Usability studies are sometimes devalued as mechanical work, as opposed to ethnography and other kinds of research considered to be a more strategic and engaging. This contributes to a perception of usability evaluation as lower status, or appropriate for early career researchers—work that one eventually moves on from as they progress through their career.
This panel re-framed this distinction and reflect on the value of usability methods in an era where research teams are shrinking and businesses are implicitly devaluing research. Research leaders addressed the friction between usability assessment and broader, macro research, and shifted our thinking about tactical versus strategic work.
Leisa Reichelt leads the Research and Service Experience team at Atlassian, a company which is already focused on developing and unleashing the potential of all its teams. Having worked in both the UK and Australia, Leisa has spent time building research capabilities within government digital teams, helping them to create easier and more accessible public services. She has consulted with a mix of London tech startups and household name brands such as The Economist, BBC, Virgin Atlantic and many more. Although she loves research, Leisa’s passion is in enabling organisations to transform themselves through gaining a compelling and closer understanding of the user needs they serve.
Judd Antin is an independent consultant and advisor focused on strategic design & insights, scaling effective organizations, and crisis management. Judd spent almost 15 years in UX Research, Design, and Product leadership roles at Yahoo!, Meta, and Airbnb, mostly recently as Head of Design Studio at Airbnb. Judd holds a Masters in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland College Park and a PhD from UC Berkeley in Social Psychology & Information Systems. In addition to consulting and advising, he teaches classes on management & leadership as well as social psychology & information technology at UC Berkeley.
Matthew Bernius uses qualitative social sciences and design theory and methods to collaboratively create more equitable government systems and experiences. His work at Code for America focuses on improving access to and delivery of social safety net services. Matt is also a frequent contributor and mentor in the EPIC community; most recently he was co-chair of the EPIC2024 Graduate Colloquium.
Lisa Whittle is a senior user researcher at Atlassian, based in Melbourne. She has a background in psychology with undergraduate training from Northeastern University. She leads a program aimed at scaling the adoption of usability testing practices across Atlassian.
Joyce Lee is a senior researcher at Atlassian, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a background in visual studies and information management, with undergraduate training from the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree from University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include observation, communication, and play, both in and outside of work.