Mixed Methods – "Triangulating The Truth"
Mixed Methods is possibly the most well-known podcast focusing on UX research. Created by Aryel Cianflone (UX research lead at LinkedIn in Jan 2017), this podcast has great conversations from some talented UX leaders.
In this episode, she speaks with Aaron Sedley, a Staff UX researcher at Google. He's spent 16 years there and has seen the evolution of product design and how to measure attitudes and what it means to "track" happiness.
“As UX researchers, we have an obligation to think broadly beyond our areas of expertise and one of the first things we teach when we do survey research, it's not a hammer and not everything is a nail to be surveyed.”
- Aaron Sedley ("Triangulating the Truth" @ 23 min 20 sec)
Listen to "Triangulating The Truth."
Aaron doesn't come from a pure statistics or quantitative research background (he focused on international politics in his undergrad) but still is an insightful quantitative-dominant researcher.
His knowledge stems from his on-the-job experience, showcasing that quantitative research is based on practice, experience & exposure and not some innate mental ability.
Awkward Silences – "#34 - Self Care As A UX Researcher"
Awkward Silences is a UX research-focused podcast from the company, User Interviews (a research recruiting product). The two hosts are the VPs of growth/marketing and product, Erin May & JH Forster, and sit down with Vivianne Castillo.
She is a breath fresh air in the UX research world because she speaks about the hidden side of being a "person who's meant to draw insights from lots of other people."
She has a background in counseling and psychology and uses it as a senior design researcher at Salesforce to help them figure out the human element within their business.
“I'll write on a piece of paper and I'll ask myself things like: ‘How am I feeling today?,’ ‘What are the things I'm bringing into this session?,’ and ‘How could that impact how I understand and interpret this information?’”
- Vivianne Castillo ( "#34 - Self Care as a UX Researcher" @ 16 min 25 sec)
Listen to "#34 - Self Care As A UX Researcher."
This episode talks about the human side of being a researcher that people might feel but not speak about. Qualitative research is dependent on people studying people and this inherently brings bias.
Castillo talks about how acknowledging these biases can help lower any assumptions you might be carrying into any research session.
Microsoft Research Podcast – "074 - CHI Squared With Dr. Ken Hinckley & Dr. Meredith Ringel"
The Microsoft Research Podcast follows the work of the Microsoft Research (MSR) team. The conversations can be complex to follow but they do a great job of connecting the dots between UX and technology.
In this episode, the host, Gretchen Huizinga, talks with Dr. Ken Hinckley, a principal researcher who's been at Microsoft for almost 25 years and Dr. Meredith Ringel, a senior principal researcher & research manager that leads the Ability group.
They both speak a lot about designing technology for marginalized communities.
“...that maybe goes beyond just involving people as interview or user study participants, but also actually having a participatory design process that involves people from the target communities directly as co-creators of technology.“
- Dr. Meredith Ringel ("074 - CHI Squared with Dr. Ken Hinckley & Dr. Meredith Ringel" @ 15 min 06 sec)
This episode can help you remember that UX research is done to build something for people, not for profits. The two guests talk about how their work in the Ability group is all about understanding the limitations and often disregarded strengths of users from all walks of life.
Use this episode as way to think who participates in your research and inclusive your product design process is.
Usable - "Haunted Houses And The UX Of Fear"
Usable is a podcast hosted by the Quartz Creative team, where they "explore the unexpected user experience considerations behind some of life's most common objects, places and experiences."
In this episode, the team has a conversation with Scott Simmons, the creative director at Pittsburgh's ScareHouse.
They talk about how Simmons approaches building a haunted house - the low moments, the design & contextual aspect of a haunted house and the elements in between.
“The process [of designing a haunted house] is remarkably data-driven.”
- Scott Simmons ("Haunted Houses and the UX of Fear" @ 9 min 05 sec)
Listen to "Haunted Houses And The UX Of Fear."
Beyond being incredibly interesting and offering a sense of nostalgia (think about the last haunted house you went to!), this episode is a clear example of UX research that's not digital or hardware, but service-based.
As you listen, you can't help but imagine conducting some of the research and being immersed into two very powerful emotions: anticipation & fear.
Dollars To Donuts - "7. Judd Antin Of Airbnb" (Jan. 2016)
In this 2016 interview, Steve Portigal chats with the then Director of Research at Airbnb, Judd Antin.
Judd is an experienced researcher, having worked at Yahoo, Facebook and now leading the guest-facing experience design practice at Airbnb. Judd is an excellent speaker, interlacing important research concepts with how to actually build a product that people love.
Judd explains how and why UX researchers will travel to hosts' homes, following up on qualitative research with survey design and how to not rely on research reports to communicate to stakeholders.
“We may put together a Keynote, but that’s not the primary deliverable...they’ve been getting it the whole time.”
- Judd Antin ("7. Judd Antin of Airbnb" @ 22 min 40 sec)
Listen to "7. Judd Antin Of Airbnb."
As a researcher, you get better through experience and exposure. This episode gives exposure on how to think about research, how to interact with stakeholders and how to focus on impact.
Judd's perspective has been cultivated by years of experience, allowing you to learn quickly about what works, what doesn't and what to consider without going through similar mistakes.
What's Wrong With UX - "Your Research Character"
If you want an approachable, interesting and human way of approaching UX research & design, start here. The hosts use various UX terms, define them clearly and help you understand the shared language that's required to build products.
The two hosts, Laura Klein and Kate Rutter, have very lively, NSFW and informative conversations on various product design & research topics.
While they don't focus solely on research, they offer a uniquely engaging take on approaching product design (they also have a great blog at: www.usersknow.com).
“A lot of people go in and their research persona is 'now, I'm going to read these questions off of a list' and that does turn it into feeling like a true-or-false test or an inquisition.”
- Laura Klein ("Your Research Character" @ 7 min 29 sec)
Listen to "Your Research Character."
The concept of the "research persona" or "research character" isn't something common but is very important to consider. Who you are in your daily life and who you have to become in your qualitative & direct research sessions are (and should) be two separate things.
Laura & Kate dive into this concept and help you understand the line between standardized & human research.
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The UX Intern - "Luke Wroblewski"
The UX Intern is a must-listen for new or interested UX researchers. The host, Wesley Noble, set out to have conversations with some of the most well-known UX design & research leaders. In this episode, he sits down with a product director at Google, Luke Wroblewski.
Previously, Luke was the Chief Design Architect at Yahoo, sold his startup, Polar, to Google and author of a foundational book called "Mobile First".
The two talk about design patterns, what's next for designing for mobile and more.
“...oh, here's what you do if you have a giant menu: you just put it behind these three lines and ta-da! [sarcastic] You have a mobile design...”
- Luke Wroblewski ("Luke Wroblewski" @ 15 min 24 sec)
Listen to "Luke Wroblewski."
Wroblewski approaches building something from a design, engineering and product perspective. At the 12:51 mark, the two have a great conversation about the when, why & how to use the hamburger menu design pattern.
As a researcher, this offers a very clear view into the elements that build up some of the best-designed digital products out there.
A final note
Podcasts can be incredibly helpful in your UX journey. They allow you to get a chance to see problems from someone else's perspective. Find shows, hosts or topics that you enjoy, listen regularly and take notes. If possible, after you listening, writing down a few main ideas from each can help you retain them better.