The Lessons Learned Running User Research Interviews

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In the world of user research, no idea is a bad idea.

If you have an idea for a great piece of research, act on it. In fact, your first epiphany is the seed from which all great things will grow. Your idea will eventually shape your hypothesis—your very best idea. This is your proposed explanation based on your current and limited evidence, paving the way from your starting point.

The investigation to follow is where your user research comes in.

For far too long, concepts such as Agile and Minimum Viable Product have been used by companies as a way of accelerating their strategy through design and development process. The problem with such concepts is that they allow a team to collect the maximum amount of validated customer research with the least amount of effort. Simply put, customer insight isn’t established until much later in the research piece, if it all. But, if you’re like me, you’ll fall into the camp that believe that at the heart of each and every methodology is learning. Learning should always involve your users. Continue reading The Lessons Learned Running User Research Interviews

How to Improve the User Journey on Your Website

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From the moment a user lands on your website until they either leave or convert into a customer, a series of steps lead them from one point to another. Buyer personas represent your typical customer and help address pain points your customers have as well as predicting actions specific audiences might take. About 63 percent of marketers use buyer personas when creating content.

From my experience, here are some steps to help improve your user’s journey once you develop your target audience’s unique buyer persona. Continue reading How to Improve the User Journey on Your Website

No! We’re Not All Just the Same

Cultural Road Blocks in Design Thinking Research in Norway by:   |  Posted on

In May and November of 2018, I traveled to Norway to do user research. I don’t have any depth of experience with Norwegian culture. What follows is my outsider’s view and interpretation. I doubt it’s the whole story.

I tried hard to understand my surprising findings by chatting with Scandinavian friends and by researching cultural norms, but there are always limitations in how much an outsider can truly understand.

I still have more questions than answers.

“You should never assume. You know what happens when you assume. It makes an ass of you and me. Because that’s how it’s spelled.”

Ellen DeGeneris said that, but I’ve heard it all of my life. I’m sure you have too.

I’m going to tell you a story about making assumptions in some design thinking sessions in Norway. Continue reading No! We’re Not All Just the Same

So you want to be a UX manager?

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I remember a graduate student once asking me if she should continue on to a PhD program after completing her master’s degree. I asked her what she thought the benefits were to getting a PhD; she responded that having a PhD would put her on a faster track into management.

Her thinking was driven by a common and faulty assumption held by many—that eventually, to progress in your career as a UX professional, you have to become a manager.

The truth is, there are many career paths for UX professionals, including many leadership roles that don’t require managing people. In fact, organizations typically need a balance of managers and high-ranking individual contributors (meaning not managing people) to tackle varying leadership responsibilities that require different skill sets.

I’m more confident than ever that management involves distinct and sometimes intrinsic skills, and should not be viewed as the default next step in one’s career progression. And there’s a ton of research that supports this. According to one Gallup study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, only one in ten people possess the innate talents needed to be a successful manager. The same study quotes that companies fail to choose the management candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. Continue reading So you want to be a UX manager?

Somewhere Between Vulnerability and Design Thinking

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My story of discovering, first-hand, how important psychological safety is to teams pinning their innovation hopes on frameworks like design thinking.

I sat up from the exercise mat I was lying on and pushed myself off the gym floor. I hustled over to the window sill where my jacket, water bottle, and phone sat. I anxiously fumbled to unlock my phone and to tap the rewind button on the audio book, Dare to Lead, I was listening to so I could hear the last part once more.

The author, Brené Brown, was reciting a thought she always imparts to the leadership teams she coaches at the very start of their engagements.

“What, if anything, about the way that people are leading today needs to change in order for leaders to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment where we’re faced with, what seems like, intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation?

“While the question is complex, there was one answer that repeated…

“We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.” Continue reading Somewhere Between Vulnerability and Design Thinking