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Making the Invisible Visible: The Problem with doing Good Work – Martha Cotton

Date: June 6, 2007
Speaker: 
Martha Cotton — Herbst LaZar Bell Inc.

There frequently is a frustrating phenomenon of one particular aspect of the kind of work user researchers do: When you do your job well, what you have illuminated about a user experience becomes so instantly accepted by either the client or design team (or both), that all the rigor and effort that went into getting there becomes invisible.

Additionally, user experience professionals are frequently called to measure their value via traditional business metrics, and while this can be done on occasion, frequently the best ways to describe our impact is through compelling stories, that in some business situations can be seen to matter less than what a spreadsheet says.

This talk will examine these phenomena and offer ways to reclaim some visibility, and give voice to our value, especially in ways that promote the value of our work in business contexts.

About the Speaker
Martha Cotton is the Vice President of Research for HLB, where she provides leadership in planning and implementing all aspects of the company’s various research programs. This includes ethnographic and observational research, focus groups, user interface development, and data collection and analysis. Martha is also one of three members of the Seed Group, HLB?s design strategy and innovation team.

Prior to HLB, Martha most previously worked for Hall & Partners as Research Director and lead of their ethnography practice. While there, she worked with her clients developing brand, channel, and positioning strategies, as well as understanding consumer experience as it informs brand and communications. Before that, Martha worked for Sapient Corporation as Director of User Research, serving as principal for all user research programs and providing leadership, vision, and delivery oversight for clients such as Nokia and Marriott.

In addition to her research work, Martha wrote and published a cookbook entitled, “Dinner Dates: A Cookbook for Couples Cooking Together.” She promoted the book in selected U.S. cities via television, radio, and print media as well as personal appearances. She is also a classically trained singer, and spent ten years working as a professional singer and actress in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

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