences in Mixed Reality
What it’s about: At the highest level, this talk is about the need for design and research to work closely when creating cutting edge experiences, particularly in mixed reality. That’s exactly what Ananthi and Peter do at Microsoft, and this talk features some super valuable learnings from their work together.
What you’ll take away: For the researcher, designer, or manager stepping into the world of mixed reality, this talk will set the stage and provide a bird’s eye view for what it takes to orchestrate the end-to-end process of researching and designing for new technology. Ananthi and Peter take you behind the scenes to show off the tactical aspects you may need to consider when working cutting edge projects like mixed reality.
About the creators: These creators are a great team that almost anyone in tech could learn a lot from. As a Senior Designer at Microsoft, Ananthi focuses on bringing curiosity, empathy, and play as driving forces to every creative endeavor. At the same time, Peter has almost 20 years experience in research, with a background in neuroscience and behavior in fish.
2. Research on the Frontlines: Fears, risks, and resilience in unlikely places
By Darya Pilram, Sr. UX Researcher @ Twitter
What it’s about: This talk delves into what UX research looks like in some of the harshest environments imaginable. Specifically, Darya describes her experiences at the frontlines of conflict in Afghanistan, the human security elements of the gig economy, and the current threats to U.S. democracy.
What you’ll take away: There are some lessons you can only learn when your practice is pushed to its absolute limits, and this talk is a window into some of those lessons.
Darya shows how there’s not always a simple solution in the field, and how to show courage in the face of complex and dangerous issues. One way to maintain courage, she says, is to make the most of your support network.
About the creator: Darya has an impressive background doing research in a wide variety of unpredictable environments—certainly qualifying as UX research frontiers. In 2019, Darya joined Twitter’s inaugural social science research team to lead policy research at the intersection of elections, disinformation, and well-being. Before transitioning to tech, she was an anthropologist with the US government for 11 years, most recently as the first full-time Counterterrorism Programs Coordinator with US Mission Somalia. In 2017, she built Uber’s UX safety research about human security dynamics.
3. Researching the Command Line Interface
By Atikh Bana, Product Designer @ Datadog
What it’s about: This talk explores research in the original computer interface: the limited, but powerful, command line interface (CLI)—which is still used by millions of developers worldwide.
What you’ll take away: Most of us aren’t researching the command line interface in particular, but Atikh will share what this complex form of research can teach us about all kinds of research.
For example; what do you do when all the decision-making is being done solely by the most technical folks, with little input from outside sources? In these cases, a researcher may not even be called for input at all. A team may not realize the need for an outside perspective; after all, they might say, “we’re developers making stuff for developers.” Check out this talk to see how Atikh faced challenges like these in a challenging and highly technical environment.
About the creator: Atikh is a Product Designer who researches developer needs and the tools they use. He also designs end-to-end experiences for highly technical products, making him an excellent resource for understanding command line interfaces—and just complex interfaces in general.
4. Into the Wild! Surviving Research Where Few Go
By Evelina Deleanu, Head of Experience @ ChaiOne
What it’s about: This talk is all about the challenges of conducting user research in industrial environments. In those environments, conditions can be unpredictable to say the least. Evelina will touch on issues like weather conditions, union restrictions, legal regulations, recruitment, and incentives for niche audiences.
What you’ll take away: You’ll get actionable steps you can take next time you prepare to do research in an unfamiliar environment. Even if it’s as complex and unpredictable as a nuclear power plant!
About the creator: Evelina leads User Research, Design, Digital Strategy, and Data Science teams at ChaiOne. She consults industrial services and energy clients on improving their operations, digital, and service experiences for employees and clients’ customers.
5. Cybersecurity UXR: Complex Applications and Expert Users
By Pacha Chen, Independent Researcher
What it’s about: At a high level, this talk is about working with experts in specialized domains, and how to make sense of their cognitive thinking. Specifically, Pacha shares her experiences doing UX research in the cybersecurity industry, and the methods she applied to elicit the cognitive process from cybersecurity experts.
What you’ll take away: Pacha provides useful strategies researchers can use to research complex applications in B2B settings.
She also gives advice on which research methods may NOT be useful when it comes to complex applications. For example, testing with mock-ups or prototypes can be next to useless IF the product is centered around manipulating information. That’s because mock-ups lack realistic data. And if the data is unrealistic, the expert users may not be able to complete their task properly. They may also hyperfocus on the faulty data, rather than the product itself.
About the creator: Pacha is no stranger to the UX research frontiers. She’s currently an independent UX researcher specializing in UX research for complex applications. Before becoming an independent UX researcher, Pacha had been leading UX research in the cybersecurity industry, where she studied the cybersecurity experts’ mental models and workflow for various cybersecurity solutions tailored for large enterprises.