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 Carol Guest, VPs of growth/marketing and product at User Interviews. Take this survey and let us know what topics you want to hear next! userinterviews.com/awkwardsurvey
#141 - The Chaos Theory of Event Networking with Bryan Dosono of eBay
In this episode of Awkward Silences, Carol and Erin dive into the world of conference networking and planning with Bryan Dosono, a staff UX research lead at eBay known for his extensive experience curating and organizing conference programs.
Bryan share insights on how to prepare for conferences such as using apps to schedule meetings and emphasizing networking over solely focusing on content. He also discusses strategic scheduling to align conference participation with career goals and offers advice on making spontaneous, serendipitous connections.
The conversation also covers practical tips for adding value during small talk, how to approach and connect with other researchers, and the importance of being open, vulnerable, and willing to face rejection in the pursuit of meaningful interactions. Bryan provides guidance for both newcomers to the UXR field and seasoned professionals: overcoming imposter syndrome and leveraging transferable skills from related fields.
03:58 - Navigating the Unpredictable: Strategies for Introverts at Networking Events.08:24 - Strategic Networking: Maximizing Opportunities Before and During Conferences.12:33 - Networking strategies for academic and professional growth.22:36 - Balancing Attendance: Prioritizing Conferences with Active Roles.28:03 - Maximizing Remote Networking: Strategies for Engagement in Virtual Conferences.33:07 - Conference Insights: Making the Most of Your Experience through Pre-Planning.About Our GuestBryan Dosono, PhD, is a user experience research leader in the consumer technology space. He applies human-computer interaction research methods with visual storytelling to modernize the design of global marketplaces and online communities. He currently volunteers as a Conference Chair at UXPA International and serves on the User Interviews Research Council.
#140 - Should You Leave Academia? Advice for Researchers with Joe Stubenrauch
The decision to leave academia can be difficult. Often, it involves giving up a stable career path and a lifetime commitment to a particular field of study.
But as Joe Stubenrauch explains, the move also offers researchers the opportunity to pursue new career paths, improve work-life balance and geographic flexibility, and reinvent their lives.
And he should know: Formerly a professor of history, he walked away from tenure to join a big tech company as a UX Researcher at AWS. In this episode, Joe discusses his decision to walk transition to the private sector and shares thoughtful advice for others considering a similar move.
Highlights from the episode
[04:06] Joe reflects on feeling burnt out, bored, and doubtful in academia [11:23] What makes you happy? Joe weighs the pros and cons of things like mental health, geographic mobility, and proximity to family and friends.[19:41] Breaking into a new field, experimenting, and talking to people. [34:47] The importance of having a portfolio that includes compelling stories [41:35] Tactical advice for job seekers (resumes, LinkedIn profiles, job interview strategies, etc)[44:23] Working in a team environment as a former academicAbout our guest
Joe Stubenrauch is a former professor of British history at Baylor University, and the author of a prize-winning book published by Oxford University Press. During the height of the pandemic, he walked away from tenure and joined a big tech company in order to redesign his life. Now as a UX Researcher at AWS, Joe has found unexpected similarities between his work as Victorianist and his work in the cloud. He also writes regularly about the transition from academia to industry and is obsessed with how people can reinvent their lives and careers.
You can follow Joe on LinkedIn.
#139 - Content Design and the Power of Simple Language with Erica Jorgensen
How often do you think about content design? The answer, most likely, is: “not enough”.
The work of a Content Designer involves fitting the right words in the right places, understanding the nuances of things log in vs. sign in, and knowing the right words to use to engage customers. Content Design is an important part of the user experience—and the ROI is high. Like, “millions of $s saved through content-testing” high.
Erica Jorgensen is a Staff Content Designer at Chewy.com and the author of Strategic Content Design: Tools and Research Techniques for Better UX. She joined Erin and Carol on the podcast to discuss the ins and outs of content design, the importance of clarity for effective communication, and how to involve your audience in content design.
Highlights from the episode:
00:02:03: What is content design in the context of UX research?00:06:48: Gaining clarity by thinking about the words you use frequently 00:14:00: How Erica used simplified language to get customers to buy more insurance plans00:26:42: Using cloze testing to ensure general content clarity00:29:26: The importance of syllables and length 00:39:46: Resources and guides for better content design00:42:56: How Microsoft saved $2 million through content testing Sources and people mentioned
BrainTrafficChewy.comCloze testing — “Cloze Test for Reading Comprehension,” NN/g.Curtis Kopf, Chief Experience Officer at REIDylan Romero, Affiliate Instructor at University of Washington, UX at MicrosoftFlesch–Kincaid – Wikipedia Hemingway EditorJorgensen, Erica. Strategic Content Design: Tools and Research Techniques for Better UX. (2023) — GET 15% OFF AT ROSENFELD MEDIA WITH CODE AS15MeasuringU (Jeff Sauro)Merriam-Webster DictionaryMetts, Michael and Andy Wefle. Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience. (2020)Scott KubieSystem Usability ScaleTracy Vandygam, Senior Content Designer at MozillaVisual ThesaurusWinters, Sarah. Content Design. (2017)About our guest
Erica Jorgensen is a staff content designer at Chewy.com and the author of Strategic Content Design: Tools and Research Techniques for Better UX, published in April 2023 by Rosenfeld Media.
She's a content designer, content strategist, and team leader determined to bring greater respect to the content field. To that end, Erica speaks frequently at conferences including UXDX USA, UX Lisbon, Microsoft Design Week, the Web Directions Summit, and Button: The Content Design Conference, and on podcasts like The Content Strategy Podcast with Kristina Halvorson and Content Insights podcast with Larry Swanson. In addition to working in content roles for companies of all sizes, she has taught at the University of Washington and Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts.
