Superior designs are built with empathy and an intuitive understanding of the context a product exists within. As a UX researcher, I keep these two things at the top of my mind. The questions I ask and the research methods I choose are based on what I believe will be the most empathetic (therefore yielding the best data) within the scope and constraints of the project (time, resources, access to user population, etc.). Take a look at how I implemented this framework with my contribution to Raheem AI.


What is raheem?

Raheem is a chatbot that listens to your experiences with law enforcement. Individuals tell Raheem about their experiences, and Raheem tells the aggregate of everyone’s experiences via an interactive data visualization. You can interact with Raheem here.

My role

I spearheaded the company’s first round of qualitative user research in 2016, before the team knew what form the platform would take. Given that, at the time, there was no existing product to ask users about, the majority of my research was geared toward understanding users’ experience with law enforcement, such that we could derive user needs from it (and subsequently a product with relevant design features).

Determining Research methods

After our team conducted a literature review, I made the research method decision based on the following conclusions:

  • police violence disproportionately effects people of color, low-in come communities, and gender-nonconforming people.

  • across racial and economic lines, the majority of people use smart phones

I decided that long-form individual interviews would be the most empathetic method, would produce the best data, and would provide the most comfortable environment for interviewees to speak on their experiences. 


Process Synopsis

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Interview Script

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  • Most participants did not express interested in police reform. They expressed interest in safety or in not encountering police. 

  • 6 out of 8 participants experienced police violence or misconduct without the intention of interacting with police (e.g. getting pulled over or stopped by police)

  • 2 out of 8 participants experienced police violence or misconduct in circumstances where they knew police would be present (i.e. activists at a protest or when police were contacted for assistance)

  • When answering Question 11, many participants expressed that they didn't know what would make them feel safer. However, 8 out of 8 participants expressed desire to have had someone watching the misconduct take place.

  • 7 out of 8 participants did not file a police complaint after the incident