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Language + Design Research + Researcher Self-Care with Abby Bajuniemi — DT101 E96

Dr. Abby Bajuniemi holds a PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Minnesota and is currently a user researcher in industry. We talk about language, design research and researcher self-care.

Portrait of Abby Bajuniemi

Listen to Learn About

  • How language and linguistics affect design
  • The interaction of society and language
  • Trauma-informed user research
  • Researcher self-care
  • The importance of asking for help
  • Language and technology
  • Being mindful about the language used in design

Our Guest

Abby is the manager of UX Research and Content at Calendly. She holds a PhD in Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics with specialization in Second Language Acquisition and Sociolinguistics. She loves to nerd out with people about language and research methods, either together or separately. She loves the Oxford comma, but will never correct your grammar.

Show Highlights

[00:57] How and why Abby moved from linguistics to user research.
[02:06] The importance of taking the time to think about language as a designer.
[03:30] Audience design.
[04:15] Aspects of linguistics that are helpful for designers and researchers.
[04:45] Being mindful of the language choices you’re making.
[05”07] Abby talks about the tone of language/voice.
[06:14] Abby’s “superpower.”
[07:00] How people understand and use language.
[10:03] Abby talks about what happens when stakeholders don’t follow the user research recommendations.
[11:22] You have to be a good storyteller for your stakeholders.
[12:16] Ways Abby has seen her work come to fruition.
[15:14] User research can be revelatory for organizations that have never used it before.
[17:06] Trauma-informed research and researcher self-care.
[18:03] User research can be intense and emotional.
[20:05] Dawan and Abby talk about the importance of asking for help.
[22:35] Asking for help is part of what collaboration is.
[24:15] Asking for help is working smarter.
[25:27] Abby talks about the book she’s writing.
[25:56] Cognitive language models.
[26:42] Voice-activated assistants.
[28:07] Language and chatbot design.
[29:34] Thinking about the future of language design.
[33:01] Books and resources for researchers and those wanting to learn more about language.
[36:52] The way language can play into stigma.
[39:39] Abby talks about an example of purposeful language design done at the 18F agency.


Abby on LinkedIn
Abby on Medium
Abby’s website
Abby on Women Talk Design
On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?, by Emily Bender, Timnit Gebru, Angelina McMillan-Major

Book Recommendations

Universal Methods of Design, Expanded and Revised: 125 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions, by Bruce Hanington and Bella Martin
Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics, by Bill Albert and Tom Tullis
Thinking Through Methods: A Social Science Primer, by John Levi Martin
The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection, by Anne Berry, Kareem Collie, Penina Acayo Laker, Lesley-Ann Noel, Jennifer Rittner, and Kelly Waters
Your Computer Is on Fire, by Thomas Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, Mar Hicks, and Kavita Philip
Mixed Methods: A short guide to applied mixed methods research, by Sam Ladner
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, by Safiya Umoja Noble
You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton!: Monster Motivations to Move Your Butt and Get You to Do the Thing, by Chuck Wendig and Natalie Metzger
Language And Power, by Norman Fairclough
Discourse and Social Change, by Norman Fairclough

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

User Research + Asking Better Questions with Michele Ronsen — DT101 E88
Teaching Yourself Design Thinking + Innovating in Government with Amy J. Wilson — DT101 E19
Design Thinking + Learning Science with Adam Royalty — DT101 E18

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