Getting Started with User Research - Stir Trek 2011

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Presented at Stir Trek: Thor Edition, in Columbus, Ohio on May 6, 2011. …

Presented at Stir Trek: Thor Edition, in Columbus, Ohio on May 6, 2011.
Once you know who uses your product, all sorts of new questions start to emerge. How are they using the product? Why are they using it? What else might they want? In this session you will learn about three quick and easy methods to understand the users desires, needs and abilities. The basics of observations, interviews and card sorting will be covered. You will also learn ways to effectively share and communicate what you learn with your team.

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  • ExperienceNoviceAdvanced beginnersCompetent performerExpert performerFrequency of usePriority of tasksCharacteristics – personal, physical, culturalMotivations and attitudeExpectationsPersonal Characteristics: Learning Style, ChangePhysical Characteristics: Disabilities, Color Blindness, VisionCultural Characteristics: Corporate, CulturalMotivations and Attitude: Threats, Naiveté, Hostile, LazyStage of use: NoviceFear of the unknown, fear of failureFocus on accomplishing real workImpatient learning concepts rather than performing tasksTheoretical understanding only – no experienceAdvanced BeginnersFocus on accomplishing real workImpatient learning concepts rather than performing tasksRandomly access tasksEmpirical based mental modelCompetent PerformersFocus on performing more complex tasksAbility to plan and perform complex series of tasks to achieve a goalWillingness to learn new technologies and tasksInterested in applying conceptual frameworks to solve problemsExpert PerformersFocus on developing mental models of system functionalityAbility to understand complex problems and find solutionsInterested in learning about concepts and theories behind a system’s design and useInterest in interacting with other expert users
  • Time, energy, budget and [fill in the blank]:
  • frequency, importance, complexityPrioritiesCurrent process
  • Model and describe specific user group’s:GoalsNeedsCharacteristicsArchetype - not real individual or average userSynthesized from research – interviews, observations, etc.Include personal details found during researchOne primary, some secondary per site/feature


