Editorial, Research, Strategy, Creative Direction, Product

Exotic Research

After years of interviewing folks around the world reporting for newspapers and magazines, I’ve learned a thing or two about the art of the interview.

Having a set of keys for even the most rusty lock is a foundation for exotic UX research, be it simple information gathering, deep background digging or engaged, in-person user experience research.

I’ve got a deep bench of specialist collaborators and research fixers accustomed to empaneling participants around the world at quick notice to get deep into the heart of a trend, subculture, or pain point.

It’s not quite university anthropology, but it gets you to the bottom of the gold mine of human insight and actionable intelligence all the same.

Case Study: Creative Communities Insights for Microsoft


Microsoft wanted to understand digital subcultures to bring a product focused on creative communities to life.


We used robust user research to test a hypothesis around building a marketplace for an entirely new category of intellectual property creation (“Beihai”).

My team commissioned and directed a series of qualitative interviews with subculture influencers and matched them with broader creative trends, packaging them up into a short film and book.


Our work seeped into the project’s culture and drove design consideration and roadmap evolution from leadership to individual contributors.

Additional Microsoft research work included a comprehensive survey of philosophical and psychological literature to determine and deploy a set of guidelines for incorporating human needs into design systems.