People Nerds

Conversations with people who share our passion 
for understanding what makes people tick

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Train Your Team to Usability Test in Just an Afternoon

Teaching your team to do tactical research can be time-saving and career-changing. Here’s an outline for an interactive workshop you can run today.

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Here’s How to Make your Study Design Remote-Mobile Ready

Remote-mobile research can get you some powerful data—but to gather it effectively, you’ll need to shift your study design. Here’s how to set yourself up for success.

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LexisNexis on Uniting Data, Emotion, and Ethics in Legal UX Research

Jeanette Fuccella from LexisNexis on the power of video ethnography to break down stereotypes and inspire understanding.

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Marry Data Science with User Research. Ethical Design Depends on It.

IDEO alum Ovetta Sampson on the future of data science, UX, and bringing forth the individual behind every data point.

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How to Write a User Research Plan That Sets Your Project Up for Success

Some logistical headaches are inevitable. Many can be relieved with a well-structured, well-written, research plan. Here’s a go-to reference for crafting one effectively.

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How to Conduct a Diary Study: A Complete Start-to-Finish Guide

If you want see your participants up close and in-context—diary studies should be a part of your methodological toolkit. Here’s how to run one with fewer hiccups and more impact.

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Letting Curiosity Guide You From "First Answer" to "Final Answer"

Patreon’s Thaniya Keereepart on the right way to ask “why” and the moments that reframe the way we think about our impact.

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I Got Attacked in the YouTube Comments Section (So I Tagged and Analyzed the Data)

Is negativity in the comments section as contagious as it feels? Director of dscout’s research consultancy Stefani Bachetti analyzed the YouTube data to find out.

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How to Dig Past the Surface Data with PetSafe

PetSafe’s Hannah Ferguson and Katie Taylor on faster, broader, more engaging ways to surface the “why.”

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Changing the Game with UX Research

EA’s Veronica Zammitto on designing for the most passionate (and demanding) users in tech

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User Research Workshops: Why, When, and How You Should Ideate as a Team

Motivating your stakeholders. Unearthing new insights. Building trust. Reducing bias. There are countless reasons to host workshops as a UXR. Here’s how to execute one with confidence.

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The 6 Research Process Pillars of a More Dynamic Customer Journey Map

Too many customer journey maps focus entirely on what your users are doing. Let’s take a moment to talk about why they’re doing it and how you can pave the way to make their path-to-decision smoother.

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The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your User Research Process)

Research Ops Manager at Atlassian Kate Towsey talks to us about clearing the way for great research with an organizational machete.

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The Jobs to be Done Interviewing Style: Who are our Users Trying to Become?

How this popular framework can guide your user interviews.

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4 Design Principles for Gender-Identity Inclusion (and How to Get Them Implemented)

When a form prompts you to choose your gender, you’re usually given two options: male or female. Not infrequently, this is mandatory. Not surprisingly, this is excluding people. Here’s how we can do better. 

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Untangling the Deeper Concept

Author of Practical Empathy Indi Young breaks down why so many of us look for research patterns in the wrong places. 

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Navigating Uncharted Experience Design Waters with Best Buy’s Matthew Doty

Matthew Doty breaks down the inspiration and execution of Best Buy’s future-forward vision for experience design.

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6 Common Research Implementation Roadblocks—And How to Move Past Them

We asked leading researchers at Target, Google, and Even how they go from “distilling great insights” to “getting something done about them.” Here are their top tips.

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Project Management for User Researchers: How to Ensure a Smooth & Focused Project

The role of a user researcher goes beyond just running research. With effective project management skills, researchers can ensure that stakeholders regularly include research in their work.

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You Should be Doing More Generative Research. Here’s a Guide to Get Started.

Here’s why generative research matters, when you should be doing it, and an action plan for starting at your company.

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How We Hack Tech (And What That Says About Us)

Clinical psychologist and former Intel research scientist Margaret Morris on how individual technology hacks shine a light on what users really crave.

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More, Broader, Faster: A Brief Intro to Effective Remote Research

Here’s a succinct, back-to-basics primer on how to maximize the impact and efficiency of your next remote study

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7 Ways to Ensure Your Research Insights are Heard and Acted Upon

If your insights are shared in a report, but no one is there to read it, does it even make a sound? Use these tactics to guarantee your findings are met with “wows” and action instead of “huhs?” and “mehs.” 

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How The North Face Captures Context From Elite Athletes

Vanessa Dillof’s strategies for engaging hard-to-reach populations, democratizing research and building deliverables for key stakeholders.

