Global UXR Interview series – Dan Sydney Australia

Paul Blunden: Hello, and welcome to another in my series, where i’ll be talking to one of our many global research practitioners.

My name is Paul London. I’m. Founder of UX24/7, and we help product managers product owners ux researches to improve their products by helping them Be more customer centric.

anyway. Let’s crack on and see how guest is today.

Hello! And thank you for giving up your time to speak with me today. Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself. What’s your name? And where about you located

Dan Sorvik: no problem and thanks for having me, Paul. My name is Dan Sovick. I work as a Ux researcher and I’m based in Sydney, Australia.

Paul Blunden: Okay. And how long have you lived in Sydney?

Dan Sorvik: I’ve been in Sydney for about 6 years now? I Oh, sorry i’m here For 11 years. I was about 6 years in London before that, and prior to that I lived. I grew up in was raised, and went to college in Minnesota, in the U.S.A.

Paul Blunden: So pretty well traveled.

Dan Sorvik: Yeah, covering covering all the English speaking spots, I suppose.

Paul Blunden: Well, that leads me to my next question. Actually, because a lot of our research is a multilingual, particularly the ones who live in Europe and travel around. Do you have any languages in addition to English.

Dan Sorvik: a little bit of Spanish. But no, I I just speak English, but my my background is actually a technical writing, so I like to think that i’m a bit of a translator in, in, but of just one language, but no just English.

Paul Blunden: And then, how did you get into ux research

Dan Sorvik: through my degree. We had a usability lab on campus, and I was an intern there. I turned a 6 month internship into 20 months absolutely loved it. We also did some accessibility work, some eye tracking work.

And yeah, that probably gave me the foundation where I could start as a junior researcher.

Paul Blunden: Fantastic. And do you do? You have a favorite methodology?

Dan Sorvik: Currently, I I do a lot of eye tracking myself. It’s pretty niche, but I’ve been doing it for my my whole career 18 years, and that’s definitely my my favorite. I find that it is incredibly point of view. You understand kind of the information that’s going in to someone’s someone’s mind, and you can use that to elicit.

You know various kind of hypotheses and understanding of the the way people are getting through somewhere that was put on the shelf during Covid. So I did a lot of remote research. That’s probably kind of my my more mainstay during that time, but I’m always open to learning a new one as well.

Paul Blunden: I find that fascinating. Never get to do enough of it, really. And do you find your customers asking you for it? Or is it something you also recommending?

Dan Sorvik: It depends on the type of customer as a contractor? I get lots of different types of work working with you. X. 26 4 7. It’s more Us. Research, which is my kind of Britain butter. But on the other kind of, I guess, on the side I’m. I am known as a research. Sorry not I. Tracking kind of geek we grew. I don’t know I’ve been doing it so long. So yeah, I’ve got a few sets of glasses, and I tend to partner with other people to provide that tool and kind of give them the insight, and then let them take that forward. But yeah, a lot of people do come to me for that that type of work, but it’s because I’ve been doing it so long.

Paul Blunden: Cool. Yeah, Well, it’s something I know you, for as well done actually, before we even met on this cool, and then the sort of sectors you work in, you know. Is it a lot of e-commerce finance? What what are the sectors that you worked across

Dan Sorvik: Well, in the in the time I was in London it was financial services mainly, but since moving out to Australia we did a lot of. I started with a lot of financial services and telecoms, but as I’ve been doing more and more eye tracking, i’m finding myself doing different, ho holy, different types of research, so shopper work or advertising or way finding. So i’m. I’m able to dabble into those new new areas of research and and try to build bridges in that way. but in terms of Ux, I I think here in Australia there’s not as big of a pool, so I do tend to find myself being a jack of all trades in terms of what types of sectors I work in, and someone who’s had. you know, nearly 2 decades of of experience. I I find myself pretty easy to drop into any particular type of work. you know, from from your main telecoms to I was doing something for electricity, sustainability, and and ratings. It was highly technical working with their kind of advisors, but that was something that I could really see my teeth into, and and try to learn. And it was a challenge. So no, no particular sectors at the moment.

