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BlogAwkward Silences
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December 22, 2020

Awkward Silences 2020 Year In Review

This sure wasn’t the year of research we planned for. Awkward Silences hosts Erin May and JH Forster review lessons and guests from 2020.

Carrie Boyd

The year is wrapping up and it’s finally time to say bye forever to 2020 👋. The hosts of Awkward Silences, Erin May and JH Forster, took this opportunity to reflect on some of the things that happened in research this year, what changes they think are here to stay, and what they see on the horizon in 2021. They also revisited some of the best conversations we’ve had on the podcast so far, like chatting with Vivianne Castillo about self-care, Cat Noone about accessibility, and Randy Duke about diversity and inclusion in UXR

Erin and JH talked about…

  • How work and research changed this year.
  • What changes they think are going to stick.
  • What they expect for 2021.


[2:48] Erin and JH talk about the world going remote and vulnerability at work.

[16:08] Dark design patterns and how UXers are working on fixing them.

[19:31] UX Collective's 2020 lessons and what we learned.

[22:49] Accessibility is a growing focus for researchers and designers.

[26:46] How are we going to adjust to life after COVID?

The best stories about user research

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About our hosts

Erin May is the VP of Marketing and Growth at User Interviews. Left brained, right brained. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held.

John-Henry Forster is the VP of Product at User Interviews. Product leader who enjoys learning new things and is working hard to read fewer productivity articles.


Erin: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. And welcome back to Awkward Silences. I am here today with none other than JH Forester. What's up?

JH: [00:00:43] We'll see how this goes. Just the two of us. 

Erin: [00:00:45] Just, yeah, no, I guess just the two of us. Uh, Great. So it's the end of the year. End of what can only be described as 2020? It was just the 2020s of, I don't know it was, it was, it was a tough one. What would you say, JH?

JH: [00:01:06] Yeah, I think a different year than probably anyone who hadn't imagined right. Hard to guess things would have gone the way they did. I think we were talking about before though, right? It's has led to a lot of, you know, breaking of norms and seeing things through new light. And so I think there's been, you know, there's been some silver linings in that regard.

Erin: [00:01:25] Yeah, I think a dumpster fire with silver linings is probably. Probably the right characterization here. Um, Awesome. So today we're gonna do, you know, something, we don't do a lot. We don't have a guest. We're just going to chat about the year in review, some trends and topics of conversation that have dominated the UX and UX research space.

And talk a little bit about what might happen next year. Maybe a fool's errand, but should be fun anyway. So thanks for joining us.

JH: [00:01:56] All right. Where do we start? 

Erin: [00:01:58] All right. So 2020, a lot happened this year. There was and is Coronavirus. Of course. There was and is racial injustice and a lot of attention paid to that.

There was a presidential election. There was an economic meltdown that has disproportionately affected some more than others. There were design sprints. I made all that and figured out how to do them remote instead of in person on a whiteboard. There's a lot of change to how we work and how we design and how we talk to users.

Those are some things that come to mind for me. Where should we jump in JH?

JH: [00:02:48] I think maybe just to start on a lighter note, you know, how people have had to adapt to doing things remotely that they didn't used to do remotely. Right? Whether that be finding ways to conduct their research sessions over calls and they used to bring people into their office or a research lab, or, you know, whatever it may have been.

I think just all of that stuff has been fascinating to me. Obviously, the other topics you mentioned are super important, but I don't know how well we're gonna be able to do them justice versus maybe some stuff that's you know, we've been a little more connected to in our day-to-day work.

Erin: [00:03:15] sure. Yeah, the remote stuff's been interesting for us. We're a remote company. We've been remote since the beginning. 70% of the research our customers have done through user interviews has been remote research. So from that perspective, it wasn't. A huge shift for us personally, but we definitely spent a lot of time trying to help our researchers translate some of their research to a remote setting.

For all of us who are used to working remote, but not necessarily at home with our families and such with us. There've been a ton of adjustments there. But yeah, I think it's been, it's been. Neat to see how, how other companies and UX researchers in particular have adapted to this challenge of remote work and to the silver lining point.

