Tips for better user research interviews. Tips for better conversations.

man writing in notebook listening
man writing in notebook listening
Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

There is close to nothing in this world with as many possible outcomes as a conversation with a stranger. Sometimes a single word, a pause, or a nod of the head can lead to a completely different exchange. Demonstrating this point, when Michael Barbaro, host of the Daily podcast, responded to the most polarizing feature of his interviews, the feature in question was an inconspicuous sound. He often interjected Hmmms to affirm he was listening.

I have found that it is perfectly okay to sweat the tiny details when it comes to pulling off a great generative research interview. …

When degraded and interrupted audio affects the workplace, here is what we can do about it.

Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

It was a few minutes past the hour when the rest of my team joined. Their faces appearing in a burst on the carousel at the bottom of my screen. A previous meeting had kept them too long, they claimed, and after trading a few Happy Mondays, our cheerful project manager called the meeting to order.

From the crackle and distortion of her voice, I assumed she was sitting in an echo friendly area, possibly in her car, or more likely, my own internet connection was as unstable as it had been all week. “Sorry for the background noise,” she…

Significant mobile app updates during the pandemic and what they mean.

Uber Eats updated its app at least 4 times per month since May (image credit: Charles Deluvio)

They say we grow the most at night during our sleep. Our phones do as well. With the correct settings in place, the app store begins its nightly routine of updating our phones’ apps.

Come morning, and a brand new feature was added or vanished. Open Uber, a ride-sharing app, happily stumble upon Wait and Save, a new feature that saves money on a morning commute. A change can be a special treat, a much-needed respite, or irksome. More commonly, we never notice the change occurred. We rarely think about our apps as living things that change. However, this characteristic…

We tend to trust what we hear from others is true and we consistently misunderstand each other. The result is that we miss opportunities to build the products our customers need. But there are ways to avoid this trap.

Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

The founding journalists at the Washington Post might agree with Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author of Talking to Strangers when he wrote that “defaulting to truth is a problem.”

When listening to others there is a tendency to walk away with a surface level of understanding. We contextualize what others say with our own experience and not theirs. It can be a fatal flaw in understanding them.

When what people say or do is not necessarily what they mean, we must dig deeper. A tendency to truth-default is why journalists have to seek out the truth and why the Washington…

John Haglund

I work in human-centered design and write about business, technology, and the digital economy. Want to collaborate? Reach me at

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