Paul Blunden: Yeah, I always found with research the broader you are with sectors the better it is because there’s so many cross sort of cross fertilization of learning. It’s a really useful.

Dan Sorvik: absolutely, and doing something like a competitive review. Even then i’m like, let’s not just take our competitors. Let’s go to like examples that are global and different, and you know something that’s totally new like might not even be a competitor. But it’s a similar type of service, and I think that’s where you generate the most of insight. So so. Yeah, I think you’re totally right. The the broader experience you have, the more you can draw from.

Paul Blunden: Yeah, and that’s interesting. What you say. I mean at least nicely to my next question about sort of marketing maturity in Australia, because you told then about sort of even with competitive reviews. Maybe, looking further, a field. Can you talk a bit about sort of the maturity customer centrist to the Australian market?

Dan Sorvik: I find that with a lot of places customer. Centricity is is there? They They talk about it. It’s it’s up in posters, you know. Put customers first, but in practice I I don’t really see it. I I think it’s. I think it’s broadly lip service.

When you dig into the conversations and the actual business objectives, it tends to be about conversion or the bottom line. There are. There are some rare occasions where companies can break through this if they’ve got the right people at kind of senior level or the right people really championing it. And I think when that does happen, it comes through in the products you see it in the in the ratings, in the app store, or in just how people introduce the product. So I think, in terms of the major brands. I think it’s lip service. And and here in Australia. I think that’s that’s the case as as well as most places in the world.

Paul Blunden: right? And so i’m getting a sense from you there that it’s in an organization. It’s often about an individual driving it’s or a team driving it rather than a culture

Dan Sorvik: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. Whoever’s kind of leading the research or or leading the product. I’ve worked with some amazing product owners who who have the the true ability to balance business and and the the end. User I think they definitely exist. I just yeah, hopefully, we can push that bit more.

Paul Blunden: Yeah, it would be nice. There was more of them. But anyway, we have to start somewhere.

And then in terms of sort of the greatest challenge for brands like these and product directors when they’re thinking about doing research. What what do you think those sort of challenges are for them?

Dan Sorvik: I reckon it comes down to time. Just how much time they actually have when I speak to my stakeholders. And I say, here the interviews we’re going to do. Here is the times I really give them the challenge to listen to at least 2 interviews. I don’t think you can start to empathize with users unless you sit down for a full 2 sessions. So that’s something, I I think, is a challenge, especially if you’ve got a lot of stakeholders, and they’re distributed around the world getting that time to say, all right. Actually, I want to park everything else. And just listen to this hour session. That’s that’s a luxury that not a lot of people have.

But it’s something I I try to push because I think in in 2 h. That’s what’s going to start to build user empathy.

Paul Blunden: Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s funny. I was having exactly the conversation with the client yesterday about what was gonna happen with the videos after the sessions. Would anybody actually watch them? Yeah. And the the summary was No, nobody was gonna watch them. And really we were trying to get them into the sessions for exactly that reason. But it

Dan Sorvik: Yeah. yeah, I do try to flag like here are the best 2 sessions to watch back. and i’ll say, you know, responding 3 and responding 5. You’ve got to listen to those 2 they might be a bit different, but you know they were maybe articulate, or you know, highlighted certain things. I think that’s one way you can try to shortcut that. So that’s not a luck of the draw. You might have someone who’s just kind of really really represents the the broader sample that you’re you’re using. So maybe that’s a way to kind of encourage it to say we’re not going to send you all of them. But here’s these 2. You should really car out some time to watch those.

Paul Blunden: Yeah, it’s a good, a really good idea. I know a lot of people still ask for clips as well, or clip show reels, which I think are quite good, but I sometimes can lack context, but I think those one or 2 representative ones. It’s a really great idea.

Dan Sorvik: Yeah, it’s stuff.

Paul Blunden: So I’ve been asking everybody in these interviews about this sort of behaviors that are unique to the the market really interested in your view, even if they’re on any, not not least because, having been in the Us. The Uk. And Australia, you’ve got a really interesting perspective. So are there any sort of unique behaviors?

