Conference Program

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Many organizations struggle with justifying and prioritizing accessibility. One of the primary reasons is because they’re thinking about accessibility all wrong. Instead of a checklist, a list of legal requirements, or a set of shackles holding designers and developers back, it’s time to start thinking of accessibility as what it is: an opportunity to innovate! In this presentation, Fable will draw from our expertise helping organizations like yours start the accessibility journey, to change the way you think about disability, assistive technology, and accessibility. We will demonstrate that accessible products are more flexible, customizable, and useful for all users. We’ll also show you how accessibility is directly tied to the creation of many of the most exciting and innovative technologies of the last 50 years, and how it’s changed the entire world for everyone. This presentation will inspire you with the information and ideas you need to accelerate your accessibility journey.

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Demand for UX has increased at the same unprecedented rate as digital adoption, however, investment in UX is lagging, leaving teams without the resources, processes and exec-level buy-in to deliver the digital experiences their customers want.

In this session, UserZoom reveals findings from its annual State of UX report, identifying what’s getting in the way of UX teams becoming a critical part of decision-making, how to overcome these challenges and make a demonstrably positive impact on business performance.

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We’ve all heard about the trends around democratizing research, but less about how to do it in a sustainable way that fits our unique business models and environments. This session will cover critical considerations and strategies based on experience and case studies around how and when it is is appropriate to consider enabling and empowering non-researchers to gather insights and best practices on how to create process, training, and tools that drive success.

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Theme 1: Advancing Our Field

As research and insight functions gain influence, we challenge ourselves to ask: to what end? Where do we want to go as a discipline? How do we use human insights to imagine new futures? How do we improve the rigor of our field without resorting to gatekeeping? This theme’s speakers explore growth, evolution, and trajectory of research as a field, and how these impact our work as practitioners, teams, and organizations.

As research and insight functions gain influence, we challenge ourselves to ask: to what end? Where do we want to go as a discipline? How do we use human insights to imagine new futures? How do we improve the rigor of our field without resorting to gatekeeping? This theme’s speakers explore growth, evolution, and trajectory of research as a field, and how these impact our work as practitioners, teams, and organizations.

Whenever we make changes, we affect the lives of people in the future — and that responsibility can feel enormous. In this talk, Devon Powers will share some of her research into people who forecast the future for a living, revealing their strategies as well as their pitfalls. She will also discuss how you can engage in research with a sense of responsibility for tomorrow.

Did you know that the terms “bureaucracy” and “information worker” were both invented by sociologists, long before either thing existed? Did you know that the 2008 crash was accurately predicted by an anthropologist? Many people don’t realize that social research drives robust foresight. This is the kind of value even a very junior UX researcher can contribute. In this talk, Sam Ladner will describe how researchers can sift and track weak signals, how to create trend reports, and how to predict areas of change.

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During this interview, we’ll hear how Senior UX Researcher, Nicole Wright has helped HoneyBook–a client management software company–democratize research, build a better product that led to a recent $1B valuation. Nicole will share her best practices, lessons learned and her vision for the future.

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Research teams are at the frontier of uncovering valuable insights that can inform products, services, and strategy choices. Few researchers in large organizations have the visibility and buy-in to exert influence across all of product, engineering, customer success, marketing, and overall organizational direction. How do you break down silos and maximize the impact of your research?

Join us in conversation with Joanna Vodopivec, Principal Design Researcher at Intuit, to learn how she makes her team’s research relevant to colleagues in product, marketing, and services, and the latest initiatives she has led to enable the research team to be truly seen in a large organization. You will also hear the creative approaches Joanna and her team take to engage and influence, even when working remotely.

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The synergy of smartphone eye-tracking and user experience research allows a combination of behavioral insights and in-depth answers. eye square’s standardized experimental approach provides the ideal setting for large-scale eye-tracking research. This helps to understand how your end-users interact with your product, their mental model, and how information architecture and UI design can be improved.

