Episode 49 highlights – Nate Bold podcast about Remote Research, Impact & Social Responsibility:
- Social impact of UX and research work
- Remote research tips, tricks and challenges
- The future of UX research in a post-pandemic world
- Can you prove the ROI of UX research?
- Balancing the need for delivering a great story from the research and keeping good rigor in your study
- How to deal with people who don’t believe the findings from your research
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(this transcript was automatically created using our very own transcription feature in Aurelius and has been minimally edited, please excuse any typos or weirdness 😀 )
This is the Aurelius podcast episode 49 with Nate bolt. I’m Zach Naylor co-founder at Aurelius and your host for the Aurelius podcast where we discuss all things ux research and product in this episode. We have Nate Bolt. He’s the founder and CEO of Ethnio the ux research participant and recruiting platform his background also includes being a Founder at Bolt Peters a ux research agency that eventually got acqui-hired by Facebook where he then became a
a design research manager and if that’s not enough Nate also co-authored the book on remote research as you would expect Nate and I talked about remote research a fair bit being in the middle of a global pandemic forced a lot of teams to do more or exclusively remote research. We touched on some of the challenges and remote research, but also how things have changed from when he first co-authored the book our chat also turned to discussing some differences in overlap with market research from there. We talked about one of the biggest challenges researchers face.
Just backing up your findings and getting business partners or stakeholders to accept an act on your insights from there. We also touched on a growing topic of the responsibility. We all have as researchers on the world were shaping in the impact. We’re having really great stuff from someone who’s been in our field for a long time. The Aurelius podcast is brought to you by Aurelius the powerful research repository and insights platform. Aurelius is an all-in-one space for researchers to organize notes capture insights analyze data and share out.
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Okay. Let’s get to it. How’s it going? Good, how are you? Yeah, not bad. You know we were chatting a little bit here just with everything going on. We’re hoping that the world can kind of settle and maybe we can all focus and get back to some semblance of a normal life pretty soon here. Sounds good. Yeah. I mean now we’ll be releasing this in the future. So for so for future a future population when you hear this, I mean hopefully things have gotten better and not worse by that point, right, so I want to thank you again.
Again for jumping on here and taking the time to chat. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Yeah, definitely. I mean again as with a lot of these episodes I think selfishly they’re people who I tend to want to talk to and have conversations with right and and that that makes a really good podcast, but for folks who maybe are not familiar with you in the work you’ve done and sort of your background I think would be great to share a little bit about who you are what you’ve done what you’re passionate about your score. I had a ux research agency in terms of scope for a while called bull Peters and then we were kind of acquired by Facebook and I was there.
A couple of years and then I went and have been focusing on feo since then which is like a participant management platform and along the way co-wrote a book on research and done a few articles and things like that. It’s a weird videos. Yeah, very good, you know remote research is one of those things where I feel like a lot of people know you from among your many. I’m on your, you know, very broad background, but I think that’s just it’s still one that a lot of folks kind of know you from and it’s very timely right now right because of everything that has been going on and kind of ongoing even with the pandemic
and a lot of people realizing or forced to have to do remote research. Yeah, totally. It’s yeah, it’s funny. I mean it was already kind of becoming much more common in this definitely accelerated things, you know, and I got to ask other than we’re in for some really Uncharted Territory. I think in the world in our industry, right just as a result of the global pandemic and stuff but one of the things I wanted to ask you is like how have things changed since you really sort of wrote the book on remote research because back then there was a lot of there’s a lot more restrictions that we sort of don’t have to
I’m kind of curious. You know, what’s the biggest thing that you’ve seen change with remote research between now and then, I mean, it’s just become so much more accepted at that time. It was still kind of like a pill battle to convince people on the necessarily the validity but like maybe the feasibility of doing different kinds of things remote and now it’s just it’s just research, you know, I mean just drop the remote like I feel like every team even prior to the pandemic had some component of remote stuff and now whether it’s schools are just people getting used to
it or need or it’s so much more popular. So that’s the number one thing. It was still kind of friend when we started the book. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I remember reading the book and I was like man, I just I just wish we could like get the right tools or get people to feel comfortable doing this and know and I think at least for me and I don’t know how true this is for you or anybody else you spoken with back then it was like remote mobile research was just the real. Yeah challenge it was ever ways to do it and you covered that. You know, I’m but it was it seems so difficult.