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5 Major Lessons from 1000+ Participant Screeners

A member of dscout’s Customer Success team shares pro tips on how to make screeners work for you and your research.

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How to Present Your Research So That Stakeholders Take Notice and Take Action

Use these 10 tips to keep your research reports actionable, informative, and fun.

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A Look Inside Your Users' Heads

Headspace’s Design Research Lead on building qualitative research on the expertise of behavioral science and 6,000 years of meditation theory.

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A Simplified, Mixed Methods Roadmap: How to Marry Quant + Qual for More Insightful Results

Here are a few easy ways to validate your qualitative data, or dig deeper into the “why” behind your quantitative metrics.

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11 Experts Weigh In: What Does the Future of User Research Look like?

Top researchers from Google, Lyft, Uber, and LinkedIn give us their take on where UR is moving and the challenges we’re set to face as the field grows.

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9 Reasons Your Personas Fail (and What to Do to Make Them Stick)

Too reductive, or needlessly complicated. Slow to adapt to user needs, or adjusted too fast to be adopted. Personas have become a loaded term. We distilled some of the noise.

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People Nerds San Francisco Recap: Top Insights from 27 Speakers

On May 1st we got 250+ user researchers together for a day of insight-sharing, question-raising, and curiosity-building. Here’s what we learned.

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Even Further In-Context: Better Recruiting and Collaboration Through dscout

What’s new to the dscout platform for remote qual—source qualified participants easier, share across your team and create video playlists in the platform

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Finding the 'Aha!' Moment

Expert user researcher Steve Portigal breaks down why thinking about bias and mistakes is the key to joyful discovery.

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Stuck? Here are 9 Ways to Analyze User Research for Meaningful Takeaways

Here are a few tricks for energizing your research synthesis—even if you’re not excited about your qualitative data.

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Co-designing Cancer Recovery

Hopelab President Margaret Laws delves into the company’s teen-centric, tech-enabled design process.

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9 Research and Productivity Hacks for UX/UR Teams of One

On a small research team with big ideas? Learn how to prioritize the big-picture goals while juggling the day-to-day challenges—all in a day’s work.

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The Unlimited Value of User Feedback

David Keegan of investment app Acorns on the high-value ROI of feedback from users.

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17 Tips the Pros Use to Master One-on-One Interviews

Make the most of your research session with these tactics meant to improve prep, flow, and evaluation.

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The Well-Curated User Research Resource Roundup You've Been Looking For

The most useful resources for UR and UX pros…bookmark now, thank us later.

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How to Ace the Dreaded Whiteboard Challenge

Do you have a process in place if you’re asked to do a whiteboard challenge as part of your next interview? Learn how an experienced UX researcher thinks about and does it.

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Want More “Agile” Qualitative Research? Take it Remote.

Working with the agile methodology or at a company where stakeholders use sprints? Learn how to make your research faster with pro tips from Carrie Yury and Kirsten Lewis. Plus, a look at remote agile research in the dscout platform.

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The UX Evolution

Former UXPA International president Jen Romano-Bergstrom on the industry’s rapid growth, biggest challenges, and where researchers should be doing even more to break down boundaries.

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Stories That Make People Care

Serial host Sarah Koenig on compelling, empathetic storytelling in the age of audio.

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Amplifying User Voice

Sonos’ Kirsten Lewis on why researchers are explorers, and how prototyping makes an ongoing conversation with users possible.

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7 Ways to Bring Creativity to Your Research For Better Results

Creative research design is a win for researchers, participants, and business outcomes. Here are a few inventive techniques for getting the most impact out of your next project.

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Inside the Google Empathy Lab

Behind the scenes with the team at Google that’s moving beyond design thinking to design feeling. 

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Understanding Personas That Power the Age of the Side Hustle

How income-building app Steady developed foundational user personas through longitudinal research with dscout Diary.

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Finding the People Behind ‘Supply’: Human-Centered User Research at Groupon

A conversation with Senior UX Researcher Joanna Vodopivec on how Groupon listens to its customers to understand the reality of the small-business owners it serves.

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Mastering the art of the interview—with the master interviewer

New York Times Magazine journalist David Marchese breaks down the art of conversation and getting impactful answers from an interview.

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Putting Neighborhood Research on the Map

How researchers at Trulia learned about what people want in a place, why it varies by city and by neighborhood, and how Trulia Neighborhoods is fueled by remote qual.

