People Nerds

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

PN Christina Harrington HERO
How to Design for the Margins

Designers need to be mindful that they’re designing with their users and not just for them. Dr. Christina Harrington believes community-based participatory design can get us there.

PN Etienne Fang HERO
How We (Re)Define “Having It All”

What it means to “have it all” has changed. Etienne Fang, Principal Researcher at Amazon, wants to explore how people around the world redefine it. 

PN Antionette Carroll HERO
How to Redesign for Justice

If systems of injustice and inequality can be designed, that means they can be redesigned too. Antionette Carroll, founder of the Creative Reaction Lab, teaches us about redesigning for real, community-led change.

PN Meg Ferrill HERO
How We Can Tell Better Stories

Telling a good story is more than a beginning, middle, and end. Meg Ferrill of The Moth and Nimbly breaks down the fundamentals of storytelling.

PN Senongo A HERO
Good Design is Cross-Cultural

Every day, the world around us becomes more and more globalized — and, as a result, so must our work.

PN Lauren Isaacson HERO
Why (and How) to Pay Attention to Accessibility in Design

When it comes to design, there’s no such thing as edge cases. Lauren Isaacson explains why.

B5p o5z A
Discovering the Art of Creative Rebellion

He’s been a starving artist in Europe, painted for Shugendo priests in Japan, and gotten rip-roaringly drunk with Beat poets. Now John S. Couch wants to help designers everywhere remember how to do the most crucial aspect of their craft: create.

PN Autumn S HERO
How to Find the Bears in Your Forest

Autumn Sanders Foster believes orgs can face challenges around racial injustice and inequity in the world head on. To do that, they need to start by facing them in the office.

At the Intersection of Tech and Commerce

After working in some of the biggest publications in tech, Dan Frommer decided to strike out on his own with his latest venture: The New Consumer.

PN Behzod HERO
How to be a Teacher—Not an Oracle

Democratizing UX is crucial for any scaling org—but what does that look like in practice?

How to Listen To (and Learn From) Your Body

Learning is more than what we take in with our brain. Dr. Simon Roberts shows us how we can unlock the potential of “embodied knowledge.”

How We Empathize in UX Matters

Social UX researcher Alba Villamil tells us how designers can better impact disadvantaged communities.

The UX Sense of Service

Civic Tech expert Cyd Harrell on researcher responsibility when it comes to privacy, data, and noise.

The UX Research Adolescence

Lyft’s Head of UX research on what it takes to build a UXR team from the ground up.

How NASA Designs for the Future

NASA UX Designer Krys Blackwood teaches us how to build interfaces for users who are a decade away from using them.

Erika Hall 2056x683
Erika Hall Knows How to Fix Your Design Process (But You’re Probably Not Going to Like It)

The Mule Design co-founder and Just Enough Research author on why doing good research scares us, experience design is a misnomer, and real creativity requires logging off.

PT Cordelia H HERO
How the Thumbtack Team of Three Scaled Research to 200+ Stakeholders

Cordelia Hyland on what “research democratization” really means—and where it can fall short.

PN Vivanne C HERO
Why Self-Care Matters in UX Research

Salesforce’s Vivianne Castillo on avoiding burnout and re-evaluating UX’s favorite buzzword: empathy.

Design in Three Dimensions

Jutta Treviranus, director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre, on how to bring inclusive design to the masses.

PN Ovetta HERO
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.

PN Thaniya K HERO
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.

PN Veronica Z HERO
Changing the Game with UX Research

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

PN Kate T HERO 1
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.

Pn Margie Hero
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.

Pn Priya Hero
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.

Pn Steve Hero
Finding the 'Aha!' Moment

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

Pn Margaretlaws Hero
Co-designing Cancer Recovery

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

Pn David Keegan Hero
The Unlimited Value of User Feedback

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

Pn Jenrb Hero
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.

Pn Sarah Hero 1
Stories That Make People Care

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

PN Kirsten HERO1
Amplifying User Voice

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

Pn Daniellekrettek Hero
Inside the Google Empathy Lab

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

Pn Davidmarchese Hero
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.

Ballotready Hero
Empowering the Electorate

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

Pn Tonyulwick Hero2
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.

Madulikka Sikka Hero New
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. 

Talishalot Hero2
How the brain decides what to think

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

Sherif Amnintl Hero
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.

Rachelceasar Hero
Understanding what ails us

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

Felicityhm Hero
Are we all Cyborgs?

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

Laceywallace Hero4B
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.

Linkedin Ux Hero2
Enterprise UX revs its engines

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

Linkedin Ux Hero Garvie
Enterprise UX Evolves Holistically

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

Linkedin Ux Hero Jesse
Enterprise UXR Unlocks Potential

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

Linkedin Ux Hero Anton
Enterprise UXR's Ecosystem

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

Linkedin Ux Hero Lizgin
Enterprise UXR's Hidden Treasure

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

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.

Equity in Learning

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

'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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Pn Annehpetersen Hero New
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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. 

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.”

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.


Nominate a people nerd

Know someone you’d love to read about in a People Nerd profile? Tell us why