Five user research methods you've probably never seen


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Field research can be very dangerous! well at least scary. Every day researchers are being hit on, sat on, poisoned, accosted, emotionally scarred and generally made to feel uncomfortable by freaky people...err, I mean research participants. This presentation will outline 5 methods to keep you safe.

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Five user research methods you've probably never seen

  1. 1. Five user research methods you have probably never seen Oz-IA 2010
  2. 2. The five methods? ✤ cultural probes ✤ the “shop-a-long” ✤ visual analytics ✤ controlled vocabularies for user feedback ✤ the self-recruiting website
  3. 3. I have an admission to make ✤ You were expecting me to talk about things like those shown on the previous slide ✤ I’m happy to talk about them at another time, but there’s something much more serious to talk about ✤ You see, I’m a user research specialist, I go out into the field and talk to users ✤ And sometimes it’s kinda scary...
  4. 4. Field research is dangerous!
  5. 5. Field research is dangerous! ✤ Well, at least scary :) ✤ Every day researchers are being hit on, sat on, poisoned, accosted, emotionally scarred and generally made to feel uncomfortable by freaky people...err, I mean research participants ✤ Let me illustrate with a story...
  6. 6. Sam’s story “I felt so dirty”
  7. 7. Sam’s story ✤ It was about 10:00am and I arrived at the participant’s flat. I knocked on the front door and was met by a middle aged man dressed in a dressing gown and Ugg boots. I introduced myself and then entered the premises. ✤ We sat down at a desk in the study to conduct the interview. At the relevant time I asked him to show me some of his favourite sports websites (since that was what we were researching). It was when he started to type in a URL that I noticed to autocomplete bring up several previous websites. ✤ One of them was ….. ✤ I tried to pretend not to notice, but he knew I had seen it. I knew he knew I knew. He said "hrrrmmm it's amazing how disgusting the internet is". I threw him a incredulous look. ✤ It was then I noticed the Ke$ha and Lady Gaga posters all over the walls. He tried to explain that it was just the same as with Pete Townsend, he only ever went to those websites for research purposes. ✤ I started to backed away until I reached the front door, but then he stripped off the dressing gown and started ‘singing’ “I woke up in the morning feeling like P Diddy”. I ran….I was scarred for life, and I’ll never be able to look at an address bar the same way ever again!
  8. 8. So, five user research methods you have probably never seen...
  9. 9. 1. Make up excuses
  10. 10. If they answer the door like this
  11. 11. Or this...
  12. 12. Don’t even try to knock on this
  13. 13. “Sorry, I left my _____ in my _____ at _____”
  14. 14. Or use when you hear... ✤ “Urrrgh, I really shouldn’t have drunk so much...this morning” ✤ “Oh my, aren’t you’re a strapping lad?” ✤ “I don’t have any chairs, we’ll have to sit on my bed” ✤ “Have you ever heard of Amway?”
  15. 15. 2. Develop a sudden allergy
  16. 16. “I’m allergic to Brazil Nuts”
  17. 17. You should also be allergic to... ✤ Any “beverage” cooked or stored in a large vat ✤ Home-made snacks ✤ Vicious pets who “just want to say hello”
  18. 18. 3. Ignorance
  19. 19. “What porn?”
  20. 20. 4. Use your equipment
  21. 21. Voice recorder taser
  22. 22. The way of the tripod
  23. 23. 5. Unarmed combat
  24. 24. S-I-N-G Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin
  25. 25. Solar plexus
  26. 26. Instep
  27. 27. Nose
  28. 28. Groin
  29. 29. A practical demonstration
  30. 30. “I have to go, I’ve been double booked!”
  31. 31. “No thanks, I’m allergic to food”
  32. 32. “So, how about that cultural probe?”
  33. 33. “Hey, I’m just trying to do my job!”
  34. 34. “This is going to screw with my sample size!”
  35. 35. “Say hello to my little tripod”
  36. 36. “Thank you...and don’t forget, your privacy is important to us!”
  37. 37. A word from Captain Bleedin’ Obvious If you’ve come this far and not figured out this was a joke, don’t forget to rush out and buy my book and DVD set entitled AFRaiD - Australian Field Research Danger-avoidance self defence techniques for researchers, available in the foyer for $59.95
  38. 38. About Patrick Kennedy ✤ Patrick is an experienced web design, IA and UX practitioner ✤ He specialises in understanding audiences and their needs through user research, and using that knowledge to inform strategy and the design of online experiences ✤ He is Design Research Lead at News Digital Media ✤ He blogs at Pat’s Point of View ( ✤ He’s on twitter as @PatrickKennedy