Community Profile - David Bauer, Driven by Research

Our community at IxDA Seattle is made up of diverse interaction designers, researchers, content strategists, information architects, and more.

We like to highlight people who give back to the IxDA community in order to share their background and personal stories.

David Bauer, Partner at Hemispheres Insights

David Bauer

Partner at Hemispheres Insights

We’re featuring David Bauer, who spoke to IxDA Seattle in March on VR, and how it can be mobilized for user research.  David’s talk has some great crossovers with our upcoming panel on design and augmented reality.  

We were able to sit down with David to ask him questions about his personal journey and process.

Hi David! Tell us about you and Hemispheres Insights.

I started Hemispheres 15 years ago. The whole idea was to combine left brain and right brain thinking in one customer insights agency. In my opinion, most marketers and researchers I know think about decisions rationally AND emotionally. As researchers, we need to consider both of those sides in understanding how people make decisions.

How does Hemispheres Insights operate?

My business partner, Lynn Reed, and I have an excellent team. We work as an agency of customer insights professionals who help companies understand the decisions their customers make.

Our tagline is “research for humans.” At our core, we are looking to understand who people are. That includes our clients.

 Hemispheres Insights team workshopping together.

Hemispheres Insights team workshopping together.

How has your process evolved to understand and serve your clients better?

Researchers today are faced with different challenges than a few years ago. There is such an array of what people want now in terms of research artifacts. In the old days, you would print transparencies. Transparencies! I printed those at Kinko's, and that’s what we presented to clients. Now, we give everything from a 3 slide presentation for the busy executive, to a detailed set of data for analysts. At the beginning of a project cycle, we figure out who’s involved, what their roles are, what the need is for insights, and how the team will use the insights. We then tailor our deliverables accordingly.

How have you connected to the IxDA community recently?

I just spoke on VR in user research in March!

Curious about using VR to explore immersive storytelling, prototyping experiences, and co-designing with users? Check out our post from David’s talk with IxDA Seattle.

How did you get your start in understanding customers through research?

In college, I majored in creative writing and marketing. I interned at a PR firm, but it wasn’t until I joined a brand consulting firm called Tattoo that I got exposed to user research. I still clearly remember my first focus group with Harley Davidson. We did drawing exercises with different stakeholders to help them think about a new product for Harley Davidson from different perspectives. This was my AHA moment. I loved this, being strategic, but also creative and using psychology. After I moved to Seattle in the late ‘90’s I worked in strategy and research as part of the Evans group, which was ultimately purchased by Publicis.

What advice do you have for our community on conducting research for the future?

Researchers need to move faster than ever, for better or worse, in terms of their reporting. More nimble and efficient research approaches are critical. That’s why we created an in-house software that can “harvest” reviews customers leave about your company by scraping websites as one way to quickly add value.

VR, as I discussed in my talk with IxDA Seattle, can potentially also be one of those nimble tactics. Instead of building a whole store, you can prototype an experience with VR. When reviewing a recording of a VR experience, it can be possible to quickly view users’ visceral reactions. This can allow for more customer empathy from every team member, from engineering to sales to design. In our work, we are always trying to tell an authentic story about users lived experiences, and VR provides another possible medium to do so.

Thanks David! We are so happy to have you as part of the IxDA community.

Connect with David May 9th at the AMA MarketMix Conference conference, where he’s hosting a panel on UX in VR.

We’re sold out at our next event, "Augmented Thinking: Designing for the Future, but you can join the waitlist and follow the action on the Seattle IxDA Twitter. 

Have a story you want to share with the IxDA Seattle community?Email alexandertran@gmail.com. Thanks!

Alexander Tran