The humble usability study has become maligned by UX researchers … and it shouldn’t be.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

At the foundation of every UX researcher’s methods toolkit is the humble usability study. We often think of usability studies as simple but understanding when to conduct usability research in the product lifecycle, how to get answers to the questions you and your team have early in the lifecycle (and with minimal engineering effort), how to moderate sessions, and how to interpret the results and make recommendations takes a lot of time, practice, and patience. More time, practice, and patience than most early career UX researchers realize. …


Nobody gets anywhere by themselves.

A photo of Big Sur, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range in the background and a green hillside with trees in the foreground.
A photo of Big Sur, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range in the background and a green hillside with trees in the foreground.
I’m grateful for Big Sur, CA. Photo by author.

I recently wrote about the top 5 interview mistakes I see UXers making over and over again. I ended that post reminding people to send a thank you note after their interviews. That got me thinking about gratitude in general at work.

Not enough people show gratitude at work. And they should.

The reality is that nobody gets anywhere in life without a lot of help from a lot of people. When I look back on my career, there were different people who were more senior than me who opened doors for me. They saw something in me and gave…


Don’t get in the way of your own success

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Over the past fifteen years of my career, I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing UX researchers and designers. Last I checked, I have conducted over 180 interviews at Google. There are times when I find UX candidates get in the way of their own success. Here are five mistakes that I see UX candidates making over and over again:

  1. Being rude to interviewers. At some point in my life, I learned that I needed to be on my best behavior during interviews (whether I’m a candidate or interviewer). Remarkably not everyone seems to have gotten this message! I know…


What nobody tells you in school

Three people look over a laptop and papers displaying low fidelity mocks.
Three people look over a laptop and papers displaying low fidelity mocks.
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Intern season is almost here! If you’ve managed to snag an internship for the summer, congrats! Internships are a great way to build experience when you’re new to the UX field. I’m grateful that I had an opportunity to intern at Xerox when I was in grad school. It was my first time working on a UX team and I learned a ton during the summer (including learning to love Los Angeles!). But other than getting practical UX experience, I didn’t really know how to make the most of my internship. …


Not possible.

Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

One thing I’ve learned in the midst of trying to renovate a house in the middle of the pandemic in the Bay Area — all service providers in the construction/home renovation space are very very busy. With so many people spending more time at home, a lot of people are taking advantage of the time to renovate their homes.

While I have a vision for what I want in my house, I don’t know enough to execute that vision. Shortly after my offer was accepted, I attempted to hire a designer to help me with designing the renovations. …


The University of Michigan. Photo by author.

Several weeks ago, a reader left a comment asking for advice. They wanted my perspective on whether they needed to get a PhD to pursue a career in UX research.

The short answer is: No.

The longer answer is much more complicated. For some odd reason, the answer to this question seems to always be a bit contentious and some UXRs get very emotional about it. I get the sense that for some UXRs the answer to this question gets very personal — almost as if the answer itself is a condemnation of their life choices. …


Densely clustered homes with a hillside in the background. Sutro Tower is at the top of the hill in the background.
Densely clustered homes with a hillside in the background. Sutro Tower is at the top of the hill in the background.
San Francisco. Photo by author.

During my second summer living in the Bay Area (2007), I decided I wanted to try finding a place in San Francisco. I was in my late twenties and wanted a new experience. The tech economy was booming and lots of people were moving to San Francisco and the Bay Area in general. Trying to find an apartment in the city was ultra competitive. I’d show up to an open house early only to find 10 or 20 other young people standing outside the building waiting for an agent or landlord to let us in. Once you were let in…

Noor Ali-Hasan

I’m a UX research lead at Google, where I help teams design and build desirable and easy to use products. Outside of work, I love art, Peloton, and Lego.

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