Now there’s there’s companies that and tools and stuff that completely specialize in that that seemed really really solid totally, which is awesome. I think that’s what I was sort of hoping and I think seemed likely but it’s just takes time. Yeah for sure. So, you know with all that you’ve had a lot of remote research conversations. What’s the number one thing people still want to come and ask you about that maybe even especially in light of it now, we’re we’re all kind of forced to do research remotely. Yeah. That’s a great question. I think there’s a tie the other two a tie one is around.
The challenges for a specific study. Here’s my ex challenge to do this remotely. How can I do that? Whether it’s like Hardware that you you know, and maybe need to shift to people or if it’s like a legal challenge like something around consent or a special population some kind of tricky situation. That’s not your average, you know sort of no-brainer remote like it was a poor people to zoom meeting and call it a day like that kind of garden-variety remote I think is so common. Now that whatever tool you’re using, you know, there’s a way to do it that first fight.
In the most common sort of question is I’ve got this x scenario and I find those super interesting and there’s it’s never ending. I mean, it’s just like study design in general, you know, there’s always some unique element to it. So that’s that one and in the second is just tools I still think that cools is the biggest topic because you know, you kind of have zoom is like reigning champ because it’s just become so dependable and like this whole weird pandemic, you know poster poster company, but you know even
Outside of that. I think that space weather It Mobile the fur desktop or specialized note taking or research repositories or the participant recruiting having that over the last few years kind of scoot over to remote teams and individuals of every scale are individuals. I think that’s the second most common thing that I see people talking about. Like, what’s the best tool for x or here’s my unique challenge for a that’s really interesting. Yeah. I mean so we went from a situation where there were none. I mean, I remember
Things you call it out in the first edition of the book. It was like so so old yeah, I mean it was it was us doing the best we could with what was available and now like you said Ray you almost have a choice of which of these tools specific to your need would you like to use and it’s just such a huge change rate in yes was available. Oh and a lot of the complexity now is like make his sense of the landscape of tools and trying to fit pick the right one. Yeah, you know actually and we get that a lot just being the nature of who we are right and I’m sure you do as well with ethanol.
Oh and sort of that side of the world, but we as an industry. We like tools a lot. I think it’s a great. I think that’s I think that’s part of it. It’s not just it’s not just that things have matured. I think for some reason we love tools. I don’t know if I’ve ever really figured out why that’s the case. You know, that’s interesting question. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. I mean dealing I think if you’re talking about the qual side, there’s always sort of unknown factor when you’re talking about humans and the logistics around scheduling humans, and it’s not
Can entirely computer-based thing and anytime that’s in the mix. I think that there’s complexity and never-ending complexity. And so there may be tools are a way for us to help ease that or sort of codified that process or whatever but who knows? I mean, that’s just a cup bologna. Guess that’s all right. It’s all valid here. I mean, none of us know the future right? I’m kind of curious though. I mean so kind of on that note none of us know the future, but I’m curious. Do you have a sense for a do you have a prediction of like how things will change once the pandemic kind of gets?
Under control and were able to do more in-person research. Do you think or do you expect to see people still doing a lot more remote research than they were before the pandemic or do you think it’s going to go back to us sort of preferring to have things in person? It’s a great question. I do think that there will be a lasting increase of the pie in remote stuff, especially for ux research market research much bigger Beast more complicated. I don’t know about that for the ux side of the fence. There’s so many large organizations and even governments that
We’re not allowed by the lawyers to do remote stuff and that all changed in an instant. And so I think a lot of those organizations and teams wanted to you know, maybe not all but at least have a component of their research be remote for a bunch of different reasons and that’s not going anywhere because I think as long as the lawyers aren’t going to like change their mind or security maybe both security and legal once it’s like approved. I don’t see that getting revoke for those types of places that were still even episode of pandemic like
We’ve was we’d love to but we’re not allowed for XYZ reason and then boom all of a sudden allowed. Yeah, that’s really really great point that you brought up. And this was something I was actually talking about even that sort of a global Society level is that when when the pandemic really hit full swing I was saying this has shown how a lot of things we all thought we couldn’t do and all the reasons why it showed us that with the right motivation that we can actually change anything. We want pretty easily with the right motivation in the right sort of folks on board and you know, you’re right there. It’s a really great point. It’s just
Once you’ve opened Pandora’s Box to that, I don’t think there’s I don’t think there’s ever closing it right. Now. We’ve seen that the world can operate this way. There’s pros to it. There’s cons it were all sort of still struggling with that. But I think that we get to make a choice on that how which is really cool. I think we had heat the pros out of it. Yeah, and I think that it just further probably eroded a bit of the thinking of it as such a different thing, you know remote research just became research. So now it’s just I don’t think it’s something people even explicitly think about is some
Big difference. It’s like this is the stuff we do in person. This is doubly remote. It’s not there’s no big conversation about that part anymore. Unless you’re prohibited by like specialized harm. Our sons are one of the many reasons I think if you’re dealing with specialized hardware, for example, you’re like kind of dying to be able to do in-person stuff because it’s such a huge problem to ya do ship some beta Hardware products to someone that’s not supposed to have it yet. You know. Yeah that probably is not going to change anytime soon. But yeah, I didn’t even think of that. I mean there’s huge.
