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User research

User Research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. (source: Wikipedia)

Make enterprise software people actually love

The call for excellent UX within the enterprise ecosystem is growing and growing.

“There is a big, important change happening in digital product design. For a long time, there has been a clear split between business software (often called Enterprise or B2B), and consumer software (B2C, or simply ‘products’). That split is increasingly irrelevant.”

(John Kolko a.k.a. @jkolko ~ Harvard Business Review)

The experience makes the product, not the features

Some interesting advice. Especially for tech and info startups.

“If anything detracts from the product’s core experience, stop making changes and release your product. You’ll get more insight by doing less and seeing how people engage with the product as it is, what behavior they exhibit, and reviewing this against your assumptions. This insight will always pay the greatest dividends as you strive for product market fit.”

(Lee Dale a.k.a. @smack416 ~ UX Magazine)

How to gather quantitative data on user behaviors and mental models

Design something and see how someone uses it. Revealing.

“As user researchers and UX designers, you have an almost endless number of techniques and tools to choose from when you embark on a design or redesign project. For us, closed card sorting and first-click testing provided the best balance of data, cost, and speed. We knew that these techniques would provide us with quick data to support our qualitative research, and results that would be easy to analyze and draw design recommendations from.”

(Jerry Cao a.k.a. @jerrycao_uxpin ~ The Next Web)

Time with users: Set personal and company goals

The older you get, the more you see from the iceberg.

“To develop user experience insights and skills, define how many hours you should spend observing actual user behavior each year. Junior staff need more hours; senior people can get by with fewer annual user-exposure hours.”

(Jakob Nielsen ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

An introduction to user research techniques: Ways to understand your users and their needs

Research is the foundation for design to make informed decisions.

“This guidance provides a broad overview of the methods and techniques available to conduct user research. More detailed guidance on each of these techniques can be found in the links below. User research can be categorised into 2 broad themes: product research and strategic research.”

(Gov.uk)

Measuring digital skills: From digital skills to tangible outcomes (project report)

Digital design for humans is taking their skills, competences, and capabilities into consideration, a lot.

“As the Internet becomes an increasingly embedded part of everyday life for many people, research on digital inclusion has been criticized. There are concerns about the lack of strong theoretical developments within the field and the limitations of the survey measures typically used in this research domain. In this project, we have aimed to address these criticisms through developing theoretically informed survey measures of people’s digital skills, engagement with the Internet, and the tangible outcomes this Internet use has in their lives.”

(Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen, Ellen J. Helsper and Rebecca Eynon ~ Oxford Internet Institute)

Usability moves beyond the screen

Cross-channel experience design, physical touchpoints included.

“Web designers have long been aware of the need to make things easy for Internet users. Now usability is increasingly an issue for other technology areas.”

(Jason Deign ~ The Network)

Defining patient experience

Journal as a format. Online, public and to share.

“As patient experience continues to emerge as an area of research and practice in healthcare, the need for standard consistent definition becomes even more critical. Without a common foundation or at least a cornerstone on which to build or adapt, the efforts that follow are set on shaky ground. We offer these ideas not in the promotion of one idea over another, but in recognizing that in existing work and in the shared themes we uncovered there is a strong set of related concepts from which to grow. This will be critical to ensure patient experience remains a viable, respected, and highly embraced part of the healthcare conversation, as we believe it should.”

(Jason A. Wolf et al ~ Patient Experience Journal Volume 1Issue 1)

Designing digital strategies: Cartography

Designing mission, vision, and strategy. Making decisions with intent is the essence of design.

“As digital products and services come to comprise an increasingly important part of our everyday life, the division between the digital and the physical begins to blur. We can, for instance, see a washing machine on TV, read reviews of it online, purchase it on our phone, and have it installed by our local shop-all without leaving our computer. The sum total of these processes functions as a single, continuous experience. Designers can more prudently frame the experiences they create by incorporating ecosystem thinking into their process.”

(Sofia Hussain ~ UX Booth)

Mindful Design: What the UX world can learn from yoga

Mens sana in corpore sano a.k.a. Νοῦς ὑγιὴς ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ.

“Similarly with design, be clear about what your intentions are with your offering, whether a product or service. Internalize your mission and values, and let design be the expression of your intent. When your intentions are clear, so too are the fruits of your labor.”

(Irene Au a.k.a. @ireneau ~ The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association)

Fine-tuning user research to drive innovation

An important area of research, but still under-valued, under-developed, and under-practiced.