The most successful UX researchers Mackenzie has had the gift of working with traverse some of the most non-linear, seemingly meandering career paths and life journeys imaginable. Yet job requirements and research career ladders, if they exist at all, seem to expect and even demand a linear trajectory, all too often focused on tenure as a main criteria for growth. This session will suggest new criteria for evaluating the maturity of one’s research practice as well as propose a focus on one’s researcher identity. Mackenzie wants to explore how we might better recognize transferable skills and capabilities and explore more inclusive frameworks that can house the wide variety of lived experiences that so clearly leads to success in the UX research space.

We often hire researchers from a wide range of backgrounds. Most of the time, we need to hire fresh grads, interns, or market research experts. For these individuals with little practical experience in product/UX research and a non-research education background, we must bridge a skill gap. Yoel will talk about his experiments with a variety of ways for boosting the skills of his researchers. He’ll talk about the framework he’s built, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each learning project he’s tried.

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While many researchers see the value of a central research repository, how to introduce one in an organization is still a big question. Today we have the chance to learn from two researchers who have done it.

Taylor Jennings, Senior UX Researcher at Chili Piper, and Joe Nelson, User Experience Researcher at MasterControl, will share their process and experience gained from implementing their research repository. We’ll cover how they realized the need for a repository, how they convinced stakeholders, evaluated solutions, and what they’d do differently in hindsight.

Join us live as we leave plenty of opportunities for the audience to ask questions.

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Designers are not just interested in research; they’re the driving force in today’s research landscape. In this workshop, Hannah Hudson, Director of Design and Research at Twilio, and Prayag Narula, CEO & Co-Founder of Marvin, will discuss how good design is a competitive advantage and can impact the customer experience when research is done often and well by everyone on the team. Learn how design teams can use the tools and methodologies of trained researchers so the whole company can get the maximum impact from the investment in design.

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Research is for everyone. User research is about connecting with customers, and learning from them to make better decisions for them, and for your business. Everyone in an organization can and should benefit from that. But that doesn’t mean everyone is a researcher. In this session we’ll cover:

  • How to identify the right stakeholders for your research
  • How to get different kinds of collaborators involved in your research
  • How to make sure your research is being used and making an impact
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Every researcher wants to get the most out of a testing session but that’s easier said than done. It requires expert navigation of the nuances of different personalities, distinct power dynamics, and the varied abilities of each participant.

Dovetail’s Head of Design and Research, Lucy Denton sits down with Mila Kuznetsova, Senior Director of User Research and Product at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to get a better insight into her experiments with methodologies and techniques as she’s navigated testing with a distinct participant group—children. In this session, we’ll hear from Mila about staying nimble, adjusting her approach to cater to the individual, and how we could bring the same level of understanding and grace to testing with adults. This session isn’t to be missed!

As User Researchers, particularly working on sensitive public services, we need to be able to adapt, respond and grow. User Research is a demanding role, it can be mentally and emotionally draining. Adding to this are new challenges being thrown at us, be it COVID-19 or on-going digital advancement. This session therefore, looks at the constant – ourselves and our teams.

This isn’t about predicting the future, it is about preparing for it. As a researcher and a research team we are our own best asset. This isn’t about patting ourselves on the back, but recognising that regardless of the context or tools involved in the future we are people-first not technology-first. It is also about addressing the impact the role can have on our own well-being and how to manage the difficult days.

This session outlines some of techniques and approaches we have used as a team to better support each other in challenges, and how this has help made us more resilient, responsive and overall, better user researchers.

Have you ever been a part of a participatory research process or the use of a participatory method only to find that it fell short of any real shift of power dynamics? Have you ever compared notes with another participatory design researcher only to find out their definition of participatory research and design is different than your own? Have you faced opposition from your organization in practicing research in a more participatory way? What does research even mean, what is its purpose, and how does research change from community to community, context to context? Based on that, what are the future possibilities of research?

Come, join the conversation, and see what Victor Udoewa has to say about such experiences, the different definitions of participatory research and how participatory research can actually be used to reinforce hierarchies. One way he has found to dismantle that system is to practice radical participatory research. He will share what that means, how it looks, and how you can begin moving in that direction along with a direct challenge to our community of researchers in regards to our own power.