Erica earned her B.A. from the University of Connecticut and M.A. from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. In her free time, you can find her exploring Washington State’s wineries or hiking with her husband and rescue dog, Rufus.
#138 - Designers as Change Agents with Maria Giudice
“I realized that design is about helping people make sense of the world. And I looked at the world differently then… treating everything like a design problem that's solvable [...] [Design leaders today] don't use the power that we have to engage people, to activate people, to help them believe in something bigger than themselves.”Maria Guidice, author of Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World, joins Erin May and Carol Guest in this episode of Awkward Silences. Together, they examine the qualities of effective change agents and discuss how designers, researchers, and passionate folks can hone and apply these qualities to drive change within their organization.
Throughout the episode, Maria draws on her experience leading global teams at Facebook and Autodesk and a decade of research into the interconnectedness of leadership, design, and change to offer practical advice on how to approach change through a designer mindset.
In this episode, Maria, Erin and Carol cover:
What is a “changemaker”?The qualities of effective leaders and change agents.How designers can employ their skills to drive change at scale.Treating design as a mindset.Building support and working with people who share a creative and open mindset.Why we need to believe in progress and continuous improvement.Highlights
00:04:23 – Design is about helping people make sense of the world
00:09:34 – Maria’s research into the connection between leadership, design, and change
00:13:50 – The importance of understanding people’s resistance to change
00:16:28 – What is a changemaker?
00:18:04 – Design as a noun, a verb, a mindset that can lead change at scale
00:24:30 – Qualities of effective change agents
00:33:19 – Why Maria hates the term “change management”
00:36:12 – Embracing failure as a learning opportunity
00:39:46 – The importance of passion, purpose, and a belief in continuous progress
About our guest
For three decades, creative teams and business leaders have sought the provocative vision and mentorship of Maria Giudice, GEW DEECE. After founding the pioneering experience design firm Hot Studio and leading global teams at Facebook and Autodesk, Maria’s mission today is to build the next generation of creative leaders.
Through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and team-building workshops, Maria unlocks the potential hidden in executives and the people they lead. A popular speaker at design and business conferences, Maria is also the author of four design books, including Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design, and most recently Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World.
#137 - Practical Strategies to Foster Customer Obsession with Prayag Narula, CEO and Co-Founder of Marvin
What company isn’t “customer obsessed”? Well, a lot, as it turns out.
That’s not for lack of caring—but building a customer-centric culture is easier said than done. And how you do this depends on whether you’re starting from square one or trying to change a company’s culture from the inside.
According to Prayag Narula, CEO and Co-Founder of Marvin, changing a culture towards customer centricity requires starting from the bottom-up. Building something new? Leaders should be obsessing over customer feedback, actively placing research and customer insights front and center from the very beginning.
In this episode of Awkward Silences, Prayag sits down with Erin and Carol to discuss his strategies for building a customer-centric product culture at Marvin. Tune in to learn more about what it means to obsess over customers, doing research versus using research, how customer centricity is put into practice at Marvin, and more. 👇
[00:00:31] The origins of Marvin
[00:04:40] Building a culture around customer centricity
[00:08:35] Why leaders should obsess over a customer centric culture
[00:13:59] How the rest of the team can keep customers front and center
[00:18:04] Balancing doing research and using research
[00:21:46] “Capital R” versus “lower case r” researchers
[00:28:21] Getting researchers more involved in strategic conversations
[00:30:35] Practicing customer centricity at Marvin
[00:39:36] The Marvin repository
[00:46:53] Prayag’s parting words of wisdom: talk to your market
Sources mentioned in the episode:
userinterviews.com/awkwardheymarvin.comAbout Our Guest
Prayag Narula is an entrepreneur and trained researcher with a passion for building technology he always wished for when conducting user research. He is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Marvin, a qualitative data analysis platform and research repository for user-centric teams across the globe. He is further the Co-Founder and a Board Member for LeadGenius, a demand generation automation company automating and accelerating outbound sales and marketing for mid-marketing and enterprise companies across the world.
#136 - Designing Generative AI at Notion with Linus Lee
AI is a big part of Notion's strategy for the future of knowledge work, and they're exploring ways to use AI to make people's lives easier.
Linus Lee, a Research Engineer at Notion, spends his time researching and learning about AI—how users interact with it, the challenges of building trustworthy AI systems, and its - potential to help people work more effectively.
In this episode of Awkward Silences, he sits down with Erin and Carol to discuss Notion’s approach to designing interfaces for Generative AI tools.
Tune into this episode to learn more about the challenges of instructing AI, the importance of user feedback to the AI design process, security considerations, use cases, and more.
[00:05:03] Tools Linus is excited to see come to market
[00:06:50] Generative AI and its function at Notion
[00:10:22] Recognizing AI is useful versus finding the use cases for it
[00:13:58] Lessons from the Notion design process
[00:22:09] Breadth versus depth in workflows
[00:26:10] Learning about models in the wild
[00:28:52] Security considerations with AI products
[00:32:13] Understanding the difference between AI generated and human written text
[00:36:34] Should we be scared of AI?
About Our Guest
Linus Lee is a Research Engineer at Notion, prototyping new software interfaces for augmenting our collaborative work and creativity with AI. He has spent the last few years experimenting with AI-augmented tools for thinking, like a canvas for exploring the latent space of neural networks and writing tools where ideas connect themselves. Before Notion, Linus spent a year as an independent researcher in New York City.
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