Challenges they’re just in terms of confidentiality and everything else and not to mention like if you’re giving somebody a a widget and they hold in their hands as of the goes wrong. You can’t necessarily help. Everything’s wasted. Right? Right, right. You can’t have the engineers jump in and tweak it or something. Yeah, all that stuff. Yeah, that would be really difficult and actually makes me think of something else. I mean, I’m curious. Do you have opinions or experience and saying hey this is the kind of research that you ought to actually focus on doing remotely because there’s there’s benefits to doing that way. It’s much easier to kind of conduct and execute and
Get the most out of as opposed to than the other end of the spectrum. Do you have research really like I don’t know that I recommend you try to do that remotely. Yeah, probably I mean it’s dependent on so many variables. It kind of actually it sort of highlights. The reason why I’ve never been to interested in like a second edition of the book and that’s something I’m so embarrassed about when people still read it today and they’re like What’s GoToMeeting and I’m like, oh that was like 50 years ago. Sorry. I’m so sorry. That was like the thing in the book, but you need some amount of input.
From the researcher research team to answer that question. Well, and there’s it’s like well, what kind of order are you and like what’s your audience? Like and what are your goals? What are your research goals? Like what are you testing and then like, okay. Well then let us like map out what the right fit is for that context, but it’s not that many, you know, it’s like seven inputs or something. So I think I always speaking of being to love Seth. I always thought about doing a better job of just Gathering some inputs to be able to say or X scenario. This is what you should look into.
But that’s hard to do well and you know, it’s a lot different Beast than just writing up a book fair enough, you know, you touched on something in one of your answers to an earlier question, you know, you said especially on the US side of the fence like ux research, whereas maybe market research is different, you know, I kind of want we’ve touched on this topic in the podcast in the past. I want to ask of someone, you know, especially with your company. I think who kind of helped serve both of those markets. What’s the big difference there to you the ux research versus market research? Yeah. I’m big topic, of course.
I mean on the surface, I think there’s like a simplified way to think about it, which is like behavioral interaction with interfaces on the US side versus purchase enhance or add attitudinal positioning on the market research side, but that I mean, I don’t necessarily believe that that’s the way to divide them up. I think there’s a ton of crossover. We had Jason Buell from Answer Lab give a talk about this at one of our like SoCal Buicks research nights like a year or two ago. I think he teaches ux research in a market research program at USC. So here’s a great perspective.
Active on on the kind of difference. So maybe I’ll send you the link to his the recording of his talk is he does a great job of getting into some of the Nuance what I do think that ux research is sort of like as a little bit more of like technological innovation attached to it. If you had to pick one of the differences, I think market research has a more traditional history in large companies of like this is the way we do this. This is the kind of studies we run on our advertising and our marketing and stuff and even our product positioning in our pricing and things like that. And so I think because
Is it that it’s a much bigger industry. I think we’re still a much smaller slice of the pie. I think there’s a bigger spend on Mr. + ux are based on nothing. I don’t see my guess. There’s so much overlap. I think you have a ton of people now that you know, even though my brief time at Facebook, I saw a lots of you know, you XRS kind of working with Mr. And vice versa and I don’t think it says siphoned off as we might might think I’m actually really glad you touched on that because that was going to be one of the things that I would ask is like if
Any overlap exists between the two because it would seem that you’re doing a very similar job, but maybe for a different outcome, right? Yeah. I mean a lot of the beating pumping heart of whatever is driving most of the studies. We all work on kind of comes down to like, you know will people buy this thing which is sort of closer. You know, I think market research is closer to that sort of Colonel, but then you know, if you’re a research team or ux research team, you might get that distilled down into more product questions, you know, are they able to complete this flow or this aspect of
Our product or our Interfaith but so they’re working towards the same goal the improving or building better things, you know, whether or not it’s to make more money that’s depends on the context. But every team I’ve seen or worked with that was only on uxr side kind of deals with requests that are a little bit blurry and each of those requests, you know, I research requests like hey, you know, can we do a study where we just figure out like if we built a green box with people by that green box and I’ve seen a lot of ux researchers get a little bit prickly a bit like hmm. I can’t really tell you if people are going to