Wrap-up

Drag Bingo with Indigo Dai

Could You Go for a Game of Chance? Are You Thirsting for Thrills? In Search of Surprises, or Pining for PRIZES?

Have we got a social event for you… That’s right – It’s Virtual Drag Bingo with Indigo Dai! Join us on Wednesday afternoon for an action-packed version of the world’s favorite game of chance. The emphasis is on fun and friendly competition, along with loads of laughs. (But let’s get real – it’s all about the prizes! And there will be some surprising prizes!) Indigo brings the glam and the energy, as we go through 4 – 5 rounds of bingo and compete for rare and unique “discount-store delights”. Hey, someone’s gonna win that glow-in-the-dark sword or inflatable microphone – why not you?

Indigo will share a link at the start of the experience so you can download your virtual BINGO board then. Or, click on the link and enter your email to receive your board in advance.

Could You Go for a Game of Chance? Are You Thirsting for Thrills? In Search of Surprises, or Pining for PRIZES?

Have we got a social event for you… That’s right – It’s Virtual Drag Bingo with Indigo Dai! Join us on Wednesday afternoon for an action-packed version of the world’s favorite game of chance. The emphasis is on fun and friendly competition, along with loads of laughs. (But let’s get real – it’s all about the prizes! And there will be some surprising prizes!) Indigo brings the glam and the energy, as we go through 4 – 5 rounds of bingo and compete for rare and unique “discount-store delights”. Hey, someone’s gonna win that glow-in-the-dark sword or inflatable microphone – why not you?

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Learn how Brad Orego, Head of Research at Auth0 is bringing research to teams of designers, marketers and product owners. His passion for customer research is infectious and in this 30-minute session, you’ll learn his tips and tricks for getting more teams to do great research.

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In this talk, Sofia Quintero – founder at EnjoyHQ [recently acquired by UserZoom] – shares her experience helping teams implement effective research repositories across companies of all sizes. You will learn a variety of change management protocols and best practices in knowledge management to make sure you build a strong foundation regardless of the tool you end up buying.

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Our team has studied research democratization efforts of many shapes and sizes. This session focuses on what we’ve learned by approaching democratization from the perspective of the designers, product managers, marketers, and other non-researchers involved.

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Theme 2: Advancing Ourselves

Advancing research is as much about pushing the boundaries of what our discipline is and whom we collaborate with as it is about methods and practices. This theme explores what the research practice of the future could look like. How does research connect with data science, market research, and other practices centered on learning about people? What lessons can we learn from adjacent fields? And how do we grow as researchers and evolve our work through difficult new terrain, like trauma informed understanding, non-researchers conducting research, and the need to embrace fully global views?

Advancing research is as much about pushing the boundaries of what our discipline is and whom we collaborate with as it is about methods and practices. This theme explores what the research practice of the future could look like. How does research connect with data science, market research, and other practices centered on learning about people? What lessons can we learn from adjacent fields? And how do we grow as researchers and evolve our work through difficult new terrain, like trauma informed understanding, non-researchers conducting research, and the need to embrace fully global views?

Catherine’s talk will cover what an advanced, mixed method team looks like when it covers a broad range of research disciplines (e.g. data, customer experience, market research, digital research etc.), as well as how to make this work for the business and keep pace with ever-changing consumer behaviors.

Today data science, market research, and UX research are predominantly locked up in individual silos. This is a problem because companies are missing out on the full picture, research is repeated, and good insights are going to waste.

In this session, Andrew shares how to build a product insights team that enables you to build bridges and tell more holistic narratives about your customers.

The talk will cover how to set up the team, the different structures we see, and how you can get started today by getting the teams to work more efficiently together in the interim.