“User research that attempts to discover market-changing innovations faces many challenges. The more ambitious the innovation goal, the more difficult it can be to decide whom to study, what to look for, and how to make sense of the findings. Our reflections here are based on our experience collaborating on an ambitious project, in which we conducted in-depth contextual research with 54 people in eight enterprises. Its mission was to generate concepts for innovative solutions that would engage a large, new audience whose needs were not being addressed by existing products. In many respects, this was a dream project for researchers who wanted to introduce user-centered design into the product development process as early as possible.”

(David Siegel, Alex Sorin, Michael Thompson, and Susan Dray ~ Interactions Magazine sept/oct 2013)

How we do user research in Agile teams

Citizen research and how to meet citizen needs.

“Getting user research into Agile teams in a way that is timely, relevant and actionable is a challenge that teams the world over are tackling. Working effectively in agile has recently been the driver of some fairly significant changes to the way our researchers work at GDS.”

(Leisa Reichelt a.k.a. @leisa ~ GDS)

Seeing the elephant: Defragmenting user research

Quantifying the qualifiers and breaking the research silos.

“I encountered a series of robust, expensive, well-staffed teams of researchers – many with doctorates – employing just about every imaginable method to study the user experience.”

(Louis Rosenfeld ~ A List Apart)

User-centred design research for international users

i18n for UX design.

“It is helpful to consider the principles of user-centred design when building any website, but it is of particular importance when creating a site that is intended to appeal to a global audience. At a high level the process is simple: understand your users’ needs, try to build those requirements into your digital solution, the test your design throughout to validate your assumptions or revise accordingly, and only release the product when you are certain you have met as many of these as possible. This should ensure that most potential usability issues have been removed, and that the user has a memorable, persuasive, and compelling experience of the brand and the useful services it offers.”

(Chris Rourke a.k.a. @crourke ~ .net magazine)

5 reasons why kids need special user research

Identified a new type of experience: KX (‘Kids Experience’).

“Kids are special. There is no doubt about that. But it does not explain why they also need special attention when it comes to user research. Here are 5 reasons why we need to start doing user testing with kids and why it’s very different than what we know from testing adults.”

(Sabina Idler a.k.a. @SabinaIdler ~ UXkids)

Keynote: Health behavior change and beyond: The health benefits of success experiences

Great and important topic, the patient experience.

“While sustained behavior and lifestyle changes can lead to improved health outcomes, there may be another pathway to health. Namely, the increased sense of confidence and control that comes from being successful at changing ANY behavior, even if the change is not sustained, can also improve health outcomes. Learn how to avoid the tyranny of prescribed failure experiences. Learn how to prescribe success by aligning with passions, discovering patient-generated solutions, and celebrating success.”

(David Sobel ~ Healthcare Experience Design 2013, the presentation videos)

The Design for Usability book

A Dutch delight.

“The Design for Usability project published a book that provides the product development community with a comprehensive and coherent overview of the results of the project, in such a way that they can be applied in practice. The book outlines the studies conducted in the project, and indicates how the individual research projects are related and which of them can be applied in a coherent mode.”

(Edited by @jaspervankuijk ~ Design for Usability)

Ditch Traditional Wireframes

Some still think they have value.

“Wireframes have played an increasingly leading role in the modern Web development process. They provide a simple way of validating user interface and layout and are cheaper and faster to produce than a final visual comp. However, most of the methods and techniques used to create them are far from being efficient, contradicting the principles and values that made wireframing useful in first place. While this article is not about getting rid of the wireframing process itself, now is a good time for questioning and improving some of the materials and deliverables that have become de facto standards in the UX field. To make this point clear, let’s do a quick review of the types of wireframes commonly used.”

(Sergio Nouvel a.k.a. @shesho ~ UX magazine)

Capturing User Research

Anything you can capture from other people helps.

“It’s interesting to think of what the future might bring in information-capture technology for user research. In my dreams, an ideal tool would be on a tablet, reducing the massive amount of paper that I currently waste when capturing handwritten notes. It would allow me to view a discussion guide and add handwritten notes using a stylus. My notes would be synced with either an audio recording or a wireless video recording, which would make it easy to jump to any point in a recording that corresponds to particular notes. The application would then take my handwritten notes and automatically convert them to text that I could manipulate in a word processor. Do you know of any tools that would let me achieve this? If not, I can dream. In the meantime, I’ll be taking plenty of handwritten notes on paper and backing them up with audio or video recordings.”

(Jim Ross a.k.a. @anotheruxguy ~ UXmatters)