Artwork by Nicholas Darinzo

There’s an have been some advancements in medical XR applications and psychedelic medicines.

Two organizations in particular are the Multidisciplinary Institution for Psychadelic Studies (MAPS), which is a non-profit that is exploring the potential therapeutic uses for psychedelics. Another is Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) which is a research and direct exposure lab specializing in the intersection of science and profound human experience such as virtual reality therapy. Central to the ION’s research has been investigation into the phenomenon of transformations in consciousness — significant changes in the way that people perceive and shape their reality. (source)


Another advancement…

Facing ambiguity and building clarity with clients

One of the things we at Grand Studio love the most is a good problem to solve. The most interesting problems for us are the elusive ambiguous and complex problems that are packed with the most uncertainty. Indeed, the more challenging the problem, the more rewarding it becomes to solve it.

Keeping our clients confident as we move through the rough and tumble of the uncertain problem space and delicately into the solution space, in a way that brings delight, is a part of what makes our jobs interesting as consultants.

Uncertainty can creep into a project at any time…

Thoughts from Grand Studio on staying human in quarantine

2020 has been challenging so far. People around the world have had their lives turned upside down as restrictions have been placed for human-to-human contact due to Covid-19. Here at Grand Studio, we have been able to experience first-hand some of the struggles that have come with trying to maintain a human touch with challenging constraints.

Since Grand Studio’s office is located in Chicago, one of the cities in the United States most impacted by the pandemic, it poses an interesting case for how a growing agency has learned to cope with big changes.

Lessons on designing for progress.

At the beginning of 2020, I moved to Columbus, Ohio. Like many of those new to a city, I attended social events so that I could start meeting people with similar interests. I eventually found myself sitting across the table with a UX researcher from a local insurance company at a UX-related event. She told me about how her company replaced Personas with Jobs to be Done (JTBD)- a concept that suggests that consumers “hire” products to do work for them. (source)

I originally thought JTBD was a new framework. What I found is that the fundamentals of JTBD have…

In late 2019, I joined a team of designers as a content strategist to create a website for an international bank’s blockchain platform. Though I had worked on similar projects, this project was intimidating because it involved a lot of marketing and branding work that I was less familiar with than my usual UX responsibilities. I was happy to learn that I’d be working alongside two experienced designers throughout the project, but also felt a little uneasy because 80% of the job would be remote- which was a big change from working out of a studio.

The project was fast-paced…

Quick and dirty versus slow and rigorous usability research.

This article aims to explore the definition, difference and purpose of formative and summative usability research, how and when they fit into the product design cycle, and how to conduct them.

First, formative and summative evaluations are both a form of evaluative usability research. They are each conducted to understand how a product performs compared to benchmarks in the products history. Unlike summative, formative is also considered to be an exploratory research method, whereby it is used to gain insight into the subject the product deals with and helps in problem identification and solving. …

An introduction to VR for Ethnography.


This article aims to provide an overview about why and how virtual reality technology can be adapted into any product design team’s research process. The major advantage to using a VR headset over a traditional camera is that it allows the researcher to take the perspective of a fly-on-the-wall, teleporting them back in time to a research site and allowing them to observe phenomena in greater detail, and in places a traditional video camera might have missed.

In a nutshell, a VR kit for user research really only requires a few things including a 360-degree camera, a VR headset, a…

Building the empathic bond through narrative

Empathy is a big word these days, especially in the world of design. A lot of times though people use the word empathy without giving the empathic bond the time or patience it deserves, causing it’s meaning and purpose to become convoluted.

Empathy is not a hard thing to understand.

At some point in or lives we have all tried to communicate what we were feeling. We screamed at our parents so they knew we were upset, causing them to feel upset, like us, in the process. We shared contagious belly laughs at a well-timed joke or an all-to relevant meme. We’ve let the raw emotion of a…

Design for Good or Evil

The User Experience of Virtual Reality (Part 2)


“Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.”
— John Perry Barlow, Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Cyberspace is very much a new wild west, at least that’s how John Perry Barlow and Barack Obama describe it, and they are not the first to do so. Cyberspace was visualized in it’s earliest days by William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive all three of which helped manifest…

A quick-hit on recruiting for user research


Don Norman once said that if there is any principle that is sacred to those in the field of user-interface design and human computer interaction, it is ‘know your user.’ This sort of mantra for what is commonly known as User Experience (UX) Design has guided the field for decades. UX methods are mostly all centered around aligning the needs of the user with the capabilities or features of a product. Where defining the business requirements and constraints come from the business side, defining the user requirements and constraints comes from the UX side. …

Nick Dauchot

UX Design consultant specialized in User Research, Interaction Design, and Behavioral Psychology.

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