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You may be familiar with desktop screen readers like JAWS, and desktop voice control like Dragon Naturally speaking. You might know about WCAG, and popular automated testing tools for your websites. But what about mobile apps? How do accessibility techniques apply on the touch screen? As the entire world moves mobile first, your accessibility strategy needs to adapt. In this talk, we’ll introduce you to some of the changes that managing mobile-first accessibility correctly requires. We’ll cover some of the most popular assistive technologies on mobile, give you tips for automated and manual testing of your mobile apps, warn you of some of the pitfalls to watch for, and help you bring your mobile accessibility strategy to the next level.

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Research is about meeting users where they are. But what if we’re building products for customers who don’t spend their lives on Zoom and Google calendar? How do you reach users who are hard to reach in the post-pandemic world? Join Prayag Narula, CEO & CO-Founder of Marvin, and Abhinav Krishna, Design Manager at Razorpay, the $7.5 Billion fintech behemoth, as they discuss how Razorpay is operationalizing user research at scale in the Indian SMB sector and applying it to their product design process.

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In our session we will deal with efficient and fast possibilities of UX measurement. Does the web presence or app look attractive and inspiring to new and established users? What are the strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition? We will present insights from our UX Online Benchmarking, which show that the implicit first impression is decisive. Get first insights about the eCommerce, insurance, and travel industries!

The last two years of crises demonstrate why researchers and designers must anticipate and plan for trauma as it emerges in our work (and our lives). But how do you move your practice and your organization in a trauma-informed direction? This panel will draw upon our experiences researching sensitive topics and working with marginalized communities to discuss implementing trauma-informed practices in research and design engagements. We will explore the different ways we’ve used trauma-informed concepts to work with, and protect the mental and emotional safety of, the communities we serve. Panelists will also discuss self and team care and ways we’ve advocated for trauma-informed approaches in organizations like Code for America and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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What does it take to become a great research leader? What are the different types of leaders in research? How do you grow a team from a solo researcher to a successful research team?

Growing research teams show a company’s commitment to user-centered and insight-driven decision-making. With growing teams, research leadership becomes a central topic. With user research often having the most comprehensive picture of the user, we will explore what this means for the collaboration with or leadership of other disciplines in the organization.

Today we have the chance to learn from three research leaders who share their personal perspectives on research leadership and various facets of it. Get to know our panelists:

  • Anna Avrekh, UX Research Manager at Meta
  • Dr. John Pagonis, Principal UX Researcher at Zanshin Labs
  • Klara Pelcl, Senior Design Research Manager at ebay

Join us live as we have plenty of room for your questions during the panel.

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Finding meaning in unstructured or semi-structured data from the field is a challenge at the best of times. Add in collaboration, and it quickly gets messy. The most common approaches to synthesizing research for which you have video footage have been either exclusively transcript-and-tag-based or visual/spatial. This choice gives researchers a dilemma — do you want to stay grounded in the data with transcripts, or see the whole picture with visual tools?

With Reduct’s Videoboard, we’ve brought these two worlds together, avoiding the need for compromise or painful workarounds. You can now stay close to your data, think visually, synthesize spatially, and work collaboratively, with your video footage right where you’ve always wanted it.

Join this session to be among the first to see this groundbreaking tool – and hear how it can be a gamechanger for research teams working in complex environments.

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Everyone is talking about democratization of research–distribution of research across teams. That’s not new. The conversation has shifted from whether to democratize, to how, and how much. In this panel we’ll talk about different approaches to holding on, and letting go, to UXR in an org. We’ll cover:

  • Pros and cons of different approaches
  • Lessons learned the hard way
  • How to think about a model that works for your org

And more!

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There are loads of bridges built between organizations and their customers, pathways that help them connect. For some reason, the bridge that’s always open but oft-forgotten is the bridge that support has built. Dovetail’s User Experience Researcher, Anna Nguyen, and Inbound Customer Specialist, Emily Brogan are here to tell you how support and research can join forces to holistically represent the voice of the customer.

