Lauren’s FAQ about UXR

#1 What do you do as a UX researcher? 

My job is to help our teams understand our users’ needs and guide decisions to better our products. My role splits into two portions: conducting research and being a lead on my product team:

#2 How do you use skills from Linguistics in your current work?

A lot of the underlying research skills that I developed in linguistics are directly applicable to designing and conducting user research (e.g., creating discussion guides and conducting interviews, designing surveys, determining sample size and methods, doing literature reviews, coming up with hypotheses and how to test them, etc). 

There are also some more direct ways that linguistics is relevant to my current work. How we interact with technology often involves language (e.g., written text), so my research often touches on how intuitive or easy to understand that language is. Another way I draw on my linguistics training is in clearly and effectively communicating research findings to my cross-functional partners and leadership. I've started workshops that teach researchers how to use metaphor in their findings. 

#3 How did you end up in a UXR role?

My path was a bit windy. After my PhD, I had a teaching position at USC. I ultimately decided that while I wanted to keep doing research, academia wasn’t a good fit for me. My first job outside of linguistics was in market research at an agency. Since then, I've doing UX research in-house at Instagram. 

#4 How do you “sell” or talk about linguistics to recruiters and in interviews?

I think the key here is taking a step back from the linguistics jargon and learning to talk about the underlying skills you have, and being able to talk about your research projects in a way a non-linguist, non-academic can understand. I wrote up blurbs for my website about a handful of projects in this way. I'm not sure very many people actually went to my website and read them (although one interviewer said they had!), but it helped me become better versed in framing and discussing my research for a wider audience. I think it's very important that you demonstrate that you are able to communicate about complex topics in a clear and simple way, without making assumptions about what's important to your audience.  

#5 Is your work interesting?

This question is indeed asked frequently and it always makes me laugh! First, I’ll tell you what I think this question gets wrong and then I will tell you why I find my work interesting.