This spotlight was part of USERWEEKLY - a weekly email to understand what is happening in user research. It's the best way to keep up on trends, methodologies, insights across the industry, and meet new researchers. Each week, the newsletter captures the pulse of our community and answers a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?
Hi Jeff, Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Jeff Solomon, a cultural and linguistic anthropologist by training. Since graduate school I’ve deliberately focused my work on using qualitative research methods and analyses to address human problems. For many years I’ve focused on challenges in healthcare and education, but recently I have entered a new realm: insurance, specifically at Nationwide.
What tools do you regularly use in your research?
During the pandemic most researchers have had to adapt by using Zoom or other video platforms, which I certainly have done. In my new position the platform I’ll be using is UserZoom, which I look forward to learning. In the past I’ve used NVivo to code interview transcripts, but my current role doesn’t afford that kind of time. There’s a particular way of organizing top level findings that’s spelled out in a book that shapes our approach, called The Jobs to be Done Playbook, by Kalbach. In essence, key findings are put into an Excel table with verbatim examples or descriptions as support.
From your experience, what is one of the biggest challenges user research(ers) face today?
I think a big challenge, especially for those coming directly from academia, is highly accelerated timelines for projects and the very concept of research sprints. Even though I’ve not spent my career until now in academia in the traditional sense, my previous roles afforded more time to conduct research than is currently afforded. I think another challenge is the focus in UX research on present very concise findings that are perceived by the organization in which one works as actionable.
How do you separate your work life from your home life?
I’m very lucky in that I’ve never really had too much trouble separating my work and home lives, even while working at home (since the rise of the pandemic and since getting a new remote position). For some reason, I’m able to shut off work pretty effectively, perhaps in part because there are things I enjoy doing to wind down and relax. There’s no question, however, that getting away from time to time is especially helpful, so we try to travel when we can, even if small weekend getaways.
Thank you, Jeff!
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