You know, we're huge believers in the benefits of remote research from access to a diverse pool of participants to the ability to do research more agilely and more quickly to get answers. So tons of benefits to remote research but certainly challenges as well.

JH: [00:04:26] Yeah. And I think that, you know, change in the office space, so to speak, is right. Has like brought more people's lives somehow into their work a little bit, right? Like you're taking a call from your living room and, you know, your spouse or a kid walks by, or your pets in frame. And I think with all of that and like everyone's under a lot of stress just because they don't have their normal outlets or, you know, their childcare is messed up or whatever.

It feels like people have started to find a way, even in more like older traditional organizations to find a way to be a little bit more comfortable with those things and respect people's mental health and what they might have going on in their lives and stuff. And so there's been some cool evolutions in that regard, too, that aren't just about the remote work, but you know, the insight you get into what somebody might have going on and how they might need support because of that.

Erin: [00:05:12] Yeah, I think, you know, it's been a year full of so much paradox and one of those is we've never been more apart, right. But at the same time, there has been something so humanizing about. That lack of boundaries. In terms of I can see your kid on the zoom or in terms of, you know, now my work is more part of my personal life and there's, you know, there's a lot of drawbacks to that, but there are some positive in terms of, I am not work Erin and mom Erin.

I'm just Erin and it's all mashed up together and not just work and personal life, but really all aspects of our life kind of being in this big remote 2020 soup has, I think taught all of us in our work lives and outside of them, a lot about empathy and humanity.

JH: [00:06:09] I spoke to Vivian Castillo earlier in the year. That's kinda stuck with me about mental health and wellbeing and taking time for yourself that, to your point about just being a little bit more humanizing, like there's been times right. With my team or direct reports, whatever this year where it's like, you just feel more comfortable saying like, Hey, I'm kind of having a tough stretch.

You know, like this is going on. I got this other thing. Can we like, you know, can we bump this? Or is it cool if I get back to you a little later? And like, I don't know. I think historically that something I would have tried to usually put like a happy face on right. And kind of act like it's a normal day and go through.

And there's, I think a little bit of that freedom and license is in to talk about that stuff is nice. If you're in an environment that supports it.

Erin: [00:06:44] Yeah. And I think vulnerability is one of those things where you can like, as leaders really model that behavior, or it's okay to, to be vulnerable and to be open about. How you're doing in COVID times or otherwise, and that it can almost, now you can move forward and get work done, which is not right to say that the expectation is that everyone's going to be 100% themselves or productive and these really challenging times, but that there is a lot of benefit in kind of putting that baseline emotional state and what you're carrying around out there, and then being able to, to move forward with that.

 JH: [00:07:29] So I think in that bucket, you know, I think it's been one step forward. One step back, you know, it's, there's, there's been, I think a lot of difficulty with not being able to get your team together in person or having to mess up your normal routines or norms. But I think people have found some really clever ways of working around that and have been forced to try some new things and maybe have been a little more human in the process.

So I think that whole category to me feels like one where like, I think when we get back to some normalcy, You know, hopefully in the coming months you know, I hope that we're able to take away some of the, some of the good aspects that were learned from that stuff and keep those around.

Erin: [00:08:04] Yeah. What are some of the good aspects? What do you think have been positive changes? You've seen.

JH: [00:08:10] Ah, that's a good one. I think realizing that a lot of stuff is more resilient than you might seem, right? Like to your point about like design sprints or whatever, if you've never done one remotely and you don't think it's going to work maybe it doesn't work as well, or maybe you have to do it a little bit differently, but like, I think teams have found ways to work.

Right. And people are creative and, you know, ingenuity comes out and stuff like that. So I think there's like, I think everyone learns that and is seeing it as a really powerful thing of like, Oh yeah, we got in a spot that was very different than we expected. We didn't. You know, we couldn't deploy our normal playbook.

We had to figure something out and we did. And like there were parts of it that we actually really liked. And we're going to try to like, keep some of those things around, you know what I mean? Like, I guess some of that resiliency and ingenuity has been a cool part. That's one of the first things that comes to mind.

