Event description

This intimate panel discussion will focus on the unique challenges and joys of Research, and its integral relationship to Design. While physical artifacts often shape our perception of a product, that work cannot begin with purpose if we do not frame the right questions, probe, study, and understand how people might integrate that product into their lives.

With even the most careful planning, the researcher’s journey often leads down unexpected paths. We’ll hear the untold stories from the field, hilarious anecdotes from the lab, tales carried back from far off lands, and the lessons that were learned along the way about:

• Recruiting subjects
• Building trust with users
• Achieving deep understanding vs. validation
• Circumventing biases and assumptions


Steve Portigal
Steve Portigal helps companies to think and act strategically when innovating with user insights. He is principal of Portigal Consulting, author of Interviewing Users: How To Uncover Compelling Insights and host of the Dollars to Donuts podcast.He’s an enthusiastic traveler and an avid photographer with a Museum of Foreign Groceries in his home.
Indi Young
Indi Young is an empathy-based design researcher and coach in the technology world. She helps organizations understand the people they support as humans, not just as “users.” She co-founded the UX agency Adaptive Path. She is the author of two books, Mental Models and Practical Empathy and publishes on Medium and her newsletter Indi In Your Inbox..
Raaid Ahmad
Raaid Ahmad helps people turn data into actionable insights. He invests in and advises for businesses that are committed to data-informed decision-making. He is currently the Head of Analytics and Data Science at Weebly. In past lives he was a portfolio risk manager at the largest hedge fund in the world, software engineer, and professional poker player. He is passionate about personal finance, effective altruism, and the intersection of data and human cognition.
Nancy Douyon
Nancy Douyon is a User Experience Research Program Manager at Google. She has a special focus on remote user research methods and emerging markets. Her daily quest is to increase the usability of products, applications, complex systems and websites across different cultural ideals and cultural practices. Prior to Google, Nancy worked at IBM Interactive Research, Accenture Experience Agency, and Intel’s Mobility Group. She was instrumental in creating a User Experience Lifecycle approach to help illuminate practical applications of technology in the global south and beyond.


Shane Johnston
Over the last decade, Shane Johnston has helped companies think smarter about their customers, on the client side in the Behavioral Science organization at Proctor & Gamble and on the agency side at Ogilvy. Shane now works as a researcher at Twitter, where he helps create the next generation of offerings for one of the most exciting and important companies in the world. Shane is also an accomplished filmmaker, whose work has appeared at several festivals, including Sundance and SXSW.

Researchers, data scientists, and designers who wear the research hat will come together to share how they surface qualitative and quantitative findings. And how they communicate the problems and opportunities they discover in a way that empowers their design teams to deliver value.