Join us to learn about:

  • The powerful relationship between support and user research
  • Dovetail’s definition of the voice of the customer
  • The process of gathering high volume feedback to generate succinct insights
  • The impact of the voice of the customer at Dovetail
  • How different teams can use the voice of the customer

UX research takes plenty of inspiration from anthropology and design principles, but what about our friends in Instructional Design (ID)? Contrary to popular belief, ID is way more than creating school curriculums and offers a whole new perspective on what it means to drive truly meaningful insights. ID’s time- and lab-tested principles all drive towards creating measurable change in students (or users), and its lessons are easy to adapt into the user research world. In this session, you’ll learn about basic ID process and learning theory, how to apply that to research projects, and finally how ID can help you rethink the classic UX heuristics evaluation. By diversifying the disciplines we pull from, we’ll become stronger and more flexible researchers who can tackle any kind of problem

The pros and cons of democratizing user research are heavily debated. Often this is seen as a black and white scenario where we are solely in favour or against it. But what about all the shades of grey we can explore? Depending on the situation there are both benefits and dangers that lie in democratizing our research practice.

Kathleen will share her experience with research democratization. Based on this she will show a framework that will help you assess when it is an appropriate tool to further research maturity and when it might derail you.

Wrap-up

Sponsor Session

Cyber Magic Show: A Virtual, Fully Interactive Experience

We invite you and your friends and family to join us for a special event featuring the Cyber Magic of Jonathan Levit. In this one of a kind interactive performance, Jonathan melds mentalism, psychological techniques and remarkable sleight of hand that promises to magically transform your appreciation for family, friends and co-workers in wondrous ways.

On Thursday, March 10 at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET, we invite you and your friends and family to join us for a special event featuring the Cyber Magic of Jonathan Levit. In this one of a kind interactive performance, Jonathan melds mentalism, psychological techniques and remarkable sleight of hand that promises to magically transform your appreciation for family, friends and co-workers in wondrous ways.

About Jonathan Levit
During his storied career, Jonathan has used his expertise to conjure up amazing results for his clients. As a magician, actor, tv host, magic consultant and producer, he has worked on every continent including Antarctica.

Appearing regularly at the world renowned Magic Castle in Los Angeles, Jonathan has also been seen both in front of, and behind the cameras. Some of the biggest hollywood productions have relied on Jonathan’s magic, including the films “Now You See Me” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”, as well as TV’s “The X-Files”, “Hip Hop Houdini”, and ‘Like Magic’.

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UX professionals have seen the demand for research rise in the last year, but demonstrating the business value of UX remains a challenge because organizations aren’t using the right success metrics.

In this session, we’ll reveal how the mindset around measuring UX has evolved, how innovative UX teams solve the challenge, and what you can do to evolve your own measurement strategy.

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Theme 3: Advancing Our Practice

Research is now omnipresent. Every modern organization has a research practice, and with increased democratization of research comes a huge level of responsibility. That means we need to evolve to include new practices, while sticking to the core pillars that define good research. But, which practices are sacred and which need to be changed? How do we stay innovation-driven, yet focused on socially-relevant experiences? And how do we ensure the kinds of insights we’re generating are at once inclusive and representative? The solution is right in front of us: by celebrating the rigorous, human-centered focus that informs research practice, we can ensure responsible research and tell a more holistic story.

Research is now omnipresent. Every modern organization has a research practice, and with increased democratization of research comes a huge level of responsibility. That means we need to evolve to include new practices, while sticking to the core pillars that define good research. But, which practices are sacred and which need to be changed? How do we stay innovation-driven, yet focused on socially-relevant experiences? And how do we ensure the kinds of insights we’re generating are at once inclusive and representative? The solution is right in front of us: by celebrating the rigorous, human-centered focus that informs research practice, we can ensure responsible research and tell a more holistic story.

The pandemic may have accelerated older people’s use of digital tools for socializations and spending, but there are limits to what some older people are comfortable doing online. When last spring’s mad dash to schedule COVID vaccine appointments stretched some seniors’ tech abilities, ‘Vaccine angel’ groups stepped in to fill the gap. The digital divide and low tech literacy among older adults needs to be addressed as an opportunity, rather than a lost cause.