How about you?

Erin: [00:08:53] Yeah, well now you're making me think about We were talking before a little bit about you know, designers and what is design and like are designers going to save the world and is that too much to ask? Right. But I'm just thinking about how, when you talk about rethinking, how can we work together to solve problems?

It's really a design question, right. Of designing a better way to work. And so in a way I think designers are. Uniquely equipped to design better ways to work for themselves when new constraints present themselves. So yeah, I think that's good. I think resiliency is always. Important in a, certainly an important skill this year and beyond we talked about, you know, the value of, of humanizing each other, I think has been good.

And I think yeah, to, to bring it back to some of the bigger topics that are happening in the world this year, having those hard things to talk about. Topics that don't necessarily seem germane to the work at hand enter the workplace, I think has been really positive because whether we want to talk about it or not, people are bringing that with them.

So as an example the racial injustice that has been happening literally since the beginning of, you know, our country and, and before. That has kind of come to a head this year in really important ways. I think that there have been a lot of people out there kind of raising their hand, saying this is happening.

This is happening. Pay attention to it. Whether we want to talk about it or not. I am dealing with this. And I think that something. That a lot of people really realize for the first time this year. And is critical, not just in being a better ally to the people that you work with, but also to designing more inclusive and like really inclusive, not just like, as a check box, but who are we designing this for?

And how might we Not be including different races, genders, physical abilities, whatever it might be by not taking a broad enough or truly empathetic enough approach to how we think about designing. So I think that's been really good. I think a lot of the good things about 2020 have been really hard and uncomfortable, but I think we're going to be.

A lot better off all of us for some of that uncomfortable reckoning.

JH: [00:11:33] Yeah, I think in that whole social responsibility sphere, just to put like a, you know, broad label on it. Right. It does seem like there has been more of a willingness to have some of those conversations, you know, whether we're having those conversations correctly or they're leading to the right changes or output.

I think it's still, you know, you can put a pretty critical lens on that maybe, but the fact that you just it's, it's becoming more common and it comes up in different contexts. People feel more comfortable bringing it up and, you know, chatting through some of those implications, whether it's, you know, when you're designing something and it's very, it's a very specific trade off that you're trying to assess and understand if that's okay.

Or if it's something, you know, a little bit bigger than that, it just feels like we're getting there where it's like kind of Oak okay. To talk about, you know what I mean? And it does really feel like that's the first step in, in some respects. And it's, it felt, it feels like a lot of that has been kind of willfully ignored.

Prior, right. Like, because to your point, obviously all these things were in the world and existing, but you know, you didn't see them come up as much from, you know, UX research thought leaders or in conversations you have with colleagues at work and stuff. Right. Like it's just out there more. And that, that feels like a positive change.

Even though there's a lot to still do, right. That's what feels like a meaningful step.

Erin: [00:12:46] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, we had Randy Duke on the show earlier this year to really engage with a lot of these topics. And we also made a huge effort to bring more black voices onto the podcast in general. And I think what was great about that is look, we're doing this imperfectly. But, but with good intentions and every episode that we've done has not sort of been about You know, the experience of being a black designer or about a racial injustice, but those topics have a way of coming up when you deliberately try to get voices that are thinking about those, those things.

And so I think, The solutions to these social and racial injustice issues are big and are going to take a long time to make meaningful progress toward it. But keeping them deliberately top of mind is I think really, really important and getting to those solutions.

JH: [00:13:54] Yeah. And I think as you know, user research gets a bigger seat at the table in different organizations and you know, is more of a part of planning, whether that be from generative research or whatever. Right. But. It's more infused in the company leadership and stuff like that. I think my hope is that you can get to a world where it's early enough or it's happening top of mind enough where it does impact, like what incentives are set for individual designers and product managers and stuff.

Just because when I think of like, when you, when you see people like nitpick a pattern or something in an application, right. Or in a, in a network and say like, look how damaging or bad this is. I always wonder is like, I feel like maybe the product manager or the designer or whatever who were working on that kind of like knew that maybe there are going to be some downsides or some extra analogies to the thing, but they were so strongly gold and incentivized, you know, around creating whatever outcome that they decided to do it.

