Eryn Whitworth Ph.D.
Eryn Whitworth Ph.D.
"All the work of the hand is rooted in thinking.‎" – David Sudnow

Industry Research Summary

 

As a business-minded social scientist, I am passionate about translating data-driven insights into practical design to improve user experience. At work, I enjoy collaborating on multi-disciplinary teams, especially in close cooperation with engineers. I can manage multi-party initiatives despite real life complexity to ultimately deliver end-to-end research with rigor, quality, and efficiency.

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Learn more about my current resarch

 

 

Currently based in rainy Redmond, Washington.

These pages highlight UX research projects I conducted in a range of industry contexts.
Scroll through to learn more about:

  • crowdsourced solutions for product findability
  • concept validation for camera hardware evaluation
  • narrative-informed the notions of "ownership" on cloud platforms

Details of my upcoming speaking engagements are listed down below.

 
 

 

Crowdsourcing e-Commerce Taxonomies

Grainger, UX Researcher Taxonomy Division, May 2015 – June 2016

In order to optimize the shopping experience on Grainger.com, the taxonomy team needed to account for customers’ differing understandings of the online catalog of 1.6 million products. 

Industrial supplies are numerous and varied and this makes exceptional product findability a considerable challenge when customers lack on the job know-how. 

A typical problem...

The company’s pair of heavily-gendered and otherwise over-simplified customer personas masked a true understanding of customers across multiple demographic, attitudinal, and knowledge-based measures, making these personas unsuitable for evaluating customers’ understanding of Grainger’s taxonomy. Ultimately, this demanded our team perform customer segmentation.

Further complicating matters...

The team needed to develop a strict hierarchical design because the e-commerce platform only allowed products to appear within a single category. Ultimately, this demanded that the taxonomy team thoroughly validate product “findability” against verified customer segments.

To meet these demands...

The team used two complementary approaches: one traditional and qualitative the other novel and quantitative.

A traditional qualitative approach: The team segmented Grainger’s customer base drawing on multiple qualitative methodologies including remote customer interviews and focus group discussions.

Across these qualitative methodologies, I took pains to evaluate customer’s knowledge regarding industrial materials and equipment, which sharply impacted customer's ability to find products. For instance traditional phone interview and observational studies offered opportunities to assess customer knowledge of industrial supplies and re-cast company personas based on knowledge and experience

A novel quantitative approach: I led the implementation of this later approach drawing on previous academic work on crowdsourcing platforms, which offered huge possibilities to make quantitative UX research cost-effective. For Grainger, crowdsourcing platforms offered the ability to assess customer product knowledge and performance of product findability in aggregate. To accomplish this I leveraged a reverse card-sort method for crowd-sourced evaluations of product findability, using the eight step research process diagrammed below.

This diagram describes the research process I developed to leverage off-the-shelf crowdsourcing technologies in a cost-efficient way.

As part of this research process, I managed Grainger’s engagement with the MTurk community and tested the efficacy of existing pricing models for micro-work tasks. By experimenting with pricing models to improve task performance, I accelerated task completion without unduly sacrificing worker satisfaction.

Data-driven design outcomes...

Testing existing taxonomies with their designed alternatives on a crowdsourcing platform enabled the taxonomy team to make measurable enhancements to the online shopping experience across all customer segments.  

In sum, using a combination of research approaches further increased the scope and efficiency of our taxonomy research and ultimately boot-strapped a data driven redesign of major product categories.

In addition, the team was able to approximate, qualify, and quantify the needs of five distinct user groups through a thoroughly mixed methods approach.

On top of all that...

Working at Grainger I aslo cultivated skills in division building, and in-person and remote collaboration. For example, in my capacity as UX researcher I also trained junior researchers on rigorous qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including experimental design.

 
 

 

Driving Camera Innovation

Intel Labs, User Experience Intern, August – December 2012

Intel Labs needed to assess the viability of a camera-array technology as part of product concept development within a hardware engineering and design team. To address this need the team sought speculative user research insights to inform this technology’s feature offering. 

A camera array relies on multiple micro-lenses placed in front of an otherwise conventional image sensor to sense intensity, color, and directional information

To address this need...

I planned a multi-population qualitative user research study to evaluate the camera-array features and use cases and a hi-fidelity prototype.

As frequently occurs this study required specialized recruiting, which proved especially challenging for this project.

To recruit for the study, I synthesized market research reports to identify potential users and served as a liaison with external market research agencies tasked with finding participants.

My analysis uncovered...

Drawing on focus group input, my analysis uncovered that professional and amateur photographers have differing values regarding imaging gimmicks, the viewer’s trust, and the photographer’s reputation.

Based on this input I developed requirements for camera technology by customer population type.

Ultimately my contributions informed user experience design of the RealSense imaging technology. 

 
 
 

 

Shaping Cloud "Ownership"

Microsoft Research, User Experience Intern, August – December 2011

As part of a multi-year research initiative, the Microsoft Research's Files 2020 project needed to explore the social implications of file ownership in cloud-based storage. 

 Social media enthusiasts sometimes remove content from cloud platforms, but what if they could retain the content but change its access.

Social media enthusiasts sometimes remove content from cloud platforms, but what if they could retain the content but change its access.

To address this need...

I devised, recruited, and conducted interview study to examine Facebook users’ recollections of and attitudes around content deletion.

 

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My analysis uncovered...

Based on themes drawn from my interview transcripts I proposed a new file-level interaction called “withdraw.”

The withdraw interaction augmented privacy settings to remove but not destroy social media content at users’ request.

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Shaping the cloud debate on "ownership"...

My participation on this and other Files 2020 projects provided an opportunity to share our work on the new age of cloud-based file ownership in with multiple HCI communities through conference publications (CHI 2012, CSCW 2013, and IR 2013) and white papers.

 
 

Industry Publications

Conference

Whitworth, E. & Mehus, S. (2017). Microethnography: a UX research method for next wave technology. Radical Research, Vancouver.

Now that we've entered the era of ubiquitous computing (predicted by Weiser and Seely Brown in 1996), UX research methods that focus on the interaction between an individual and a screen are no longer adequate. People interact with one another and with technology through a rich mixture of sensory modalities: visual, vocal, auditory, gestural, and haptic. Microethnographic techniques offer a means of describing and analyzing multimodal interactions among humans and their technological tools as they unfold in physical and digital spaces. In this talk we describe how to leverage microethnographic methods to inform the design of multimodal interactions for home and enterprise products by providing guidance for collection and analysis of multimedia data.

Whitworth, E. & Einhorn, F. (2018) Principles of Sense Augmentation for Shared Care. SXSW, Austin (under review, please vote). 

Healthcare technologies typically focus on supporting the patient. Yet, we know that care is a social process in which caregivers have a central role. If technology could enable caregivers to share a patient’s sensory experience, how might that improve health care? In this talk, we’ll introduce design principles – inspired by the body hacking community’s use of sense augmentation – for enhancing existing healthcare products, as well as designing new products for fostering empathy in shared care.