– Hi, I’m Joe Welinske, and I’m the Program Manager for Convey UX, and that’s been Seattle’s annual User Experience Conference for the past seven years. It’s produced by Blink, and we’re excited to be going into our eighth year. So we’re going to be March third, fourth and fifth in downtown Seattle. And one of the fun things I get to do as Program Manager is talk to all of our great speakers, and today I am speaking with Laura Joss. Hello, Laura. How are you?

– Hi, nice to see you.

– Well, it’s good to have you as part of the program, and so we’ll talk about your session and some other things, but first, why don’t we start with you talking a little bit about your background and the types of things that you do for work.

– Great, yeah. So, like Joe said, my name is Laura Joss. I am the Global Director for User Research at Motorola Mobility, where we’re headquartered in downtown Chicago. So, when I say that I am the Global Director for User Research, what that means is that I sit in our design team. We have a centralized design team at Motorola, so I work with UX designers and industrial designers, and then my research team makes up kind of the third leg of our design team, and our job is around the world, to talk to users and gather data to help inform our product development process. That can mean from the very beginning of the product development stage, when you’re coming up with new ideas and trying to figure out what pain points are out there in the world that we could potentially solve with design. Or it can be more iterative design research where we’re looking to understand, do the parts and pieces of our product make sense to a regular person? Once we get further down the product pipeline, then we can do really fun things where we shop along with users and understand what their purchase process is like and then what it’s like for them to open up our product and start using it for the first time. So, we kind of go on this journey with the product teams from conception to execution, making sure that we’re infusing user insights all along the way. So, that’s a little bit, I think, about what we do and how we do it.

– Well, I think most people are familiar with the Motorola brand. Maybe talk a little bit about Motorola Mobility and what that, what types of products and services that you represent.

– Yeah! So, Motorola I think, you know what people hear about it, they kinda know we’ve gone on a little bit of a wild ride over the past two years. We started as a very big company, and then in 2012 we split into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions. So, on the Mobility side we’re very focused on mobile devices. We’ve had different owners over the years. So, in 2013, 2014, we were owned by Google and did a very wide ecosystem of devices from smartphones to wearables, so things more like the wrist watch. Once we then were sold by Google and picked up by Lenovo, who is now our current owner, we really focus in on the smartphone and the smartphone form factor. But we didn’t stick with just your regular smartphone, we’ve explored all sorts of new ways to kind of push the hardware boundary. One example is our Moto Mods platform that we had for the past two years where you would have these different parts of the phone that you could add on that would extend the functionality, make your phone something like a 360 camera or a projector. So, we’re always trying to push that forefront of form factor and seeing kind of, where we could take it and where it can go. We also are very focused in the smartphone industry at being an approachable brand. And so, not just making phones for people who want to spend you know, 800, 900 dollars on a phone, but also for your everyday person who just wants a phone that looks nice, works well, and does something exciting for them, and gives them that basic functionality that everybody really just wants to be carrying around in their pocket without having to worry about it. And so, we’ve made really big strides as a company and as a brand to reach that middle market and the lower tier markets, as well without asking those consumers to sacrifice on quality.

– From all things that you mentioned, it sounds like a really wide menu of things to be concerned about, so I’m sure that keeps you pretty busy. What are some of the things that you’ve been thinking about now, types of activities or things that you are particularly passionate about?

– Yeah, well I mentioned earlier that I’m the Global Director, we’re a global company, and so it’s really important for us to have a pulse not only on our consumers in North America, but also in Asia, in Europe, in Latin America. And so, one of the things I’m really passionate about is trying to figure out the best way to get data from all over the world without necessarily having to go on a world tour every time you have a research question. And so, some of that is understanding you know, what things are common across different groups of people and different locations. A great example is something like ergonomics and reach. Everybody has hands, I don’t necessarily need to go to China and Brazil and Europe and all over the U.S. to understand how something like reach-ability or button placement or things like that, how those work or don’t work for consumers. But, when you’re thinking about possible product areas or experience areas to design for, then you do want to find ways to get a pulse on all these different regions and different areas. And so, how can you do that, and what tools are available to us, or what tools can we design to allow us to get some of that data? And then, how do you pepper that in with actual face to face time with users, as well. So, how do you decide when we need to actually be in the room with you and see you, versus we can look at analytics that we can pull from devices versus things like online diary studies or surveys. There’s so many different ways that you can get data and it can become overwhelming. You have all these different sources and all these different you know, places to go and then how do you put that all together to have a really clear and coherent recommendation for a design team or a product manager or senior leadership who you know, doesn’t necessarily have the time to understand all of that and listen to all of that, they just need the takeaway.

– Well, you mentioned whether or not you’re right there with the people you’re designing for and it kinda leads into your topic, which is the importance of qualitative interviews in an age of automated data collection. So, why don’t you talk a little bit about what you’ll be presenting at the conference.

– Yeah, so I’ll be talking about how you marry qualitative data with some of the automated data processes that are out there today. So, data analytics has become hugely popular and very accessible for a lot of companies. And it is a great tool. But it does have its limits. Same thing with measurements like Net Promoter Score, NPS. These are things that businesses and companies understand and want and want to use as a part of their consumer-centered approach. But it doesn’t always tell the full story. It can tell you the what really well, and really strongly, and really statistically strongly, which does help. But understanding what’s driving some of that behavior and where some of those numbers are coming from is also essential if you want to then design solutions to address some of the things that you’re seeing maybe not perform as well. And so, when you do incorporate qualitative research? How do you do it so that it’s done in a way that it doesn’t slow things down? Right, because that’s a clear pain point sometimes with qualitative research is that it takes a while to get and to set up, whereas the analytics are right there. And so, we’ll talk a little bit about approaches to all of those things. You know, how do you work those things together so that you have a really strong story at the end of the day that tells you the what and the why.

– Well, that should be a interesting presentation for everybody at the conference and we look forward to hosting you when you make your journey from Chicago to Seattle in March.

– Yeah, I’m so excited, I can’t wait!

– Thanks a lot, Laura. Bye, bye.

– Thank you.