And that incentive was set without this broader awareness. Right. And if like the research and, and some of those insights had been, had been available when people were deciding like, Hey, what's the goal for this team or which we have them focus on. Like maybe they could have been incentivized in a more holistic way or something like that.

Right. Like that's, there's a lot to unpack there, but does that kinda make sense? Like, I feel like I feel like sometimes I sympathize with the end, like designer or PM or whatever, who maybe is like making some very granular feature trade-offs just because when you're in a big org and you're expected to do a good job and you have this clear goal, like sometimes that can get kind of warped and it, and you don't always necessarily make the right decisions in that, in that case.

 Erin: [00:16:03] Yeah, absolutely. And I think of the sort of paradox and in the pendulum kind of swinging back and forth on various things continuously when you think about things like the social network, which was a big documentary that came out this year um, Thank you. Social networks have been a few years in the circuit hanging out also.

Great. Let's just talk about Mark Zuckerberg for awhile. But yeah, so the social dilemma, which came out and was pretty buzzy. Obviously there's been a blow back to that and a blow back to the blow back as all of these things go. But I think, you know, part of the idea there is you've got you know, what was it?

10 years ago, 15 years ago, where a growth hacking was all the rage. And I was like, we should be designing, not just to make things pretty, but to actually have business outcomes, but it got a pretty bad rap. Cause it was hackey, right. Is like, okay, Yeah, but like, is that good for the user? Is it actually good for the business or did we just, you know, make some new trade off of one metric for another metric or whatever.

Right. And I think. That end designer who, and that situation is just optimizing for trying to hit some kind of hacky metric. You know, there has been a blow back to that, and you've seen growth hacking turn into sort of more holistic growth teams that are bringing user research and user experience and like good intentions into the fold.

But it is hard for an individual designer to say I'm gonna solve social injustice, um, at the same time. And I think that a lot of the responsibility is top-down on making sure that there are good counter incentives to the bottom line that ensure that what's. You know, good for humanity.

And that's obviously a large thing to say, and isn't like a binary thing, but that there are hedges against just making a quick buck that designers are allowed to pursue.

JH: [00:18:13] Yeah, I just, yeah, I just don't know how you manage it. Right. Cause if you're tasked with, you know, on a streaming service or whatever, right. Increasing engagement and you're working on the interface and the recommendations and all that sort of stuff, and you come up with some ideas that you like, you know, and you experiment and you see them move.

Like there's a part when you're that zoomed in on the problem and you're the person working on it, but like, Your first thought is just like, all right, we did it like, you know what I mean? Like we got people to listen longer to watch longer. And I think unless somebody else is helping guardrail it with, to your point of counter metric or a broader perspective, whatever, you know it's just hard, hard, I think to ask the individual contributors to, to bear all that responsibility.

I think people are doing a good job. And I think the fact that it's becoming so prevalent and how people think about the work now within design and research that that's. It'll probably just happen to some degree anyways, but you know, if you're the designer working on like the YouTube stuff you might not, you just you're so close to the problem.

You might not realize that like, Oh, the way that we got people to watch longer was because we gave them increasingly incendiary recommendations, whatever. Right. You know what I mean? Like, that's, that's just a hard thing to unpack. And so I think whether it's counter metrics or, or getting some of that broader, like user input higher up in the leadership funnel or whatever it is, I'm excited to see how that evolves and plays out in the coming year.

Erin: [00:19:25] Yeah, we, so before, before recording this, we read the, what is it? The UX. Design collective UX collective. They do an annual kind of trends report. Everyone does annual trends, reports. Most of them are not very great, but I happen to love this one. I think they do a fantastic job with it. Every year. This year, they did a hundred lessons to think about for next year.

And I liked a ton of them. But one that stuck out to me. You know, related to what you're saying, J H is designing his business or job isn't to make people's lives better. Our job is to prove to our stakeholders with our work that caring for customers actually leads to better business. And I know this is something you talk about a lot, Jake, which is that if you can tie.

