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User Research + Asking Better Questions with Michele Ronsen — DT101 E88

Michele Ronsen is the founder of Curiosity Tank, a leading user research consultancy and educational institution, helping individuals and organizations learn how to ask better questions, conduct research, and make better decisions around the world.

Portrait of Michele Ronsen

Listen to Learn About

  • The benefits of user research to designers
  • User research skills
  • Quantitative vs qualitative research
  • Curiosity Tank’s six-workshop series, Ask Like a Pro
  • Where user research is headed

Our Guest

Michele Ronsen is an executive with 20 years of experience in Fortune 500s, academia, and start-ups. A professionally trained graphic designer, Michele worked at top design firms before moving to Nordstrom where she built two creative teams from the ground up. From there, she built a career helping numerous entities strategically design and grow their businesses.

In 2010, Michele founded Ronsen Consulting, a design and strategy firm specialized in human-centered research and development. In 2020, she founded Curiosity Tank to further expand the team’s research consulting and education efforts. Recent clients include Slack, Zillow, Blue Shield of California, Xero, Facebook, Gusto, Invisalign, Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente.

Michele has inspired hundreds of students and professionals at UC Berkeley, the California College of the Arts, the Academy of Art University, and General Assembly teaching design, research and strategy classes and workshops.

Show Highlights

[00:33] Drawing the gear inside the McDonald’s sign and how Michele’s father taught her and her brother to ask how and why instead of what and when.
[02:14] Michele’s first career in graphic design and as a creative and design director.
[02:56] How conducting ethnographies helped Michele fall in love with user research.
[04:47] Michele talks about the user research skillset.
[07:02] Michele reminisces on her design process before she knew more about user research.
[09:18] Advice for organizations that want to do more qualitative research.
[10:37] The value of qualitative research.
[12:09] The Moccasins Project at the California College of the Arts.
[14:20] How Michele starts the process of working with clients.
[16:05] Curiosity Tank’s Ask Like a Pro workshop series helps people level-up their user research skills.
[20:18] Ensuring user research makes it into the product or service starts in the planning phase.
[22:05] Getting stakeholder buy-in right from the beginning.
[23:24] The problem space and the opportunity space.
[26:19] User research trends and the future of user research.
[26:49] The surprising way the pandemic changed the trajectory of user research.
[29:48] Thoughts and advice for those wanting to learn more about user research.
[29:58] Open versus closed questions.
[31:48] Having a curious mindset is key to becoming a great researcher.


Michele on LinkedIn
Michele on General Assembly
Ronsen Consulting LLC
Curiosity Tank
Wild Business Growth Podcast: Curiosity Tank, How to Ask Better Questions
Happy Market Research podcast: How the key to Asking Better Questions is Tied to Developing Better Listening Skills and What you can do About it
Breaking into User Research
How to start a UX research project
Breaking into UX Research

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