  • 1. StirTrek 2011
    May 6, 2011
    Getting Started with User Research:DIY Quick Course
  • 2. Carol SmithMidwest ResearchAkron, Ohio@carologic
  • 3. Small,Iterative Steps
  • 4. Behaviors, Desires, Needs & Abilities
  • 5. Observations
  • 6. Interviews
  • 7. 7
    Card Sorting via
  • 8. Design for Everyone is Impossible
  • 9. Who will use it?What they need to do?
  • 10. Same Job Title, May Differ in…
  • 11. Which Student?
    Connie via (Christopher Alison Photography) via
  • 12. Where do I start?
  • 13. Constraints…
  • 14. Scope for Success
    Plan and Schedule
    Research and Discover
  • 15. Interview Experts
    Who are the users?
    How many are there?
    Common complaints?
    Show stoppers?
    Assumptions and stereotypes
    Differences between users
  • 16. Focus On…
    frequency, importance, complexity
    Environment of Use
    location, abilities and limitations
    Experience Level and Knowledge
    mobile use, connection speed
  • 17. Define Primary & Secondary Users
    Separate by:
    Goals (Why will they use the product?)
    Environment (Where will they use it?)
    Context (When will they use it?)
    How else do they differ?
  • 18. Now You Have User Groups [perhaps very loosely defined]
  • 19. Observations
  • 20. 20
    Go to the user
  • 21. Why Observe?
    Understand user’s environment
    Abilities and limitations
    Situational (lighting, noise)
    Learn about:
    Real process
    Interruptions (frequency and type)
    Find out more about users
  • 22. via
    Actual Photo:
  • 23. Sit Back and Watch
    Arrive when they will be doing related tasks
    Observe for as long as needed:
    1/2 hour each - quick repetitive tasks
    >1 hour for longer processes
    Stay out of their “space” and don’t interrupt
    Take photos and videos
  • 24. Take Detailed Notes
    Write down questions and context
    Look for patterns and differences:
    Style of tasks
    Order of operations
  • 25. 25
    Artifacts! Collect, Copy, Photograph via
  • 26. Clarify Observations
    After observation ask about:
    Why doing?
    How typical was this?
    Clarify confusing observations
  • 27. Interviews
  • 28. Interview to Discover/Confirm…
    Build on what you’ve learned:
    Attitudes and Opinions
    Experience level and knowledge
  • 29. Styles
    Question 1
    Question 2
    Question 3
  • 30. Use Scripts
    Memory tool for facilitator
    Don’t have to follow
    Promote consistency
    Order of questions
  • 31. Questions
    Quality of questions correlates to quality of answers:
    Don’t lead or make assumptions
    Use participant’s words
  • 32. Stretch & Exercise
  • 33. Question 1
    Do you regularly book your travel online to save money?
  • 34. Alternates – Question 1
    How often do you travel?
    What proportion of that do you book online?
    Why do you book travel online?
  • 35. Rationale - Question 1
    Do you regularly book your travel online to save money?
    Address one issue at a time and avoid double-barreled questions.
  • 36. Question 2
    What are your thoughts about a new feature that allows you to instant message a travel agent with any questions as you book your travel?
  • 37. Alternates – Question 2
    Would you like to correspond with a travel agent while you are booking travel?
    What are some ways that you would like to correspond with a travel agent while you are booking travel?
  • 38. Rationale – Question 2
    What are your thoughts about a new feature that allows you to instant message a travel agent with any questions as you book your travel?
    This question asked the participant to predict the future.
  • 39. Facilitation
    Remain passive (body, face)
    Don’t confirm or reject answers
    Listen for vocalizations
    Watch non-verbal gestures
    Encourage participant to elaborate
    Ask your question and let them talk
  • 40. Silence is GoldenUser’s Time to Think!
  • 41. Card Sorting
  • 42. Card Sorting
    Maximize probability of users finding content
    Explore how people are likely to group items
    Identify content likely to be:
    Difficult to categorize
    Difficult to find
    Gaffney, Gerry. (2000) What is Card Sorting? Usability Techniques Series, Information & Design. via
  • 43. Benefits of Card Sorting
    Easy and inexpensive
    Use to determine:
    Order of information
    Relationships between info
    Labels for navigation
    Verify correct audience
    Gaffney, Gerry. (2000) What is Card Sorting? Usability Techniques Series, Information & Design.
  • 44. Open or Closed (Reverse) Sort?
    Group 1
    Group 2
    Group 3
  • 45. One title/subject on each card
    Short for quick reading
    Detailed enough to understand
    Supplement - short description on back
    Use printed stickers (handwriting)
    Practice session first
    Card Basics
    Preventive Care Guidelines
  • 46. Participants
    Representative of users
    Minimum of 6
    More participants = more data to analyze
    Allow one hour for 50 items
    30 – 100 cards
  • 47. Facilitation/Direction
    Shuffle cards
    Ask to:
    Group items in own way
    Talk out loud
    Think about:
    What expect to be together
    When expect to see
  • 48. Issues
    Card doesn’t fit: make separate group
    Not relevant: tell me
    More than one place: put in best fit
    Items not understood
    Correct audience?
    Items without consensus
    Re-name item?
    Include in more than one category?
  • 49. Grouping Cards
    Ask to
    Describe groups and name them
    Describe overall rationale for grouping cards
    Show best example from groups
    What was difficult? What was easy?
    Happy with final outcome?
  • 50. Analysis
    Codes on cards = faster data analysis
    Standardize group names
    Look for patterns
    Excel Spreadsheet (Donna Spencer)
    Online tools - limited analysis
  • 51. Online Tools
    Optimal Sort, Optimal Workshop -
  • 52. Patterns
  • 53. Looking for Patterns
    Identify repetition
    Groupings or clusters of users
    Overlapping characteristics
    Relevant to design problem
    After pattern is found, continuation of study:
    Adds cost
    Delays reporting
    Low probability of many new findings
  • 54. Focus your effortsuntil…
    Get to 80%
  • 55. 80% Sure We Know…
    Primary user’s
    Prioritize with:
    vision (why we are doing this?)
    business needs
    Awareness of what not known (yet).
  • 56. Are we there yet?
  • 57. 57
    At Least 80%
  • 58. Share What You Learn [Radiate Knowledge*]
    *Thoughtworks via @jonrstahl
  • 59. Goals of Sharing
    Help the team:
    understand user’s point of view
    prioritize content and solutions
    design for user’s needs and behaviors
    identify new opportunities
    create new solutions
  • 60. Information Radiators Should
    Represents all research
    Guide decisions about:
  • 61. Actionable Gap Analysis
    Change Situation
  • 62. 62
  • 63. 63
    Task Analysis
    Example of a Task Analysis by Todd Zaki Warfel from his Agile2010 presentation "Opening the Kimono a look behind the design process."
  • 64. Mental Model
    Goal or intent with Personas Mapped
    Mental Space
    Doing, Thinking, Feeling
    Solutions or content provided by oDesk
  • 65. Other Methods
    Competitive Reviews
    Focus Groups
    Expert (Heuristic) Evaluations
    Paper Prototypes and Wireframes
    Participatory Design
    Usability Testing
  • 66. Do UX Early & Often
    Put it on the User Wall
    Information radiators
    Research findings
  • 67. Update Radiators Regularly
  • 68. Recommended Readings
  • 69. Contact
    Carol J. Smith
    (773) 218-6568
  • 70. References
    Cato, John. User-Centered Web Design. Addison Wesley Longman; 2001.
    Gaffney, Gerry. (2000) What is Card Sorting? Usability Techniques Series, Information & Design.
    Hackos, JoAnn T., PhD and Redish, Janice C. User and Task Analysis for Interface Design. Wiley; 1998.
    Henry, S.L. and Martinson, M. Evaluating for Accessibility, Usability Testing in Diverse Situations. Tutorial, 2003 UPA Conference. (Activity)
    Krug, Steve. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.
    Kuniavsky, Mike. Observing the User Experience: a Practitioner's Guide to User Research. Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.
    Mandel, Theo. The Elements of User Interface Design. Wiley; 1997.
    Nielsen, Jakob and Robert L. Mack. Usability Inspection Methods. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1994.
    Powell, Thomas A. The Complete Reference: Web Design. Osborne/McGraw-Hill; 2000.
    Redish, Janice (Ginny). Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works.
    Rubin, Jeffrey and Dana Chisnell. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.