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Finding the Golden Moments of the Winter Games Experience

Craig Saila and Irfan Pirbhai on how a diary study of Canadians’ user experience with the Olympic Winter Games put how people experience the event in context.

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Make Your Research Eye-Opening

Insights from women in research on how to build momentum in your ogranization with qualitative research, and strategies for engaging key stakeholders with what you’ve found

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Empowering the Electorate

BallotReady’s deep dive into how to engage voters on political issues and create a more informed electorate.

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How to code and tag qualitative data to unlock research insights

People Nerds share their best tips for coding and tagging qualitative research effectively.

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Chicago’s hidden gems, from the people who know best

Chicago locals used dscout to recommend hidden gems and hot spots where MidwestUX conference attendees can eat, drink, see and explore.

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Inside 'Jobs'

How Jobs-to-be-Done pioneer Tony Ulwick used a “humiliating failure” to fuel a career helping companies innovate to meet customer needs.

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Hawaii recommendations from those who know best

Ahead of the EPIC 2018 conference in Honolulu, we used our own contextual research platform to gather insights from Hawaii locals on the can’t-miss views, cuisines, and excursions.

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Points of Entry

Public Broadcasting Executive Editor and veteran Journalist Madhulika Sikka describes how to connect a story to an audience of one or one million. 

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How the brain decides what to think

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot on why humans are wired for optimism, influence, and imagination.

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Why can’t we settle the “is a hot dog a sandwich?” debate?

dscout asked nearly 600 people the oft-debated question… and then asked them to record their answers in the moments they were chowing down. Here’s what our in-context research told us about the underlying, surprising reasons we just can’t shake the great “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” debate.

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Talk to me (it's Human Nature)

Maslo founder Cristina Poindexter shares insights from user research on the voice journaling app encouraging users to talk to artificial intelligence.

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Humanity in the Machine Age

Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali explains how he conducts qualitative research in human rights crises, and the future of humanity in the artificial intelligence era.

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Check out my checkout

Shopify’s Emma Craig uncovers what makes us playful and what makes us stressed when we shop online—and why making room for human moments is key. 

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Understanding what ails us

Healthtech anthropologist Rachel Ceasar on the inextricable link between cultural and socio-economic bias, and how healthy we really are.

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Are we all Cyborgs?

Felicity Heathcote-Márcz tells us why understanding cyborgs is essential to understanding humans. 

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The many challenges of researching gun violence

Criminal Justice professor and researcher Lacey Wallace on what we know—and don’t know—about gun violence.

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Enterprise UX revs its engines

LinkedIn’s Enterprise UX team on how research is changing the Enterprise landscape.

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Enterprise UXR Unlocks Potential

LinkedIn’s Jesse Livingston on how enterprise research is fully enabling people’s ultimate potential. 

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Enterprise UX Evolves Holistically

LinkedIn’s John Garvie on how research is changing the Enterprise UX landscape.

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Enterprise UXR's Hidden Treasure

LinkedIn’s Elizabeth Gin on the power of the “hidden user” in Enterprise UX.

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Enterprise UXR's Ecosystem

LinkedIn’s Anton Zadorozhnyy on the multifaceted nature of Enterprise research.

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Teens In Context

Eclipse Experience combines home visits and mobile ethnography to get a complete picture of small town home life.

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People Are Your Data

Your job as a researcher is to be a catalyst, a guide who enables the entire company—from the C-suite on down—to get as close as possible to the people the company is serving.

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In the People Nerd Library

The books our People Nerds can’t put down… and some more that they’ve written. 

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Equity in Learning

UChicago’s Nicole Beechum on the experience of students in urban school districts from an equity and strengths-based perspective.

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'Agile Qualitative Research' is not an oxymoron!

A qualitative researcher of 20 years, Carrie Yury has found that agile can make qualitative research process and findings more visible to stakeholders and even create new hunger for user understanding.

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Riders, meet Drivers. Drivers, meet Riders.

Uber’s Molly Stevens walks us through the company’s recent project designed to foster moments of connection between drivers and riders—including the surprising things they don’t want to know about each other. 

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Connecting the Cultural Dots

Researcher Jonathan Bean is an architect, sustainability consultant, ethnographer, marketing guru, and expert on consumer taste—and he brought all of those skills together to study the cultural and social movement unfolding at a Harlem restaurant. Bean takes us through his interdisciplinary approach to studying the current moment, and the importance of the environment around us.

