Generic research protocol

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Here is a generic user research protocol that might help guiding a Contextual Inquiry interview: make sure the modify it according to your topic and design challenge.

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Generic research protocol

  1. 1. [ INSER DATE HERE ] [ INSERT NAME OF THE PROJECT HERE] Research Protocol 1. Introduction My name is [insert name]. Thank you for talking with me today. I’m working in a [ INSERT THE TOPIC YOU’RE RESEARCHING HERE ] for [ INSERT THE NAME OF COMPANY/SCHOOL]. My group would like to know more about how people use our [ INSERT THE NAME OF PRODUCT/SERVICE HERE ] and related products so that we can design future products that meet your needs in an efficient and effective way. We are talking with a variety of people involved with [ INSERT YOUR DESIGN CHALLENGE HERE]. We will combine all interview responses into general categories so that each person’s responses will be confidential. During this interview, please remembernot to discuss any information that is proprietary to your company. Do you have any questions before we begin? [pause for a few seconds to give the participant time to think; if no questions move on to Rapport building] OK, let’s get started with some general questions about your job, company, and tasks. 2. Rapport building and background questions [Consider the below questions as a starting point. Try to ask as many of the below questions as possible. However to provide a good flow to the interview, you may ask only a portion of the questions or additional probing questions.] About how long have you been at your present company? How long have you been at your current position? Out of all the jobs you’ve had in your field, what tasks have you enjoyed the most? What was it about those tasks that made them the most enjoyable? 3. Description of organization Can you describe the type of organization that you work for? [e.g., education, public sector, retail, etc… ] About how many people are in the organization in total?
  2. 2. Generic Research Protocol (If public sector:) Would you say this organization is city, county, regional, state or federal? (If retail:) What is the range of services that your organization offers? 4. Primary Tasks/Major Workflows What are your primary work responsibilities? In what format does your incoming work arrive? What are the job functions of the people who send you work? Once you have received the incoming work, can you describe step-by-step what you do next? What are your other work responsibilities? How do you accomplish your other work responsibilities? Do you use any type of tools in your work? Yes (could you describe those for me) No What other people do you interact with to perform your work? Once your work is all completed, what deliverables do you send to other people? 5. Work Goals What goals are you striving for as you perform your work? What aspects about your work deliverable are you trying to minimize or decrease? What aspects about your work deliverable are you trying to maximize or increase? How do you know when you’ve done a good job? 6. Structured interview – approximately 1 hour [screen for focus areas] The next part of this interview will focus on specific activities that are part of your project work. Which of the following activities are part of your project work: 2
  3. 3. Generic Research Protocol [ INSERT NAME OF TYPICAL WORKFLOWS RELATED TO YOUR DESIGN CHALLENGE HERE, BASED ON THE WORKFLOWS IDENTIFIED IN SECTION 4 ] a. Workflow #1 Can you show me how would you [ PLEASE INSERT YOUR TASK HERE ]? Please I need you to describe out loud step by step as you do it. b. Workflow #2 What are the best/worst parts of [ PLEASE INSERT YOUR TASK HERE ]? Can you show me an example? c. Workflow #3 Can you help me understand more about [ PLEASE INSERT YOUR TASK HERE ]? Can you show me an example? d. e.g: “Finding, Exchanging, and Synchronizing Data” How people share/exchange files among different team members? When do files goes to different software for editing? How people collaborate with people outside the organization (e.g. vendors)? How people align with other people when modifying the same file at the same time? 7. Challenges & Pain Points What are some challenges in accomplishing your work at a task level? What are some challenges in accomplishing your work at a project level? How difficult is it to compile and integrate all the data you need before you start your work? 3
  4. 4. Generic Research Protocol What are some of the activities that take longer than expected? What was your expectation? Are there any of your work tasks that are repetitive? What makes it difficult or easy to produce work that is up to date and accurate? How difficult or easy is it for you to get a sense of how your work is part of a larger work effort? What software for your work took longer to learn than you expected? What hardware or software tools do you think would make your work easier to do? How much time pressure are you under to complete a certain amount of work? What activities frequently require many iterations for you to complete them? 8. Catch-all question (ask a few minutes before the end of session) We will finish this session in a few minutes. Do you have any comments about your work that you want us to know? Is there a topic that we have not discussed yet? 9. System Information What hardware do you use to perform your work? How many computer monitors do you use? What software do you use for your work? 10. Closing Thank you for meeting with me. We will use your responses to refine software that is used to support your work. If you have any questions or thoughts about what we have discussed, please contact me at <contact information>. 4

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