User Research

Examples from my mixed methods toolbox

I am a mixed methods researcher who favors working on qualitative research over quant. I simply love to uncover the emotions (whether obvious to the participant or not) that drive behaviors.

My favored approaches are:

  • surveys

  • card sorts

  • A/B testing

  • usability tests

  • journey mapping

  • contextual inquiries

  • ethnographies

This was a graphical and traditional card sort exercise done with my external vendor and partner, Upstream Thinking, to yield directional information architecture of a diabetes management app.


Contextual Inquiry

Here on a Walmart contextual inquiry assignment to identify pain points mechanics may face when providing oil changes. I first assessed what my client wanted to learn and their success criteria. Then I authored the interview guide and recruited several Walmart Auto Centers for day-long sessions. Lastly, I presented findings to senior leadership.


Competitive Landscape

I usually begin each project by conducting thorough desktop research to assess the competition. This initial step allows me to gain a clear understanding of the market landscape and helps me establish a direction for the project. Additionally, having comprehensive knowledge about the competitors enables me to engage in meaningful conversations with users, as I can speak confidently and knowledgeably about the industry. This approach ensures that my design decisions are well-informed and aligned with user needs.


Collages are beautiful things

I have a penchant for research results that are "hallway worthy". What results can I hang up in the office to help drive empathy? Collages and Posters! When these collages were filled out using cutouts from magazines, hand drawings, or simply handwriting completed by minors, we gained a better understanding of issues faced while in school or when facing peer pressure.


Persona Research


Online Surveys

Here I wanted to learn Wearing and Color preferences for a Continuous Glucose Monitoring wearable sensor. In the screens prior, I ask the reader to consider different scenarios - in a meeting/classroom, physical activity, afternoon in a swimsuit, and physical intimacy. Per scenario (1 per screen), I ask about wearable color, ultimately asking for a single preferred color for all scenarios. The same line of questioning was repeated for sensor location. Between each scenario I asked for their rationale. Preference patterns emerged along demographic lines.


Multivariable Trade-offs

One may think that on-body sensor wearers want the wearable to be as small as possible for the lowest cost. However, one learning from this research that explored multiple wearable factors - shape, length, width, depth, and cost - was that there's a point when the wearable is too small to handle. Here, in one of my most complex bodies of research, I learned the sweet spot in terms of shape, size, and cost by isolating variables at first then repeating the exercise by adding in the cost factor, which typically altered the original preferences.


Journey Maps

Every project begins the same way: journey mapping acquired as primary or secondary research. That's where the similarities stop. Over my three decades in UX, I've never created two identical journey map formats.

In my experience, there are three types:

  • A comparison versus the competition and/or apathy (the do-nothing option)

  • Phase distinction

  • Qualitative experience mapping with additional touch-point commentary


Usability Testing

Printer participants were presented a new printer in an unopened box. They were asked to imagine that they just purchased the printer and to setup the printer as they would at home. I noticed participants experienced issues when loading the ink cartridges. By first identifying a clear improvement opportunity and then volunteering to take on the program manager role of a 20-person global cross-functional team, we increased printhead install success rates from 41% to 82% (exceeding the 80% goal), saving $15MM in support calls, service events & returns.

Other Reasons to Hire Me