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Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
The UX research reckoning is here | Judd Antin (Airbnb, Meta)

The UX research reckoning is here | Judd Antin (Airbnb, Meta)


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Judd Antin has spent 15 years leading research and design teams at companies like Yahoo, Meta, and Airbnb. His direct reports have gone on to lead user research at Figma, Notion, Slack, Robinhood, Duolingo, AllTrails, and more. In our conversation, we unpack the transformation that the user-research field is experiencing. Specifically:

  • Where user research went wrong over the past decade

  • The three types of research—macro, middle-range, and micro—and the purpose of each

  • How to effectively integrate researchers into the product development process

  • The “user-centered performance” phenomenon and why it’s a waste of time

  • Common tropes about PMs, from researchers

  • The ideal ratio of researchers in a company

  • Why Judd says NPS is useless, and what to use instead

Some takeaways:

  1. User research has been significantly impacted by layoffs, and with new market dynamics, there is a need for a shift in the way user research is conducted.

  2. The wrong type of user research is being conducted most of the time, with a focus on “middle-range” topics, which are interesting but not impactful enough for the business.

  3. Researchers need to become business-oriented and focus on finding the overlap between user needs and business goals, not just user needs.

  4. Integrating research from the beginning of the product development process is crucial for leveraging your user researcher best.

  5. Consider shifting from NPS to CSAT for more accurate and useful feedback.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Overcast, and YouTube.

Where to find Judd Antin:

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juddantin/

• Website: https://juddantin.com/

• Blog: https://medium.com/onebigthought

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Judd’s background

(04:16) Critiques and responses to Judd’s post “The UX Research Reckoning Is Here”

(07:33) The state of user research

(08:53) Macro, middle-range, and micro research

(14:05) What teams get wrong when it comes to research

(15:46) The importance of integrating research from the beginning

(17:30) Traits of great researchers

(19:53) Advice for evaluating user researchers

(21:10) Balancing business and product focus

(23:55) User-centered performance

(26:42) The role of intuition in product development

(30:15) Checking your gut instincts

(32:54) Common tropes about PMs, from researchers

(41:02) A/B testing vs. user research

(43:15) Hindsight bias and narrative fallacy

(44:55) Making recommendations based on research

(47:26) Advice for teams on how to leverage researchers

(51:18) How product managers can be better partners to user researchers

(56:53) The ideal ratio of researchers in a company

(59:43) Empowering user researchers to drive impact

(01:03:39) The limitations of NPS as a metric

(01:06:48) The risks of dogfooding

(01:08:51) Lightning round


• Matt Gallivan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattgallivan/

• Janna Bray on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janna-bray-a4046a25/

• Celeste Ridlen on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/celesteridlen/

• Rebecca Gray on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccagray2/

• Hannah Pileggi on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-pileggi-43169314/

• Louise Beryl on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louise-beryl-13225833/

• The UX Research Reckoning Is Here: https://medium.com/onebigthought/the-ux-research-reckoning-is-here-c63710ea4084

• The end of the “free money” era: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/apr/11/techscape-zirp-tech-boom

• Cognitive biases: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

• IDEO design thinking: https://designthinking.ideo.com/

Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Obvious-Common-Sense-Fails/dp/0307951790

• Patrick Collison’s tweet: https://twitter.com/patrickc/status/1443215022029619200?lang=en

• Brian Chesky on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianchesky/

• Brian Chesky on Lenny’s Podcast: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/brian-cheskys-new-playbook/

• NPS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_promoter_score

• What is CSAT and how do you measure it?: https://www.qualtrics.com/experience-management/customer/what-is-csat/

• Michael Murakami on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhmurakami/

Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Leadership-Happens-Matters-Common/dp/1591391660

Demon Copperhead: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Copperhead-Novel-Barbara-Kingsolver/dp/0063251922

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries: https://www.amazon.com/All-Systems-Red-Murderbot-Diaries/dp/0765397536

The Last of Us on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/the-last-of-us

• Belay glasses: https://www.amazon.com/Belay-Glasses-Climbing-Comfortable-Sturdy/dp/B08GSBYDKQ/

• Epictetus: Control What You Can—Especially Yourself: https://www.shortform.com/blog/epictetus-control/

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change: https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful/dp/0743269519

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.