Meltem Kaso is a mother, Senior UX Researcher @Glovo, podcaster @LetsLearnTurkish, Kundera admirer, non-alcoholic beer lover. Istanbulite & Barcelonés

FaceTime’s bad UX almost cost me a month’s rent.

The author holds her iPhone where the screen shows FaceTime app
The author holds her iPhone where the screen shows FaceTime app
You can get off track even after many years of using the same app if usability heuristics are weak

My partner and I have cross-checked the bill for specific dates of my so-called outgoing calls to Turkey and the list of recent calls registered on my phone. I had to acknowledge that I had indeed done "regular" calls to Turkey. …

Paradoxically, motherhood could be both a source of strength for doing better UX but also a reason for discrimination in our sector

Working Mothers Day GIF By Libby VanderPloeg

Yet, the experiences of UX professionals that are mothers — a minority within a minority — are not talked about.

With little to no sector-specific resources to help, and almost no examples in upper management to follow, we the women in the UX…

Most people still don't exactly know what we do. Let's turn that into an advantage.

"Think outside the box" is written on a box and placed on top of a black chair
"Think outside the box" is written on a box and placed on top of a black chair
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

It's been 28 years since Don Norman coined the term UX (User Experience). Still, the confusion about what it entails, and distinctions amongst its subspecialties remain: Some believe that UX is UI (User Interface), others think that UX competes with PM (Product Management), and quite a few companies still leave limited budget only for a single UX Designer who also does research.

And all the while, UX-related job titles grow.

In this context, having to explain our mission as UX Researchers and justifying the need to hire more UX Researchers can be tiring.

But on the bright side, the constant…

The reality is, it’s hard to distinguish a renowned ethnographer at work from a couch potato watching Netflix with friends.

"Netflix" reads on a digital TV in front of a person whose legs and feet are shown
"Netflix" reads on a digital TV in front of a person whose legs and feet are shown
Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

As famously reported, thick data has changed Netflix. Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist, was hired by the company to use ethnography as a way of understanding users. It worked; McCracken reported extensive contextual data that led to innovation. He discovered, among other things, that users liked "binge-watching" series. And, instead of feeling bad about it, they loved it! Acting on this insight, Netflix started to release whole seasons at once, instead of showcasing a chapter per week.

Now, as we all know, binge-watching is the new normal.

McCracken's work is well-praised within the community of UX professionals. But little do…

Don't just survive. Learn how to thrive

A pregnancy picture of the author along with her mom and partner
A pregnancy picture of the author along with her mom and partner
Posing with my mom and partner three days before the nationwide COVID lockdown in Spain

My son is almost 6 months old and he hasn't even met his maternal grandparents. God knows when we'll get to travel abroad because of COVID-19. And my maternity leave will soon be over before having gone out much.

Shi**y situation, huh?

It's saddening that so many people fall victim to COVID-19 to this day. Still, there are perks to becoming a mom during a pandemic. I cannot deny it.

So this goes to all new parents out there, or those that are preparing to become one. Your experience shouldn't be worse than that of parenting in "normal times".

It's time that we explore further the real difference between dashed light-gray lines and solid red lines.

A note on a shop's wall reads "I'm not google maps".
A note on a shop's wall reads "I'm not google maps".
Photo by Samantha Gollnick on Unsplash

In 2016, Google Maps made headlines for removing the Palestine label from its service. While the tech giant disagreed that it was ever drawn in the first place, they admitted “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip” were removed due to a bug. It was corrected afterwards.

This wasn't an isolated case. Google Maps was caught on fire publicly at least ten times due to disputed borders. A high profile example is from Crimea:

  • If it's viewed from Russia, it's marked within Russian territory.
  • If it's viewed from Ukraine, it's Ukrainian.
  • But if it's viewed from the US or another country, Crimea…

Do you like Spain?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

Last month, I became a naturalized Spanish citizen, and with it intensified my curiosity towards what makes someone or something uniquely Spanish.

While I continue to think that nationality — just as race and religion — are social constructs that constantly evolve, I detect that there are seemingly unchanging ways to think and feel Spanish.

More precisely, two phrases capture what it means to be from the land of Don Quijote:

No pasa nada

You hear this phrase a lot. It means "nothing happens", or "there is nothing amiss". …

Here's why it can surprisingly work better than you expect.

3D letters of Latin alphabet in pink are on a white background
3D letters of Latin alphabet in pink are on a white background
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Visual designers tend to be language-free when it comes to the tools they employ and their end products. Developers do use programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and C++, but they aren't asked to be "native speakers". Yet, unlike their designer and developer colleagues, UX Researchers are supposed to have a tight relationship with language:

At the core of UX Research lies understanding users' needs, wants, frustrations, emotions, and everything in between. To do solid research, UX Researchers need to be sophisticated communicators who use language effectively both when engaging with participants, sharing insights, and making recommendations.

This raises the following…

Based on my experience from having lived in eight countries in the last decade and visited over 40.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

After a honeymoon phase, the very things that you initially liked in a new country could become annoying or even overwhelming. While you transition from feeling like a tourist to being a local, you'll need to do many things (e.g. learn a new language, find a job, get a place to live). But above and beyond these practical concerns, you'll need to be asking smart questions and building your network.

Asking smart questions

Your titles can be both a gift and a burden.

A graduation ceremony
A graduation ceremony
Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

Back when I was doing my bachelor's at the University of Chicago, where the motto goes “the life of the mind”, I discovered two ugly secrets about earning a graduate degree. The first one is that approximately 50% of students drop out. The second one is that there’s a dangerously high unemployment rate amongst those who survive years of training.

It's not surprising that UX appeals to graduate students, especially in social sciences, as an alternative career path to teaching or writing papers. Especially, I'm referring to research-oriented roles within the field. To further encourage this trend, big tech companies…

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