You may turn your nose up at Honey Boo Boo, Justin Bieber, and all things Twilight, but a certain level of pop culture awareness is a necessary part of being an effective designer. Besides, “There’s a difference between knowing about something and loving it,” says Steve Portigal, author of Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights.
Cultivating your curiosity means exploring the world that your users inhabit, understanding the currents of meaning that swirl around them. It can help you identify their pain points, problems, and expectations. It creates empathy. And, it allows you to connect with your users in ways that move your research forward.
Of course we’re not saying that you should fake enthusiasm for things that you loathe. Your users can pick up on that from a mile away. Just stay open to understanding why your users love what they love.
Adapted from "Culture: You’re Soaking In It," a Virtual Seminar by Steven Portigal.