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Finding the "connective tissue" in human experience

Indigo Books’ Markus Grupp knows that when it comes to deeply human needs—how we’re inspired and how we communicate—algorithms don’t hold a candle to person to person connection.

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ConTEXTual Feeling

Maci Peterson, founder of On Second Thought, wants to give us a chance to correct ourselves, and improve the way we communicate in the process. 

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Curating Context

Design researcher Yasmine Khan shows us how exhibit design can help stakeholders and product teams grasp research insights in a whole new way.

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Gorillas in our midst: Observation over conversation

People Nerd John Dominski has spent countless hours studying gorillas. We chat about how the experience taught him to be a better observer, and how his learnings can be applied to human research.

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User research trends we're watching in 2018

2017 was all about breaking down silos and walking in someone else’s shoes. So, what can it tell us about what to expect in the coming year? Here, four trends we’ll be watching unfold in user research in 2018.

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Advocating with impact

For the second discussion in our series about “Research Roadblocks,” dscout sat down with a group of People Nerds to ask: What can researchers do to ensure our insights actually have influence?

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Field Report: Researching disasters in real time

David O’Donnell and his team at Salesforce Ignite were only a week into product development on a new disaster relief tool when Hurricane Harvey hit. Here’s how they captured first hand accounts of people’s disaster experiences, and the invaluable insights uncovered.

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Field Report: The Princess Problem

Researcher Karen Eisenhauer conducted a linguistic study of the twelve films in the “Disney Princess canon” to see just what these films are really saying about gender roles.

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Power of questions, power of silence

Leadership consultant Lisa Stefanac, group behavior expert, breaks down the importance of good questions, the value of silence, and everything you can learn about yourself from how you play with others.

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Games with Researchers

With the 2017 Corporate Researchers Conference happening right in our neck of the woods, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to gather as many people-curious researchers as possible in one room for a night of drinks, games, conversation, and of course, People Nerd portraits!

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Can We All Just Get Happy?

Ran Zilca, Chief Data-Science Officer at Happify, talks about what makes us happy—both what the data tells us, and what he found on his own personal 6,000 mile journey across the country.

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The Art of Really Listening

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alexandra Nikolchev is a People Nerd whose work centers on social justice issues and immigration. Those kinds of narratives, she says, require filmmakers to leave their preconceptions at the door in order to really listen.

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Fighting for Research Integrity

Recently, we convened a group of People Nerds to explore the concept of research success, the roadblocks that prevent us from getting there, and what’s really at stake when challenges arise.

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Community/camaraderie for a slash generation

Allie Mahler and Scott Weiss have spent most of 2017 talking to teenagers, and they’re feeling optimistic about the future. We sat down to learn what the newest generation really wants. 

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Reading the Room

Tips to better understand group dynamics, pick-up on non-verbal cues, and keep people engaged in your next big meeting.

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Becoming a better researcher and a better human

Aryel Cianflone started researching researchers to get better at her job. But quickly, she learned that everyone’s approach and process is so different that it is worth sharing.

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Why we like what we like

Anne Helen Petersen really knows popularity. At Buzzfeed she dissects the role of celebrities in our daily lives and what it really means to have someone as your spirit animal.

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All in the family

Is curiosity a learned trait? Julie and Stefanie Norvaisas discuss working together, learning from each other, and the differences between researching for the digital and physical realms.

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Field Report: The power of fandom

Susan Kresnicka’s recent 13 month study of fandom revealed that nearly everyone is a fan of something and what that means to brands who want to empower their loyalists.

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Product managers are people (nerds) too

dscout’s head of product, Jonathan Fairman, talks to fellow product management nerd + people nerd, Suzanne Abate, on the 100PM podcast about why great product managers are the leaders of user empathy.

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The hats of the researcher

A researcher’s job doesn’t end when the data has been collected. We asked people nerds about the other hats they wear most often and why they do it.

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The power of story

Lance Weiler talks about the power of collective narrative, the medium as an innovation driver, why stories are more powerful than data, and how the human experience is at the core of it all.

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Technologist, humanist, venture capitalist

Josh Elman knows what people want. A visionary product manager who helped grow some of the most prominent startups in Silicon Valley into the juggernauts they are today, Elman seems to have a sixth sense for zeroing in on what’s next.

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The objects that define us

How many things have you touched today? Your phone, most likely. Your favorite coffee mug? A toothbrush? The clothes on your back? What else? If your answer is “nothing,” Paula Zuccotti suggests you think harder.

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What's your motto?