Dan Sorvik: Yeah. And again, maybe this is just my I I I can’t really speak from the the the masses. But what I’ve noticed is that Australia is usually a little bit slow on things like we’re usually a little bit far behind, but with digital transformation. That’s actually been a blessing in disguise. In the last kind of 5, 10 years

Australia has been able to really flip it around and take on digital services from the government and contactless payments. And all of these like really kind of useful technology, like technological tools. And I think part of it because we don’t have a legacy baseline that we’re building on. We kind of miss the boat there. So then, all of a sudden, we’re like.

Let’s start from scratch, and and I think there is a bit of excitement. I I’ve noticed just a few things, and contact with payments, I think, is a really good example of that, even though that’s not been around for a while. But I am seeing that when I go when I go back to the Us. Anyway, Sometimes things feel really antiquated, and i’m like, Wow! Australia actually pulled that out of the bag within a couple of years. So there there are some examples. Where we’re we’re very far behind, but sometimes that can be a a blessing.

Paul Blunden: and so do I take it there. The digital adoption there for sort of quite high in Australia, and so maturity around individuals, and they’re embracing of digital is quite high.

Dan Sorvik: I like to think so, but I may. I may live in a Sydney bubble again. I can’t speak for the greater Australia. But but yeah, generally speaking. we have seen pretty pretty good adoption and and things picking up really fast. And yeah, yeah, I I I think that that is a it is a it is a weird thing, and we just seem to be a little bit ahead of the curve there. 1 one thing is shipping, though, that’s definitely still very slow. So anytime you’re trying to send something I get so many Christmas cards in January, and like even late January. your shipping is just this very different, very different. So there is kind of an infrastructure issue that’s happening there.

Paul Blunden: Okay, for kind of everything cool. So find a couple of questions for you, Dan. What what inspires you? What’s inspiring you at the moment

Dan Sorvik: like, I think, the last. The last few months I’ve been doing a bit more travel, and not just because things are finally open again, but because I because I want to, because I want to see other places and other things, and that’s historically always been something I’ve loved to do, and I think as a as a Us researcher, you you have that ability to just absorb what’s around you, and and not really come to conclusions, but try to live and live in a space. So I think there’s like this anthropologist in me that’s that’s always going to be there, and in being able to be able to travel and get out there and see more. We’ve got a few trips coming up that that gives me an energy that gives me your way

Paul Blunden: fantastic. And and finally, what’s your biggest learning since you became a researcher?

Dan Sorvik: Learning as a researcher? It goes way back. It’s actually something I learned, probably in the first couple of months of working in London as a junior. and this came from Sarah Dottle actually, if anyone knows her, but it was just to enjoy the science to like. Take a moment and let the user to a B and and kind of come to a conclusion.

It’s it’s really hard to sometimes say, what are you thinking? What are you doing? Tell me everything, but you actually get more value in observing and and letting them come to a natural conclusion. and that’s definitely a style of mine, and and some of my stakeholders are like what’s going on. I I want more words, but it’s it’s really about experiencing it. you know, with your with your participants. So a little bit of quiet time and and lull in the conversation, are important, and and they’re they’re more representative of actual life and actual usage. So there’s a there’s a time where you can enjoy the silence.

Paul Blunden: That’s that’s a a wonderful learning, and I love working with Sarah Duddle. I know very well, and I can see why she she would be inspiring, and herself with great learning from her as well done. Thanks so much for for sparing the time to speak to me. It’s been fascinating hearing about your history and your work and life in Australia. and i’m sure the people watching the video going to be really interested here to.

So thanks, thanks very much. And for giving up your time

Dan Sorvik: absolutely. Yeah, feel free to hit me up on Linkedin or whatever. But, Paul, it’s great working with you and the team as well, and I look forward to to our next few projects.

Paul Blunden: Well, I hope you enjoyed finding out more about Australia from Dan. I found that fascinating, particularly his perspective. Having lived in the Us. Uk. And Australia, and the eye tracking work he does is fascinating and feel free to get in touch if you want to find out more about it.

I’m. Paul Paul London, founder of UX24/7. If you want to find out more about what we do visit our website., or find me on Linkedin, and of course subscribe to this channel, and there’ll be more videos coming along soon.

Thanks very much for watching.