This session will offer a set of practical tips for conducting UX research with older, less tech savvy adults.

Feature improvements to software that has been around for while often results in frustration for the users because of resistance to change. Even if the new experiences are proven to be better, old habits and biases interrupt adoption speed. In this talk, Paula will explore strategies for proving out where legacy software needs improvement and where research can guide and debunk myths about legacy software and legacy users.

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Video can be so much more than just a presentation aid and a way to engage stakeholders; it can also be a means to explore, understand, and convey deep human truths. Through the lens of documentary filmmakers and visual ethnographers, film can be a powerful medium with which to capture context and emotion, and tell nuanced stories. In this fireside chat with three design researchers who have extensive experience working with video and documentary techniques, you will hear how they integrate documentary filmmaking approaches and methods into their research practices.

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The synergy of smartphone eye-tracking and user experience research allows a combination of behavioral insights and in-depth answers. eye square’s standardized experimental approach provides the ideal setting for large-scale eye-tracking research. This helps to understand how your end-users interact with your product, their mental model, and how information architecture and UI design can be improved.

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You should not be doing research for the sake of doing research. Research takes time and needs to be well throughout. More importantly, you need to determine if your findings are actually meaningful to the organization. In this session we will look at the idea of statistical significance and meaningfulness when reporting research findings.

Ovetta will talk with us about reinvigorating the practice by incorporating Design Anthropology into our research tool-kits and further broadening our set of methodologies to include new research methods for AI/ML design.

Learn about the concept testing methodology and various approaches available, when to use them, the types of decisions they can support, and the process to conduct good concept testing with mixed methodologies in mind.

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The metaverse, virtual reality, Web 3.0, distributed infrastructure, the Internet of Things, wearable computing, and AI: all these things are going to change the face of accessibility over the next 10 years. In this talk, Samuel Proulx, Fable’s Accessibility Evangelist, will give you an overview of what the current landscape looks like at the frontier of accessibility and assistive technology. Where’s the research taking us? What might be coming down the pike? Sam has watched the accessibility industry adapt and change over the last 30 years. Drawing on the changes he’s experienced, he’ll take a look at the future, through the lens of the past. After this session, you’ll have a deeper understanding of where accessibility has been, and where it might be going.

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Designers are not just interested in research; they’re the driving force in today’s research landscape. In this workshop, Hannah Hudson, Director of Design and Research at Twilio, and Prayag Narula, CEO & Co-Founder of Marvin, will discuss how good design is a competitive advantage and can impact the customer experience when research is done often and well by everyone on the team. Learn how design teams can use the tools and methodologies of trained researchers so the whole company can get the maximum impact from the investment in design.

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Lots of effort in research is lost after it’s published. The problem is not the value of the insights but that the findings are fragmented across wikis, research repositories, and random folders in the cloud.

Hear our expert panel share how they have designed research repositories that have succeeded at scale. Our all-star panelists will spend 30 minutes sharing their insights, followed by a Q&A session in Slack!

You’ll hear from:

  • Matt Duigan, Product Manager at Microsoft
  • Andrew Michael, Founder at Avrio Research Repository
  • Dr. Emily DiLeo, Archivist and Repository Designer
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Research is for everyone. User research is about connecting with customers, and learning from them to make better decisions for them, and for your business. Everyone in an organization can and should benefit from that. But that doesn’t mean everyone is a researcher. In this session we’ll cover:

  • How to identify the right stakeholders for your research
  • How to get different kinds of collaborators involved in your research
  • How to make sure your research is being used and making an impact

It is more important than ever to understand your audience to succeed but it takes rigor to gain valuable insights. Learn how framing usability test scenarios with distractions and interruptions lead to a deeper line of questioning and exponentially increases the accuracy of your user research. Join Marc Majers & Tony Turner, the user experience team from the book Make Your Customers Dance, to discuss techniques that will make a big impact on your product’s competitiveness.

Wrap-up

Advancing Research 2022 Master Sketchnotes PDF