to buy it or not. That’s not really my jam. You know, I can if you have a prototype I can test that but I think there’s tons of ux ours that do study design that still touches on purchase intent and tons of market research for a fact that deals with interaction of some kind of behavior of some kind for sure. That’s a really interesting take on that. You know, I haven’t I guess I haven’t personally noticed that shifter or here as you would say, you know, you ex are hers maybe get a little prickly and say I don’t know if that’s really the my scope of my job. What’s interesting about that is it makes me think of Indie young and her
Our work and discussion of problem space research because like to me that’s kind of what you’re trying to figure out in Market Research is it’s not how can we improve this thing or how can we enhance this thing that we’ve already decided somebody should buy but a lot of what I took away from her, you know, and that work is like understand the problem. That is to be solved better. I think goes hand-in-hand with is this a problem that’s worth solving that now business can make money forever. I guess. Yeah, you know, I think that I think that actually a lot of people should probably Embrace a little bit more only. Yeah, I mean and I think
think that you’re absolutely right and that and I love and he’s worked so much that probably just shows that there is a lot of overlap between the two Fields. I mean who knows it’s so dependent on the accompanying the team and the you’re talking about agencies versus in-house and I think all that makes a huge difference but it’s fascinating how much of that creeps into every research studies like so and you know, it’s some stakeholder at some point often very often is like I just want to know, you know, is this going to be a success or not? It’s like wow, I don’t know. We’re not crystal ball readers. Yeah, totally.
And I’m glad that you kind of touched on that because there’s a couple comments. I’ve got with regard to that. So the first one is I almost wonder if because market research is trying to answer more concrete question for the business as to why that that might be like you said there are a larger slice of the pie. There’s more investment goes into that is because people maybe understand the output a little bit better than you are. So, you know, if that’s if that’s possible and then the other part of that too is kind of you know where I was going with I’m definitely showing my hand my bias on this, but I tend to think that
We as an industry ought to lean in to trying to hang our hat not on metrics, but more concrete answers, you know not to be a crystal ball. But rather to say well the research we do can help you get an answer to the question you have, you know, rather than just I feel like there’s different camps and ux and ux research specifically where we want to be very careful of not being prescriptive to say if you do this thing, you will get this outcome. Yeah, and then there’s other people who go well we want to tell you we’re going to do this research to help you make that decision directly, you know, and I kind of think that we ought to lean into that a little bit more because
It would show more value in the work that we do sure sure and it’s notoriously hard to quantify that value. I think everybody’s troubles with that and one of the things that’s so interesting is companies keep continue to invest so heavily in ux research and and Michael research for that point A lot of times internally, there’s some pressure to say like prove you’re you know impact sometimes there’s sometimes there isn’t but a lot of the magic that comes from understanding the context of people’s lives and how they overlap with interfaces is hard to quantify. So it’s a never-ending tricky thing.
NG it is. I’ve never found a great answer to it because I think it just doesn’t exist. It’s not that yeah, there’s a lot of really smart people who’ve worked really hard to try to figure that out. I just think that answer doesn’t exist. You know. Yeah, I mean part of it is like saying, you know, prove the value of seeing live music versus recorded music, you know, you might maybe can’t prove that a live show can touch you in a certain way. Even if it’s the exact same song, but I think anybody that’s a been to a music live music performance that touch them in some way or they
You just knows that it’s a bit different than listening to it homes. Nothing wrong with recorded music. But that that powerful connection that you get you can build something on that. Just like if you talk to somebody that opens up some insight or series of people there’s something that happens there that’s like powerful but hard to Define and I think companies struggle with that because it’s not easily quantifiable. I really appreciate the way you said that and using the analogy of like live music because listening to an MP3 as opposed to going to a concert on paper, too.
Same thing. It’s the same song the same layer because should be you know, by all accounts essentially exactly the same right? There is something very profoundly differed right of going to a concert as opposed to, you know, hearing it on your music player of choice. Yeah, and that’s luckily that’s not something that musicians. I don’t think have to quantify. Although I guess I just realized that ticket sales are probably the quantifiable metric that they have. Well, I sold 50,000 tickets. There’s the proof sure but you know, I think there is some kind of
Interesting correlation there this in terms of wall insights because if they are a little bit tricky to say, well we touch all these people and we did all this rigor around our sampling and our methodology and what we ultimately got or some moments that inspired us to think differently around the audience that we’re trying to research and that is inherently hard to quantify but it is power. Yeah, no question. No question. All right, so I’m going to take a little bit of a left turn on this because I’m just it’s apparent to me.
