Tag Archives: user research

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.

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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.

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.

Planning and conducting user research

28 Jan

Please review these slides before class on Thursday, January 30: