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UXR Spotlight: Marty Gage

Marty Gage
Marty Gage

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?

Tell us a little about yourself, Marty Gage.
Hi, I’m Marty Gage. I’ve been doing generative user research since 1989, consulting for Fortune 500 companies to help them figure out what to design. For the last 17 years I’ve been the Vice President of User Experience Research at Lextant, the human experience firm. I’m one of the authors of USER EXPERIENCE RESEARCH: Discover what customers really want. The book was written to support a certification in generative research for the Savannah College of Art and Design.

What do you wish you knew when you began your research journey?
How to describe the business value of upfront user research.

  1. No one wants to read a long boring research report. Put all the big ideas on one page with lots of whitespace. Make it visually engaging!
  2. Alignment is critical. Work hard to make sure everyone in the organization agrees upon what the user desires and the choices the organization needs to make to get there.
  3. The stuff in the book. It took 30 years to figure it all out.

What is the most fun experience you have had in a user study?
It’s all been so fun. I love what I do. I’ve been in million-dollar homes and drab concrete high rises sitting on a couch with no cushions, farms, hospitals, job sites, trade shows, military bases, factories, and more. Meeting people from all over the world, having them welcome me into their homes and workplaces, offer me food, and share intimate details about their lives and dreams for the future has been so incredible. I’m lucky to have had so many great clients and co-workers to share all these adventures with. Also, working with students!

What would you like to talk about with other researchers?
Desired experiences. People’s ideal emotional state when interacting with products, services, spaces, architecture, food, formulations, screens, anything. These are future focused and not constrained by the world of today. This enables a description of the ideal “thing” in a very actionable way. It fuels design criteria and opportunity spaces. It’s easier than you would think to get this information from people. It really does work every time in the marketplace. It’s covered in the book: Hit me up anytime on LinkedIn. I love to talk about this stuff.

Thank you, Marty Gage!