Me, you know you and I geez we’ve been acquaintances for a really long time. You didn’t get my point is you’ve been in the game for wrong time. Yeah, and I’m just kind of curious like even to this day. What’s the one mistake you see ux researchers making that you’re just like we got to get past this what’s this thing that all of us are because there’s a lot more people coming into the field. I think they could probably really benefit from your practice hands and say look, this is something I see all the time avoid this it’s, you know, get that out of the way right at the beginning of your career, you know, man, that’s a great question.
Down for a second. One thing. Well first is just a caveat that you know, I spend most of my time working on SEO is like a you know designer or p.m. So I feel like I’m not doing a ton of research anymore. We’re not doing it. Well, that’s for sure. So I think if I just think back though, it’s when I was doing a lot of research or kind of working on those types of projects like okay. I know what it is. And this is hard. There’s no easy answer to this. It’s finding the balance between pack.
Packaging up your research in a way that can have an impact and having good rigor because the two are sort of at odds with each other. It’s like a yoga pose or something like practicing good rigor, but also put this together in a way that you can sort of present it and people will find it engaging and it will have him back that’s hard. I know that Cliff clang who just wrote this awesome book about, you know, user research stories. I’m totally doing a terrible job remembering it, but he told me once in SF that he thinks.
Searchers are secretly journalists, like kind of in denial because a huge part of your job as a researcher is to get comfortable with figuring out the lead and the headline. Yeah, and that’s oftentimes at direct odds with all the rigor that goes into conducting studies, you know, mixed methods and doing everything right and doing it on a timeline that you can fit into your product development. Those things are kind of top of mind and working with the team and the stakeholders, but at the end of the study you do have to package it up into a way that resonates it get them in the kind of pull people.
In to be able to get into the rigor and the details the complexity most researchers. I know want deeply to walk through the complexity and really get into this is where the nuances and I want to really get into this conversation around the Nuance findings, but you can’t get there. You can’t pull people in to that sort of piffy, you know headline and that’s hard that’s just hard. I just see people not focusing as much on that because it feels like well I want to do the research. I don’t want to like waste time packaging it this I love it. This is
Really good stuff. We’ve talked about this in a number of different ways and I completely agree. I think the people who are in ux and this isn’t just research as but ux researchers to tend to loved their craft. And so they get really excited about that and then they want to tell other people about their craft but what I usually tell folks is, you know, ux research the output of that is an answer to a question. That’s what it is. And in the people want the answer to the question not the Rube Goldberg machine behind the scenes of how we got there right unless it’s a really cool machine.
Exactly and there’s some people who are really into that and so really it’s like know your audience and that’s kind of what you’re saying. At least what I’m taking away from what you’re saying is getting a good understanding to strike that balance of knowing your audience to be able to draw them in so that you have the chance to talk about that craft in the Nuance of it, you know, if and where appropriate but that is it’s very very difficult because it feels like it I think they feel like they can be at odds you could say like, well, I don’t you know, what I care is about as rigorous high quality research. I don’t care about headlines. And so I think
That’s what reminds me of this do these two things that feel opposite and do them. Well at the same time. Yeah, that is interesting. I mean, I guess do you feel like they in reality actually conflict with each other? No. Yeah great. Great question. I mean that I don’t think they do but in terms of your time, you only have so much time and that’s something that I think we’ve all noticed is the pressure to execute these studies especially for internal teams, but also for agencies and everybody it’s crazy. We need this done by tomorrow. Yeah, you’re like, yeah. I’ve personally experienced that. I mean I
I guess it makes me wonder and I guess I’ll ask you because you’re our guests would do you think that there’s ever a place to say well, we’re going to sacrifice a little on the rigor to get a great headline. I mean, I think the reality is more gray area that probably there are small sacrifices. Maybe I don’t know that people would think about it as like, well, I’m going to sacrifice this giant piece of rigor to just get this out the door, but I think in the in the minutiae of recruiting and scheduling in even even non-automated even even soaked moderated or whatever the type of
Algae is there’s probably things along the way like, well we’re not going to do as many tests as many components of our interfaces we were or whatever it is that yeah you end up I think scaling back as soon as you get into it. You know, I go. Yeah no time for that. Never mind. Yeah, and even something you said, they’re just it kind of gave me an idea. I’ve never thought of it this way before but there’s these two sliding scales, right if you’re dealing or working with a team whether your in house or not that is going to call you to the carpet on your rigor. Then you probably ought to be spending more time there.