The quote unquote, right thing to do to a business outcome, then you can get it done. And I think the idea, like sure, we have B Corp's out there triple bottom line, you know, companies that have in their charters, some kind of social responsibility. That's not every company. And, and every for-profit company does need to make money.

And so how do we show that research that design can help us. Create better experiences, make better decisions that will translate to dollars and cents. You know, that's, that's what design can do. And you can do that while also creating products that you can feel good about. It makes me think of an episode where I recorded with Kate Moran from Nielsen Norman group, where she does a great job of.

Really connecting. How do you show the value of the design that you're doing and ways that I think maybe a lot of design leaders are, are used to thinking about given their seat at the leadership table, but are also, I think really useful for that end designer to have in mind where yes, I'm optimizing for whatever metric But also being able to kind of thread that difficult to thread needle at times of creating a positive user experience.

And at the same time, moving the business forward.

JH: [00:21:36] What's challenging there is right. It's one to get those things aligned. Not always possible, but I think you usually can find opportunities, but two is then you do need to get the right stakeholders engaged and motivated so that they can champion it. Right. Cause it's usually going to be like, you'll get a seed of users.

You know, don't like to buy stuff online because the return experience is so painful and they need to do that. That type of insight, like, right. Like in Zappos has been in the news a lot with the unfortunate passing of one of their founders. He's been like their whole businesses around, like we're going to make returns and customer service, like so delightful that that will become, you know, an advantage for us.

And that will differentiate us from other online vendors. And sort of like taking an insight like that into like pulling it into an actual business strategy that becomes a competitive advantage and something that you're known for. It takes a lot of marshaling of the right people and the right things to pull together into, like knowing how to, when you find insights like that and knowing how to partner with people in your organization to, to actually like move them forward is super important.

And I think that there's been more emphasis placed on that lately, which is encouraging.

Erin: [00:22:40] Yeah, absolutely. What else are you thinking about this year?

JH: [00:22:45] I mean, this one's been around a lot too. Right. But uh, accessibility, I think, has been deservedly getting a lot more time in the conversation and, and becoming a little bit more of like a fundamental piece of how designers and product folks and researchers view and think about their work. So that's, that's been a really encouraging trend.

Erin: [00:23:03] We had a cat noon on our show earlier this year to talk about accessibility. She's the founder of the app stark which is an accessibility tool.  But I do think this was a sort of tipping point year in how we think about accessibility, not just in it, it's important, but how you do it.

How does it become part of the designing workflow? And I think you could sort of liken it to several other hot topics research diversity and inclusion, where the point is that they can't be. Afterthoughts. I mean, they can be, but they shouldn't be afterthoughts. They need to be embedded throughout the entire process.

That's how you get a good result that doesn't just have, you know, the right colors or whatever thrown on at the end. But instead you're asking those questions of, if we wanted this experience to be inclusive, to be accessible. How would we do that every step? Right. Well, when we do our research, we're going to make sure to talk to people with, from different backgrounds, with different abilities.

So it starts at the beginning. And then it just continues throughout the entire process. I think that's been big. The theme around accessibility this year is not just that it's important. And not just like these like five tips on how to be more accessible, but really, again, that more holistic longitudinal making it part of every step of the process.

JH: [00:24:29] Yeah, it feels like it's just becoming more, like, it's a fundamental part of what these, you know, roles and responsibilities need to deliver. And it feels like it just to your point just is more woven into that fabric in a way that, you know, Probably should've been all along, but it seems like we're starting to tip there, whereas like I used to be something people would talk about or think about, or to your point, if, if we can get to it, we'll get to it.

And I, I think it's starting to become just like, this is just part of it. And hopefully we'll continue to see that momentum in the right direction. Do you have thoughts on things that are likely to be a big part of the conversation in the UX world in 2021?

Erin: [00:25:05] Yeah, I think, you know, I think a lot of these same topics will be around those you're saying with accessibility that has been. A topic for, you know, my three years here and long before that, but how will those conversations change and where will the emphasis change? I think, you know, people are starting to get the vaccine, I think, as we speak.

