An interview with Jeff Sauro

About Jeff Sauro

Jeff is a Principal at Measuring Usability and the man behind Usablestats.com. Jeff is a Six-Sigma trained statistical analyst and pioneer in quantifying the user experience. He specializes in making statistical concepts understandable and actionable. Jeff has published over fifteen peer-reviewed research articles and presents tutorials and papers regularly at the leading Human Computer Interaction conferences: CHI, UPA, HCII, and HFES. He has worked for Oracle, PeopleSoft, Intuit and General Electric. Jeff received his Masters in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University with a concentration in statistical concepts. Prior to Stanford, he received his BS in Information Management & Technology and BS in Television, Radio and Film from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse he completed a two-year thesis study on web-usability.

 

Main points

  • The term “research” connotes an academic exercise so the primary challenge is tying research results to benefits to the company.
  • To identify research opportunities, find a project with high visibility and high impact, even if there isn’t an explicit research focus.
  • When stakeholders tell me that five participants are not enough, I tell them they are right. These will only be good for identifying the obvious problems. Usually, there are many of those to work on.
  • It’s generally good practice to do what you are told to do. But people will not get mad at you if you suggest alternatives that you believe would improve a product.
  • Effective deliverables are short reports (not longer than 10-15 pages) and visualizations of numbers resonate well with stakeholders.
  • Sometimes it is appropriate to provide findings without recommendations. It is important to make stakeholders aware this is the case.
  • In other cases, people will want to hear your opinion and recommendations.
  • Quantify your output to make it easier for stakeholders to understand research results.
  • Any qualitative study can benefit from a numerical aspect.