Tag Archives: Lecture Summary

Spring ’15 Class notes: Day 10 – Conceptual design intro

16 Feb

In this class, we moved into the creative part of conceptual design. The objectives were:

At the end of class, students will be able to:

  1. Use scenarios to extract design requirements from user data.
  2. Conduct brainstorming session according to the rules for effective brainstorming.
  3. Use thumbnail sketches as a way to generate ideas.
  4. Reflect on the creative aspects of the conceptual design process.

You took the personas developed in the previous class and created scenarios and design requirements for an app that would help students maintain motivation to learn. You then practiced effective (I hope!) brainstorming and used thumbnail sketches to generate very many ideas. Remember that at this stage, quantity of ideas is more important than quality.

You then sorted through the ideas you generated to come up with 1-2 concepts for the new product that everyone on your team could agree would be worth pursuing further.

Please also remember how sketching is used this early in the UX process as a way to generate ideas.


Spring’15 Class notes: Day 9 – Affinity Diagramming

16 Feb

This class filled the gap between conducting user research and writing personas and scenarios. Once you do your contextual inquiry, interviews, focus groups, etc., what do you do to analyze all that data and come up with personas? One way of working with qualitative data is affinity diagramming.

Affinity diagramming is popular in UX because it is a team activity. It can get buy-in and build empathy for users, because several team members get to handle users’ ideas and quotes from what they said. It is often common to invite members of the technical team to help, so they can get close to users, too.

affinity diagram with post it notesWe spent class time working with some data from your personal profiles and creating affinity diagrams, and persona(s) based on them.

Spring ’15 Class notes: Day 8 – Intro to personas, scenarios and design requirements

16 Feb

In this class, we reported the findings from the contextual inquiry exercise you did the class before. Then, we used that information for you to work individually to create a persona, a scenario, and design requirements. The feedback for that assignment is summarized in this blog post.

The most important things you need to remember from this class are the definitions and distinctions between personas, scenarios, and design requirements.

Personas are based on the data from your user research. They are composites, but they are not fictional. They are not a product of your imagination…


Scenarios take the persona and imagine how the new magical product you will design solves their problems. Scenarios are a combination of research (manifested in the persona) and your imagination. They happen in the future, and show what a day in the persona’s life will be like when they have full use of your new magical product. In the scenario, you see what the persona does with the new magical product, and how the persona uses it. Based on this, you extract a list of…

Design requirements – these are specifications for what the product should be able to do, along with any platform and technical requirements.

Spring’15 class notes: Day 7: Personas, scenarios and design requirements

6 Feb

Important points from class:

Deciding when to use what research method:

Interviews are more appropriate for one on one research when you want to understand one person’s view on things, contextual inquiry is better for trying to understand how a person works so that you can innovate a certain part of their day to day activities, focus groups are best when brainstorming for certain ideas. – student J.C. (emphasis mine)

What are personas, scenarios, and design requirements and what are they used for? persona icon
  • Personas – research reports that help us remember and empathize with the users we researched. Not fictional or made up; based on research.
  • Scenarios – creative stories that involve what the persona would do if they had our new magic productScenarios bridge research and creativity. They help us move towards envisioning what the product would be able to do, and extracting lists of:
  • Design requirements – specifications for what functionality the product should have, what platform(s) it should work on, etc.

See also Joshua’s recommendation for a post about personas.

Spring’15 class notes: Day 7 – User research part 2: methods for collecting data

4 Feb

This class topic was methods for collecting data for your user research:

  • contextual inquiry
  • focus groups
  • interviews

These are not ALL the methods, just some of the more popular ones. They are all qualitative in nature, meaning you collect in-depth, open-ended information rather than numbers. Quantitative methods can be used, too, although they do not provide the type of in-depth understanding and empathy that’s needed in UX. Some quantitative methods are surveys, and analyzing patterns of current usage from server logs.

In class today, you met Aaron – here he is on Twitter.

twitter logo

Check out the Twitter lists he’s been put on – there are lists there of more than 4,000 UX designers. So, there are plenty of people out there you can find and follow. If you want to get started on Twitter, see some of my older posts with advice on how to enter Twitter culture.

In terms of who I recommend following, see my list of UX people. The blogs and magazines I follow on a regular basis are:

  • UX mag
  • UX booth
  • UX movement
  • Measuring Usability
  • Six Revisions
  • Cooperdotcom
  • Smashing Magazine (also UI programming)

They all have Twitter and RSS feeds that you can subscribe to.

Many UX designers and developers blog on medium, but usually the best stories get tweeted by your network so you don’t have to worry about discovering them yourself.

Spring’15 class notes: Day 6: User research – part 1: planning

29 Jan

The goals for today’s class were for you to be able to:

  1. Explain the role of formative user research in the UCD process
  2. Set appropriate goals for user research
  3. Plan user research for various problems
1. Explain the role of formative user research in the UCD process

I told you about a project I’ve been working for and how important user research was for figuring out what the problem was, who the users were, and what to do about it.

2. Set appropriate goals for user research

We practiced together to write goals that tap into our users’ deeper motivations and life goals rather than only accomplishing tasks. We used these slides.

3. Plan user research for various problems

We worked through a total of 3 problems and you determined research goals, data collection methods, sampling strategies, etc. Please remember that the general goals of the project are not the same as the goals you set for the user research part of the project. So, while the general project goals can be “to create a better smart watch,” the goal for user research is always to understand something about people. For example, what about their watches/phones currently makes their life simple or complicated? For the problem with designing a game to teach 2nd graders math, a good goal for user research would be simply to find out what is fun for 2nd graders, and how they learn best.

Spring’15 class notes Day 5: UX team roles & Getting started with clients

27 Jan

Today’s learning objectives were:

At the end of class, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the various roles of people on a UX team
  2. Decide where to begin a UCD project

For objective 1, we had a guest – a product manager from Microsoft, and then we looked a bit at UX job ads to get more of a “real world” understanding of jobs, skills, salaries, and UX unicorns.

For objective 2, we watched the cat video below and worked through a case study about getting started on a project – a new course management system.

I’d like you to remember to

FIRST, identify your clients, users, and stakeholders

SECOND, negotiate and agree upon measurable goals with the client

before you get started on a project.

In the cat video, who are the clients, users, and stakeholders?

Users = cat

Clients = people who buy the cat food, executives, whoever pays for and approves the project

Stakeholders = the cat food factory – here, the developers (but as you can imagine, many others – e.g. veterinary doctors, pet health insurance companies, cat food ingredient manufacturers, etc.)