Interview with James Tucker
Q: After being in the creative space for 24 years, what gets you fired up nowadays?A: I get fired up on taking ideas to the next level through behavioral research and how people engage emotionally with web applications, e-commerce, and B2B software. The usability issues are low-hanging fruits, but to really find out how to improve a product or marketing strategy, there has to be some breakthroughs in the research.
Q: How do you accomplish quality research?
A: The data is only as good as the reasearch but the problems need to be clearly identified. Analytics can tell you some things but it doesn't tell us "why" people bail or buy. Just that they did. If the design needs to change to produce better results, then the design needs to appeal to the deeper subconscious thoughts and reactions.
Q: Then how do you get data to uncover that?
To produce this intense research data, I have to conduct field studies, design relevant prototypes, observe usage patterns, and then present the findings. The end-game of my contribution is to have a "business case for change" and know which features are required based on qualitative and quantitative data. I have to validate theories and uncover assumptions that could be masquerading as facts. If there are assumptions by the product teams and engineers, those also have to go through a scientific method with proper validation techniques.
Q: What seems to produce the most convincing data?
A: Prototypes hands down. Wireframes and flowcharts are fine for internal teams but the faster you can get a product, software, or service in front of the audience it's all a guessing game. After watching people interact with the product and share thoughts about what they are experiencing, I can advance the design process further along and reduce iteration cycles and improve the likelihood of success.
Q: Are the decision-makers confident in making changes based on your data?
It's not really "my data" - it's a very calculated approach to discover perceived and intrinsic value. I am able to provide larger samples that give them confidence to make a radical change. In other projects I have seen, the researchers only have three users and nobody in their right mind will make a radical change based on that. For usability issues it's acceptable, but not for redesigns or new expensive features that could take months to implement.
Q: Why do you like doing the research and the high-fidelity prototypes?
A: I love it because it fuses my analytical skills and design skills into data I am proud to present to executive teams. When the prototypes produce emotional results from the user testing and the teams observe this, the picture is clear and it is faster to produce the deliverables needed to address the problems.
Check out James' portfolio here and view samples of information design, interfaces, UX decks, and more.