Are than spending more time on like having a good headline? But on the flip side of that is true, right? Like it seems like two different equalizer buttons. Like where is the one side goes up the other one kind of has to go down. But if the headline is really important and having an impact and being able to sort of draw people in and sell the outcome of that is is more important than you have to accept that. You’re going to have less time for this other thing unless you’re working for a place that just has a ton of time money resources, which I’ve personally never experienced. I can’t believe that’s the case for most of us. Yeah. That’s that’s a great.
Of kind of diving into it more because you do sort of remind me that the number one, you know, we run all sorts of surveys from from FBO customers just to asking about like what are the biggest hassles you deal with and one of the things we hear about all the time is defending research from people that don’t agree with the findings. Yeah. I think that’s a huge thing that researchers and whether you’re a freelancer agency or in-house, you know, you have a p.m. Or an engineer or stakeholder an exact. That’s like I’m not buying it. Where did you find these people?
How many people did you do? Well us what sin, you know, they immediately go into the rigor as a way of questioning the validity of the findings of the findings don’t fit well, and we’ve I’ve experienced that a ton of times. I think most people that have worked in the field have and I get it. I mean, I think that that makes sense if you’re like this if you’re a stakeholder and you’re like this smells funny. Hmm, how could you possibly be saying that you know, everybody just, you know, ate their whole orange. I don’t believe people would eat the entire orange. That’s crazy. You know, you sort of want to get into maybe like, how did you arrive at this conclusion?
But it’s sort of then puts pressure on for you to have both the background, you know, maybe the academic background PhD or whatever to be able to defend it plus the actual rigor in the study itself plus maybe the structure of your entire team to say this is how we create the you know, our operations and our projects in general to make sure that we find the right things. I think that’s a massive part of people’s day-to-day challenges doing research these days is just to be able to defend
And well, this is this is such a really interesting topic and there’s a lot of things I kind of want to ask you about in touch on with that. You know, the first one is I remember we had Peter bear holes on a long time ago and I absolutely stole one of the things he said to me because I thought it put it so beautifully it resonated with me because I realized I did the same thing. He always said I take a very lawyer like approach to design where the whole process you’re essentially building this case. And then right and then your final state is like look I’ve already
Out all the evidence. Here’s the thing that I’m telling you that I think that you should do. I’ve already given you all these bread crumbs as to will lead you back to why this should be the case right? I’m curious though because we were also talking about market research. Do you see folks in market research having to justify this having to defend those answers when in that kind of work as well? Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the field. I just haven’t seen it. I feel like I’ve heard stories here and there. I’m sure it happens, but I have no idea. Yeah, totally. Let me just makes me wonder. The reason I ask is because as we’ve
We sort of discussed. It seems that market research. There’s no seams about it is been around longer than yeah, ux research has sort of officially right, you know sure in name and sort of recognized practice which just sort of leads me to believe that it hits some inflection point where people were like, well, this is just part of how we do business. I would argue that ux research is not broadly accepted in that way yet. Mmm, and I’m just trying to figure out why and I think the part of it part of why some people probably have to justify their findings and sort of rug really sell that more is because
It’s not just widely accepted as this is this is a way of doing good business now, it’s a great topic. It’s so interesting. It’s so rich because you’re sort of it’s like pulling right at the strings of what does ux research gets you is it a formula for great products think we all know that it’s a wonderful and Rich field that cannot give you a 100% guarantee of building something phenomenal and there are so many examples that we all know of products that never did a lick of ux research and our wonderful advice.
Versa and it’s complicated and so, you know because of that it doesn’t have an easy answer to well. Why should we do it and it’s sort of touches on the culture of a company and what they value and do they invest heavily in it and it’s just, you know, such a fun topic with no real easy answer but you know, maybe it’s that market research is just closer to the pumping heart of capitalism of like, you know buying stuff, but I don’t know ya know that’s really good. The response made me.
Think of something else too because you know, you said one of the pervasive things in our field is maybe you do great research and then regardless of that somebody says, I’m not buying it. I’m not picking up what you’re putting down. I’m curious. So you also touched on company culture and what they value have you seen patterns there in terms of hey these types of companies this type of culture tends to question that more as opposed to maybe others. Who were they put their faith in ux research? Yeah, never found a correlation that I’ve really noticed held true.