But it, it, it seems like it's going to be, you know, through next summer fall before there's you know, before things really start to, to return to quote unquote. Normal. And then, you know, we'll be in the public health sphere and just the day-to-day life sphere will we continue sort of wearing masks and exhibiting some distancing behaviors, traveling less for work?

I think so. I think, you know, I think next year looks different than this year for sure, but we're still very much. In the zone of, of what we've been experiencing. And so I think that's true for all sorts of things. We've been talking about how to do remote work effectively? How do we grapple with some of these social justice issues? How do we build a more inclusive and accessible future? So I think those conversations are not going anywhere, which I think is a really good thing. My hope is that because of that, because those conversations continue, that we'll make more progress and find solutions that are in line with those values.

So, I expect to see that pendulum, the, those solutions moving. In the right direction. How about you?

JH: [00:26:46] Yeah, I dunno. I've been thinking about it. I think this may not be super widespread, right. But like, I think in industries that have been really devastated, you know, like restaurants or retail or travel, all those types of things as stuff does start to shift back towards some normalcy. I do wonder if there's going to be kind of like a new set of approaches or experiences that need to be designed from a research perspective and a design perspective and everything else to help people kind of like ease back into those things.

Like how do you help people feel more comfortable, you know, being back in a store with other people or you know, going on a trip and stuff. I think like understanding what matters to people and what, what motivates them and what fears and anxiety they have about it is, is going to be an important part of how you help get some of those things back up and running in a safe way that lets people bring, like, I know everyone's like in some cases maybe it'll just snap back.

I'm not sure, but I feel like there's going to be a lot on the research and design front in some of those specific, specific areas that will be cool to see what comes of that. And what clever stuff people are able to come up with.

Erin: [00:27:55] I think that's a really good point because this year has been full on. Let's do remote everything.  So it's been kind of a land grab for who can design the most, most compelling remote experiences. But next year, as a transitional year kind of out of this, out of this, but with the reality, right? That like not to be the doomsdayer, but that maybe another pandemic will happen someday.

And how are we going to react to that one?  Think it will be a very transitional year and the idea that we're going to need tools and technology to adapt to. Not even a return to how it was before, but yeah, I think you're right. I think there's a comfort level concern with large groups being in restaurants.

What's the risk factor of various things of returning to socializing with people in real life. Right? Like we've been able to connect thankfully this all has happened now and not 20 years ago, right. Where we didn't have zoom technology, which imperfect is it? Maybe it's certainly something yeah, like, do we need the help of technology to be able to hang out in real life again?

Or will we eschew our cell phones and just all get rid of them because we'll have missed being able to be together in real life. And there was this kind of budding put your phone away at dinner. Right. And look at me and I'm here and let's just be present and engage with each other while we're here in real life.

Obviously I don't think anyone's actually getting rid of their phones, but I am. What does technology look like when we're lucky enough to actually. Be together again. Well, we want, well, we want to kind of actually put them aside for a little bit because every social interaction we've had the last year has been mediated by technology or will we not know how to handle it, but we'll be like, I don't know how to just like talk to a person and, and not have a screen

JH: [00:29:56] Yeah. You know, you know, what's one it's in this space that I'm not sure if this is, this is how companies will approach it, but I hope some do. So maybe somebody will listen to this and be inspired. But um, you know, like we were talking earlier about doing something that makes good business sense and is good for individuals.

Right? One thing I've heard a lot of, or you see a lot of is companies that are downsizing, their offices are giving up office space because they're going to plan some hybrid. You know, remote situations going forward, right. Where people will spend two or three days in the office and they'll rotate.

And so you get to see your closest collaborators in person a couple of times, but you don't have to commute to the office every day. And it feels like something like that. There's a lot of promise to it. But I'd imagine you could do that in a way where you just put in like your facilities team. Or whatever, and just like, Hey, we're doing it this way.

