Ethnographic Research, Shame, and the Future of UXR | The Learners Digest
This week we opened the Learners Vault with some really inspiring talks around UX Research. These talks will teach you lessons you might not learn in a lifetime of experience in the field, so I’d highly recommend you check them out! Topics covered include shame, future-proofing, designing for research, guerilla and opportunistic research, A/B testing vs generative and ethnographic research, and much more.
What’s it about? A/B testing is one of the most popular research methods used in product design, but it’s not always the best tool for deeper learning, when compared to ethnographic & generative research. Sam speaks about when A/B testing works, when it doesn’t, and why we’re so drawn to it even when it’s not a great fit for the problem we’re solving.
What’s it about? As researchers, we spend our time analyzing the way other people live and work—but how often do we take the time to look in the mirror at our own approach? Vivianne explores the role of shame in UX research, helping us think through power dynamics and the ethical implications of our work.
What’s it about? If user experience is on a mission to perfect functional and incremental design, design anthropology is on a mission to illuminate the social transformations that comes from large-scale changes to technology and systems.
This talk explores a theory of social change that challenges us to broaden our view of design from tomorrow’s innovations to the 20-50 year view of how our designs reshape our behaviours and rules of engagement. Ariel then deep dives into the responsibility of designers, the transdisciplinary nature of modern design, and introduces some scenarios of possible futures.
What’s it about? Too much of user research focuses solely on confirming that the answer at hand is right enough. But designing for research is not about getting it right. It’s about designing to enable effective response and meaningful feedback from people.
In this talk, we explore how to apply this approach—from choosing the right fidelity of design, exploring when to disconnect content from design and when not, to underused tools like ‘Sacrificial Concepts‘. This talk will help designers break out of cookie-cutter research methods and encourage them to apply their creativity not just to the solutions they are designing, but also to how they explore and validate them with people.
What’s it about? Children are courageous, experimenting with everything that comes in their path. They notice the little things, including the things that evade most of us grown-ups. A child will embrace their creativity and failures, and never cease to ask why—again, and again, and AGAIN.
Children have the makings of a brilliant researcher, but typically we are so focused on TEACHING children, we forget that there is much to LEARN from them. In this talk, Noam invites you on a journey into a child’s mindset, and how he became a better researcher when he strove to be more like his 4-year-old daughter.
What’s it about? This talk gives a detailed overview of guerrilla research, including what it is, how guerrilla research methods compare with traditional methods, and how to strategize and conduct your own guerrilla research study. Maia also showcases two distinct case studies to demonstrate the dissimilar forms guerrilla methods can take, and how different approaches fit the needs of different projects.
What’s it about? When everyone in an organization shares useful, insightful information, wonderful things happen: we align our company strategies and our teams toward common goals, and we make great user experiences. The job of the research leader is to unlock that information by advocating for users and soliciting insights far and wide.
The research leader empowers colleagues to vocalize and share their valuable perspectives so everyone makes better decisions. Gregg Bernstein, previously the Senior Director of User Research at Vox Media, shares how to find the information that leads to more informed decisions, build data-sharing relationships, and put it all together in service of your organization.
What’s it about? In many ways, UX Researchers are supposed to protect, elevate and advocate for the humanity and needs of people who engage with designed experiences. Unfortunately, we often try to accomplish these goals at the expense of our own health and well-being while simultaneously working at companies and organizations that don’t know how to mentally and emotionally support us as we wade into the complexity and messiness of humanity within our research.
In this talk, we begin some of the challenging personal work necessary to acknowledge the holistic toll of our profession, the symptoms of compassion fatigue and trauma within our industry, the impact it has on research and design, and what you can do to rise above it.
What’s it about? How do you turn the stressful experience of a checkout into a calm and intuitive process for the buyer? Emma has pondered this question for quite some time.
In this talk, she shares insights from her mixed methods approach, and how to best apply it to building thoughtful purchasing experiences.
What’s it about? In this talk, the founding members of Slack’s research team share their experience building the team from the ground up, and how their team has evolved over time. They share how they coordinated among many disciplines, methods, and business units to create a unified roadmap for the company. They illustrate this with a case study examining how research prepared Slack for launch in Japan, and conclude with a set of lessons learned along the way.
New Thoughts on Learners
Master Ethnographic Research with Yoanna Dosouto from Google
What’s it about? In this talk, Yoanna shared how design ethnography and a combination of other traditional research methods helped shape the mobile roadmap and boarding process for a North American airline. See how the team secured investment and support to create a mobile application that bridged the gap between business motivations and user needs despite heavy regulation.
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