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Spotlight: Nikki Anderson-Stanier

Spotlight: Nikki Anderson-Stanier
Nikki with her dog Poncho

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?

Nikki, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I'm Nikki Anderson-Stanier, a qualitative user researcher who meandered into the field through a mixture of a background in psychology and attending a party in which someone started talking about this elusive thing called user experience. After finding out I was abysmal at design, I discovered the niche of user research and fell in love. Eight years later, here I am, running my own company where I coach others in the field and consult for companies. Outside of user research, you can find me reading, writing, and being out and about with my horse or dog - we just moved to Jersey (the old Jersey in the Channel Islands), so I get outside every chance I can!

Your community contributions are very impressive! You have been part of every episode of User Weekly since its launch 11 weeks ago. What motivates you? And how do you manage to write such high-quality content on a weekly basis while having a full-time job?
Ah, thank you! The most motivating aspect of my work is getting this message in my inbox: “Thank you so much for writing X or Y article, it helped me get a new job, feel more confidence, or understand how to get started.” There is literally nothing better than hearing from people who might have been doing the same thing I was eight years ago: frantically Googling how to do something! Writing feels like part of my job, honestly. I want to help others through the struggles I encountered throughout the years and writing is the best way I can do that! It’s all about picking what you love and what you find rewards in, and just going for it!

What’s the best career decision you’ve made?
Quitting jobs when I am no longer learning or not getting support from management. It is terrifying to interview for a new job and to make the leap to a new role, but it is such a critical part of moving forward. There are so many companies out there that, unfortunately, hire researchers to tick off a box on a checklist. But, thankfully, there are so many others who truly care about taking in and listening to user researchers. It is in these companies you will grow, learn, and move forward in your career. If you are having to fight every step (and trust me, I have), it isn’t you, it’s them. Find a place that appreciates you and your work.

What does your family think of your work?
It’s hilarious explaining my job and role to my family. Until recently both my parents and my in-laws said that I work in “IT.” I think user experience is something that the general public think about, but it’s all behind the scenes, rather than something that is obvious like UI design. I hear all the time, “oh that was a bad customer experience” but people aren’t thinking about how a company might improve that. I always explain my job as, “you know the apps you use? I am the person that tries to figure out where these apps are messing up and helping teams make better decisions to help you.” Still, to my family, I am IT and tech support - whenever anything goes wrong with phones, computers, you name it, I am the first line of support they go to!

How can people learn more about you and your work?
I own a company that does a lot of coaching and courses for those at all levels of their user research career - from beginners or those who are field-adjacent to leaders and managers. You can check out all my services here. Also, feel free to ping me on LinkedIn about all things user research!

Thank you, Nikki!