Ooh, you know for a long time I felt like and I’ve heard this from a lot of other researchers to like sort of design oriented cultures or companies that aspire to have like a design first approach tend to Value research because so many designers value that appreciate having that kind of input into their design process, but I think I’ve seen that be untrue just as much as it’s true, you know, there’s like teams that are completely not designed first that have phenomenally rich and successful research teams and vice versa to you know like that. So I feel like
Never I’ve never over the 20-something years. I’ve been doing this noticed a correlation. That’s stuck that says like the kind of company value tends to do really great research intends to have really good products just it’s just fascinating. Yeah, that’s absolutely true based on the experience that I have to not not quite as long as yourself but it is interesting even just reflecting on some of my own personal experiences where I’ve been on teams that had I mean 20 plus designers and researchers on it and we still have those those challenges and then on the flip side. I’ve been part of teams that this was brand-new and
We were just really hungry for it. And they’re like great. Let’s do more of it. We love with this is what this is helping us inform and how to make our decisions and stuff like that. Yeah. I mean it is interesting. It kind of reminds me on an individual level creating buy-in for research is one of those popular challenges to you know, if you’re trying to convince especially if you’re an agency or a freelancer and you’re trying to sort of cell research as part of the process, I think it can be a huge Challenge and it’s like I always just sit there. Oh, I worked with for years and just a great work in the Civic.
Set a new book on the Civic Tech space. She always says and this is something we used to say a lot I think is so true. You have to just do it and and have people attend. There’s no other way to sell people on the power of those, you know, at least call sessions than just having them watch and it’s such a fascinating thing. Why is that? You know, why is it so hard to sort of create buy-in for koala least? It’s just fascinating. I don’t know. Yeah. I mean I’ve experienced that I think and you reminded me of something else that I have tried to
practice in my past is that I feel like getting people to want to trust or accept those findings and out comes from research happens. Well before you ever do any research for me, it’s always been about establishing really good relationships with your business partners your stakeholders. Even Executives. Honestly making it really clear like here’s what here’s what I’m here to do and how I can actually help you here so I can be valuable to you. This is what you should expect from me. And then when that time comes it’s not a surprise and it’s not
A new thing where all of a sudden we are telling me what to do based on Research you did but like who are you again? And tell ya me about your process, right? Like, you know, I’ve already had that conversation. You already said here’s how we’re going to go about this. This is how I want to be able to help you in our organization and maybe the expectations are set where there’s less of a question about that Holy. Yeah. I know. I think you’re right and and it’s a lot easier to get somebody to attend your your first session if you have built a good relationship first. Yeah, you know, that’s another really great Point too because I think that’s it’s always a challenge.
And you know, I think and Jared has talked to Jared spool for those just unclear. He’s talked about this for a long time to where it’s like, you know, do these kind of like field trips make it a team sport and get everybody to watch it. But yeah, I mean, uh, you’re not going to get somebody to attend a meeting who they don’t even know who you are, right? It doesn’t matter. What kind of meaning it is you Thurston on their calendar. Everybody’s busy right was people don’t like meetings all that much and such as another one to add to the pile. It’s like wow, who is this? Why should I all this? Yeah kind of starting, you know, two steps back as it is.
Reyes out of everything that you’ve seen and still working deeply in the space, you know, even though you may or may not be doing your research every day anymore. Where do you see us going from here? Like what you know, what is ux research gonna be in the next year or three years? That’s a great question. I see it expanding still which is I think surprising to my ten year ago self more than anything because I I felt sure of many many years ago man. This is it like it can’t possibly get any bigger than it already is and then it is just exploded since then. So I
I definitely keep seeing it increasing which is a funny element to what we were talking about earlier of like what is the you know, how are people pressing up against demonstrating value? I mean, it’s obviously valuable because companies continue to invest in it and teams keep growing and the volume quantity of research Quan qual keeps growing too. So there’s clearly a thirst are calls talks about this in so many wonderful ways to you know, there’s a thirst for like a human voice that comes from all corners of big.
He’s in small companies heal other people do want to feel more connected to the people. They’re building before and that’s that’s a real human desire. You know, we want to connect and we want to understand I think for the most part and so providing that voice just becomes more and more critical whether that’s through, you know metrics or through qual sessions, you know, that’s all painting a sort of picture and I just think that we’ll see more creativity with the way that happens obviously things will get faster. That’s just the nature of the Beast and you know, they’ll be more tools and more options.