And just like, divvy it up. And like, those are the rules versus doing it in a much more thoughtful and intentional way where you actually interview employees and, and understand how they would like a situation like that to work. And what's important to them. Cause you can imagine that like, you know, part of that probably means you don't have a dedicated desk.

And so every time you come in and you have to find a new space and so you can't leave stuff at the office and like maybe there's a lot of concerns around that. Or, you know, I don't even know I haven't done this research obviously, but It feels like something that should be a win-win like employees get some time back and have a little more flexibility, but they still get to see people, you know, companies get to spend a little bit less on office space, which is obviously very expensive.

But I feel like some places are going to do it and really ham-fisted way. And if they just talk to their employees, they could make it like much, much better.

Erin: [00:31:23] Yeah, that's interesting. I don't know. I think, you know, I, you hear a lot of people, I've seen surveys, informal surveys. About this, you know, when, when we're able to, assuming you could go back to work in real life, do you want to go five days a week? You know, four days fully remote? It seems like the plurality want to go back some of the dates, but not all of the days, but I, you know, I work for a fully remote company, so self-selecting audiences here, but I do think there's a ton of value to.

Kind of going all or nothing on that, where having been the person who's, you know, the one remote person for the day or worked in companies where you have like the one marketing person on the opposite coast. So you have to spend 20 minutes, like figuring out how the job role or whatever is going to work in the conference room to get them dialed in.

And then they feel like they're second class citizens in the meeting. I don't miss that at all. I think for me, there's a. A lot for, to the really optimizing for one thing or the other. But that being said, I think flexibility is really important too. So I don't know how you square that circle or whatever they say.

JH: [00:32:35] Yeah. Yeah. I don't know what that looks like and what's right for different companies and their culture and their employee needs and stuff. But I just feel like it's something that people are going to get pretty wrong. And if they took some time to put in some research and be thoughtful about it, they could actually do it really well.

You know what I mean? And so I'm curious to see what comes up, what comes on that front.

Erin: [00:32:54] Yeah, well, people are doing a lot of research this year. That's for sure. You know, we S we saw that in our work you know, in March had, I think everyone kinda. Panicked. I dunno, March was an interesting period. And as, as I mentioned, we have you know, what 30% of our research happens in person.

So that was gone overnight, but it bounced back. And I think folks are in the UX research capacity in a market reach search capacity. And in other kinds of research, people are doing in their lives. It's certainly a time to. Take a step back and not just like a, one-off take a step back, but to constantly reevaluate what's in front of us.

And none of us knows I'm not even you and me to gauge what's going to happen next year. And I think research and all, all forms is the way to build some confidence in finding the best opportunities. Whether that's designing a good work experience for, for your team and colleagues or a great product for your customers.

JH: [00:33:56] Yeah. Yeah. There's something about this year that has been like I feel just for me, one of the clearest examples I've ever had of how flawed or biased, you know, our thinking can be when you think about the predictably irrational stuff, right. Behavioral economics, all that kind of stuff of.

Just like in March to your point of like, when stuff started shutting down and we really started taking stuff seriously and hearing about this, like how scary and how paralyzing that period felt like just for me personally. But like when you actually looked at the data at that stage, it was bad, but not like that bad.

Whereas now like quantitatively it's worse than ever. And you just see these horrible records getting set every day. And it doesn't feel as scary anymore. You know what I mean? Like you just get, it's weird how people can normalize the stuff and like what data or what signal we pick up on when. And like, I just think, you know, I think just within research sometimes, right?

You think of like, if you get the right data or you get the right insights, you go share them, everyone's going to kind of react to it the same way. And just, I don't know. There's just something about this that just has reinforced for me that we're not always the most rational beings and the way we process stuff is really nuanced and independent of so many factors.

Erin: [00:35:05] Yeah, that is for sure.

JH: [00:35:09] Yeah. So but yeah, I mean, what 21 days to the new year, or whenever this comes out, like, and then everything's fixed. 

Erin: [00:35:19] Well, hopefully that's one of the things we've picked up this year is a little humility. Happy end of 2020.

Carrie Boyd

Content Creator

Carrie Boyd is a Content Creator at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.

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