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Meet the Trulian: Vito Loconte

A Series to Connect You to the Trulians Behind the Magic

This “Meet the Trulian” features Vito Loconte, one of Trulia’s user experience researchers. Vito manages the research that helps guide Trulia’s product design decisions, ensuring everything Trulia builds makes sense to its users. Read on to learn a bit more about Vito and his role.

What’s your role at Trulia?

I am a User Experience (UX) Researcher on the Trulia design team, which means I talk to a lot of consumers who use Trulia to ensure we understand them and they understand our designs. I connect with users daily through interviews, site visits, usability tests, and surveys, and my overarching goal is to help Trulia better understand the people who use our products in order to design and build products that are useful, fit users’ needs, and work the way users expect them to work.

What inspired you to get into your role?

I first became interested in research while studying psychology at Northern Illinois University. I worked as a research assistant in the cognitive psychology lab and conducted experiments on reading comprehension and strategy. While that type of research seemed interesting, I wanted to move into a field that was more applied, so I decided to go to grad school to study Human Factors, with a focus on Human Computer Interaction; that’s where I found the perfect mix of rigorous and applied research that I was looking for. I still get to design proper experiments here at Trulia, plus now I also get to do some really fun, scrappy research using things like Mechanical Turk and site intercepts.

What was your dream job growing up and why?

I always wanted to be a professional hockey player. I grew up outside of Chicago and started playing hockey when I was five years old. I played goalie (following in my father’s footsteps) all the way through high school and just recently started playing again. It’s fun and it feels great to be back on the ice!

If you could have drinks with one tech luminary – dead or alive – whom would it be and why? And, what would your first question be?

While he’s not a tech luminary, the person I would honestly most like to have a drink with is Ira Glass. As a researcher, a big part of my job is turning data into compelling stories and Ira Glass is one of my favorite story tellers. My first question would be… actually, not sure yet, but hopefully something good enough to get a great story out of him!

What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?

I’ve been really into turning my house into a smart home lately, so I’d say it’s a combination of my home gadgets. I just installed Philips Hue lights and love that I can control them with any device – it actually makes life easier! I also have a Sonos Wi-Fi sound system and a bunch of IFTTT recipes set up for the lights and other things around the house, and I’d hate to have to give any of that up.

What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?

I always make an effort to see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible before the Academy Awards. “The Martian” was one of the best picture nominees that I wasn’t able to see before the awards this year, but I recently watched it. I was actually a little disappointed in the ending because it seemed far-fetched. And why does the solution to every problem in space movies have to include a “slingshot” around a planet?!

What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?

Moving to California, getting through grad school, and starting my career in UX Research. It was a big decision to be the first in my family to move away from home. After finishing grad school and wrapping up my first internship, I knew it was the right decision and I knew this was a career that would make me happy. And, after almost nine years in California I still feel that way.

If you could master one talent or skill that you don’t have now what would it be and why?

I’m constantly working on improving my storytelling and data visualization skills. Like I mentioned, I gather a lot of information from users, but if I don’t figure out a way to tell a story with the data, I just have a big mess of facts and findings that might end up only making sense to me.

 If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

Teleportation. My most likely use case: hitting the snooze button a few more times and still getting into the office at a decent hour. Now, that would be helpful!