Class summaries: User research

6 Feb

Classes 5-7 were about the first step of the UCD process,  research. You learned:

  • to discuss with clients in order to understand their problem and set appropriate goals for the work you will do
  • to look at existing solutions and analyze the competition before getting started
  • what are appropriate goals for formative user research, given that users are not designers
  • some basic methods for conducting user research: contextual inquiry, interviewing, and focus groups
  • how to plan your user research by identifying user groups, figuring out where to find them, and what data collection methods to use, depending on the problem and the situation

Once concept that emerged as potentially confusing is that of STAKEHOLDER. Let me clarify.

Stakeholders are the parties who have something at stake in the product. They can influence it or are influenced by it. Let’s look at the example of theCN. For theCN, users are students and faculty. However, there are many other stakeholders at the university who might not actually be direct users. The most obvious one is IT@P. They have to pay for it, provide customer service, and integrate it with the existing registrar’s system so we can import course rosters into theCN.

Here is another example:

Take this course, CGT 256. It is the product of design. The users are students, faculty, and TA. But the stakeholders are the entire CGT department, as well as any and all sources of funding for undergraduate education: the providers of student fees, the local government and through them, tax payers, the university committees that oversee undergraduate courses, the CGT undergraduate curriculum committee, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, the university Dean of Students, as well as competitor departments at other nearby universities. I should not forget alumni. They are also stakeholders. If the course gains a great reputation, they can brag about taking it.

I hope this helps clarify the notion of STAKEHOLDER. Please let me know what other questions you have about formative user research.

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