But I just see that growing above all which is still crazy. But I think that’s how it’s going to go. Yeah, really? Well said I’ve seen some of the patterns of that myself too. So that’s it’s an interesting perspective. You know, it also kind of reminds me of you mentioned, you know, bolt Peters kind of akwa hired by Facebook way back in the day and I mean, here’s the thing everything’s going to get faster. They coined the term move fast and break things right at this point. Nothing went wrong. There are no consequences all everything’s all good. Exactly exactly my point right and
And yet The Duality of that is that they invested so heavily and they and they took on a company that specialized in ux research, you know? Yeah, so it’s like what are we talking about? What that you know, and I think it’s useful question to be asked of somebody like yourself. Who were you were there to see some of the some of the inside of that? I think I think it’s very well documented this point. Hey, we shouldn’t just move fast and break things and I think part of why we see ux research growing is because because of that realization, but also even just like ethically Civic
Ali we all I think as an industry and as a society recognize the need more than ever of being mindful of each other because of are connected so I don’t know what my question is there, but I guess I just wanted to float that by you, you know, so probably no, I think it’s a yeah and I share your interest in that kind of tension and I think there’s just God probably a lot of us think about this all day now because there’s so much going on. We’re like if any of us work in technology are we accidentally destroying democracy like does does the whole information?
Wants to be free thing. I mean, there’s just so much writing in so much work right now going into like what have we done? What is the true impact of the stuff me my undergrad major at UC, San Diego was called the social impact of digital technology. And you know, I don’t think even that was 1999. So, oh my God, however, many years ago. That was I wasn’t that Roar about it. I mean, you know, I think a lot of us have been skeptical about what the potential downsides
these things can be but we’re living through right now is brings everything into such scrutiny because we’re like, oh my god. Oh, like what have we built structures that are dismantling. You know what we previously thought of as shared information and you know democratic ideals and you know, I think that actually hopefully will lead to us coming to a better place and I may be one of the reasons why I’ve stayed working in ux research for so long is because I find that giving people a voice
Is of Merit, you know, no matter what we’re building and finding diverse voices and that’s probably why still working participant management stuff to is like finding the right participants for any given context to share their voice is still I think inherently good thing could be wrong, but that’s what I believe. Yeah. No, absolutely. You know, this is a it’s a big very important topic. That’s also very timely right now and I think a lot of folks are looking into it. It’s not one that we should skirt talking about and idea refreshingly. I’ve
I’ve seen our industry be very open and eager to sort of hash through this stuff. I don’t think there is any answer to it right now other than to say honestly as ux people as ux researchers. We should have a big voice and and frankly we have a direct and big responsibility to act as a voice of reason and consideration on some of those things because
You know, I think what got us there and maybe this is what you were referring to. So, you know, correct me. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But the whole idea of move fast break things or just let’s get answers to questions on how we can make the thing more desirable and more people willing to buy or use or click or do this or do that without actually thinking of the long-term ramifications of that that is our responsibility. It’s not our fault all and every case but it is our responsibility, right? Yeah for sure and there was a, you know, the uxr comp keynote is a guy that we bumper you saw a lot of us.
It’s just such a wonderful kind of discussion of that of like these are the ethical responsibilities that ux researchers have this is where we’re failing forcing, you know, white supremacist structures and just because we’re not knowing what the potential future output and consequences could be does it give us an excuse not to to do better so I completely agree. Yeah. I think I agree that’s a big focus of where we are not new responsibilities, but maybe one that we’ve become aware more aware of and and I think that that’s just a good
I think it will continue improved from there. I’m hopeful that it will yes and for sure we covered a lot of ground in our chat, you know, and we’re coming up. I need to be respectful of your time. And one of the things I’d like to ask at the end of sort of every episode as I ask our guest if I forgot everything we talked about and somebody came up to you and said, hey Nate, what was the podcast all about? How would you how would you answer that question? How would you summarize it for him? Oh, man, that’s a great way to frame it. I think what pops out first in my mind is we talked a lot about details of remote research and
Additional ux research and then overlap with market research, but I think the meat of it was around valuing the work that we do and ux research and communicating that value to other people. Well so that you can continue to do it nice. I like it. Is there anything that you want to share with folks that we didn’t get a chance to talk about today? No, I mean, you know, we’re talking about this at the beginning but I think I love that you do these podcasts and always happy to jump on and zoom with you and love what you guys are doing other Alias and you know, it’s just fun to chat.
Right. Nice. I’m very appreciative of you taking the time and doing this. It was an awesome conversation. I know people are going to have a lot to take away from this and very timely stuff from somebody who’s been in the field for a long time. So I appreciate it on behalf of everybody else. Thanks again for jumping on. Yeah. Thanks for having me man. Pleasure. Awesome. All right, everybody. I’ll see you next time. This podcast is brought to you by Aurelius the research and insights tool that helps you analyze search and share all your research in one place so you can go from data to insights to action.
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