We asked the professionally curious researchers, strategists, designers and storytellers for their number one research rule and why. Here’s what drives the people nerd tribe.

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The business of memory

Dr. Brian Levine is a neuropsychologist and cognitive neuroscientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and at the University of Toronto, who’s specialized in memory for over 20 years.

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Mapping the unmapped

Hsu sees a very clear through path in their diverse work: “Anywhere I’ve gone I’ve always tried to figure out a research question that could better serve the community that I think is underserved.”

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Heidegger, Ford and the art of sensemaking

Madsbjerg argues that in order to really understand what’s going on around us, we have to place the same value on the humanities as we do on data and science. 

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Amplifying the individual voice

We chat with Kat Lee to learn how Square, the tech unicorn, breaks out of their bubble, the importance of individual voices, and what it takes to make a true “People Nerd.”

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From Kickstarter to LostArts, Charles Adler’s mission is creative fulfillment

Adler’s most famous as a founder of Kickstarter; he enabled regular people to help other regular people to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. And then he scaled the process.

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More than checking the empathy box

For Martha Cotton, the promise of design-thinking is in continually solving problems driven by ongoing development of empathy. We discuss building deep human understanding into design at Fjord and how she teaches it at Northwestern. 

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Starting a research mini-movement at InVision

InVision’s Prinicipal Researcher and design anthropoligist, Charles Pearson, chatted with dscout recently about how he’s weaving qualitative, discovery-oriented research into InVision’s “ship, ship, ship” agile environment. 

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On UX research at start-ups and asking "why"

Rick Bond has conducted, scaled and evangelized research at startups across the bay area. We discuss how he builds the story for research within organizations and what it takes to be an effective design research leader.

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The how and why of building UX teams from scratch

Natalie Hanson has had anthropology on the brain since at least the third grade. She’s followed her curiosities in the decades since, from her Ph.D. in anthropology to building out the UX teams for both SAP and ZS Associates.

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An interview with Google Living Room researcher Supriya Gokarn

Google is a data driven company, but big data doesn’t always explain ‘why’. Supriya Gokarn chats about how she brings empathy to Google Home in our first live People Nerds event.

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Breaking bubbles in 2017

After the US election in 2016, it became clear that we are living in our own bubbles. So, we asked our people nerds how they plan on breaking their metaphorical bubbles.

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A lifelong obsession with patterns and people

Kelly Goto is obsessed with patterns and people. It drives her evangelism for great design and impactful research, which led her to launch gotomedia and gotoresearch.

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People Nerds inspirations for 2017

Storytelling is such a big part of the life of people nerds—both finding and sharing the stories of others. We wondered then, what stories and storytellers do they recommend we add to our reading lists this year?

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Netflix global head of insights, Adrien Lanusse

Lanusse sat with dscout to share his passion for curiosity and empathy, his own multicultural background, and his understanding of the threads that connect viewers and consumers around the world.

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CX leadership: A congruence of heart and habit

Jeanne Bliss, a Chief Customer Officer, is an advocate for caring about the people who care about people. We chat what makes CX team and why CX needs UX. 

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Changing the world with user research

With a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, Aruna Balakrishnan has devoted her career to understanding what makes people tick, and how that ticking works with technology.

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Shopalong or remote research?

Myles spent 20 years at P&G studying the intent of in-store shoppers and became an expert in knowing what it’s like in the aisle. Now at ChaseDesign he uses new tech to replace dated techniques.

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Google UX researcher Sara Cambridge

Sarah Cambridge is Google’s unofficial diary study expert for good reasons. Over her career, she’s taking research to lead design teams and brought design thinking to research organizations. 

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Cultural anthropology for entertainment

Anthropology has its place in business. In fact, Susan Kresnicka would tell you every company needs a few anthropologists. She explains how studying culture and ideas creates better products. 

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Transforming user insights into business value

Combining a love for science and a need to understand people, Katy Mogal has designed her research teams to provide guidance in every product decision. User Experience means much more than just product validation. 

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A storytelling pioneer in design research

Christopher Ireland, a design and research leader, talks about how storytelling is half of a great research project and what it takes to get to the core of a design solution.

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Experience design and the creative revolution

Dan Makoski has seen true innovation happen and he knows the great ideas rarely come from the design leads in the room. The most-loved ideas come from the most ordinary people.

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Superhero capes in the researcher's wardrobe

Journalists and qualitative researchers — the best ones anyway — are usually people nerds: humans obsessed with understanding their fellow humans. But not all of them are extroverts.

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