Leah is a Design Researcher. Her unique way of customizing different research methods in a very flexible way impressed us.

We had the opportunity to talk to her about this and other topics. Here’s the second part of our conversation.

How Can Biases Be Avoided when Interpreting Data?

Researchers are an instruments. You do have a bias. You do bring it. Each person has that. But if you are like, “I am an analytic instrument.” Then it is your responsibility to the best of your ability to notice what your biases are, what your assumptions are, and your own beliefs.

So you should pick an analytics framework. You should be really clear with yourself because it’s true that because we are humans, you have to make yourself as aware as you can be of how you selectively view and interpret data.

Some of the ways you can get around biases is have more than one person collect the data. So you collect the data together. You talk about it together. You do analysis together.

What Are the Deliverables at the End of a Research?

Depends on your goals of course. And what is needed.

The less reading people do, the better. So I like to use visual models to communicate ideas. Instead of writing a bunch of words to describe something, you want a visual model that shows the relationships between things.

Your words can be about helping that diagram function. So, I think writing in reports is extremely important but you want to minimize it as much as possible.

I base my deliverables around who I’m delivering it to. If I’m delivering it to designers, what does a designer need in order to do their job? That’s what I have to deliver.

How Do You Reach a Balance Between Different Audiences in a Report?

I just did some research for media buyers. And I don’t know very much about them. I don’t know how they do their job. So I didn’t know what data types or content types they would need to see in the results.

So when our stakeholders asked for the work, we had to interview them to understand the goals of what they need. Because even if stakeholders weren’t going to use the outcomes, the media buyers would use the outcomes.

So that is, I think, the difference. You need to know who will use your work. And then be obsessed with making it usable for them.

What Is Coming Next for UX Research?

I think multimodal research will be more and more important. So putting someone in a room for a one time conversation will become less impactful than having a little bit of a longer relationship with a participant. And by longer term, I mean a week, two weeks, three weeks, where they are submitting information to you from their smartphone using these kind of cool diary apps. It can be less formal. It can just be a texting relationship. Or as a form of a diary, as an example.

And also video conversations. That way you can see a little bit of my office, I can see a little bit of yours. I could take you on a tour of my office right now and narrate my experience.

We will start to have broader definitions of what spending time with a participant means.

How Can Less Experienced Designers Transition to Research?

I’m a huge believer in empirical learning, applied learning. So if you read a book about a research method or a blog post or an article or go to a conference, and you see how to do something, you should attempt to immediately do that same research technique in your own personal life, not as part of your job.

You can do research with your work mates and your friends and your family and figure out how to write a really powerful research plan. How do you conduct and do a technique or a method?

And then after you feel like you have a little bit of space to talk about it, you can bring that into your work and say, “I want to start experimenting with this. Let’s find a place where we could do this on a small scale.”

It just gets you through all those things that are clunky and are hard to know until you do them yourself.

Leah Rader is Principal Researcher at Spring Studio, a seasoned design studio in San Francisco, California. She conducts participatory research to explore problems or given situations related to lifestyle, consumption habits, or attitudes toward the products and services of the Firm’s clients. Using a qualitative approach, she gains a deep understanding of the motifs and unspoken feelings of users. Then, at a later stage, she informs the design process with her findings.

Our thanks to Leah for taking the time to share her views on Design Research.

Audio with Interactive Transcript

You can listen the my conversation with Leah, recorded live.

Check out Part I in case you you missed it.

For more, you can contact Misael Leon at [email protected].