User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want

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My colleagues in Ensembl asked me to give a talk on user research. There were a couple of questions they wanted to answer but I also made the point that it is worth taking the time to dig beneath the surface to get to the root of problems. In doing so, whole teams can gain insight and empathy for all those users out there.

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User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want

  1. 1. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want User research The gentle art of not asking users what they want Francis Rowland User experience designer EMBL-EBIMonday, 4 March 2013
  2. 2. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want So... who is this guy exactly? User experience designer at EMBL-EBI Background in web design Distant background in environmental science Organiser for EBI Interfaces and Cambridge Usability Group I try to help people identify and describe [design] problems, connect with users, and deliver useful, usable services Day-to-day, I do a lot of sketching and prototypingMonday, 4 March 2013
  3. 3. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they wantMonday, 4 March 2013
  4. 4. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - attributed to Henry Ford (who may have never said this*) * http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/08/henry_ford_never_said_the_fast.htmlMonday, 4 March 2013
  5. 5. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they wantMonday, 4 March 2013
  6. 6. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want “The trouble with market research is that people don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say.” David Ogilvy (might have said this...*) http://www.foolproof.co.uk/three-old-chestnuts-cracked/Monday, 4 March 2013
  7. 7. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want So why bother with user research? curiosity -> insights -> empathy Talking to users will help you learn more about activities goals pain points opportunities “Validate that the problem you are solving actually exists ... [and remember] the user is giving you data, not an expert opinion” - Elaine WherryMonday, 4 March 2013
  8. 8. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Not this kind of empathy... Deanna Troi, Star Trek “empath”Monday, 4 March 2013
  9. 9. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want So why bother with user research? curiosity -> insights -> empathy Talking to users will help you learn more about activities goals pain points opportunities “Validate that the problem you are solving actually exists ... [and remember] the user is giving you data, not an expert opinion” - Elaine WherryMonday, 4 March 2013
  10. 10. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Why are you doing the research? Set out goals before you arrange user research What do knowledge gaps are you trying to fill? Who are you going to report the research to? How will you act on this? What’s next? Test hypothesesMonday, 4 March 2013
  11. 11. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Be prepared to dig... “WHY?”Monday, 4 March 2013
  12. 12. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Long term user research Mine your data! log analysis helpdesk tickets Diary studies Fly-on-the-wall Fly-on-the-wall: http://ebiinterfaces.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/science-stories-and-better-design/Monday, 4 March 2013
  13. 13. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Short term user research Interviews Surveys Focus groups Participatory design Usability testingMonday, 4 March 2013
  14. 14. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want How do you know when you’ve done enough? Look back to your research goals Did you answer your questions?Monday, 4 March 2013
  15. 15. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want How do you know when you’ve done enough? Look back to your research goals Did you answer your questions? A note on usability testing “Using small numbers of participants [in usability testing] is acceptable because we’re hunting for usability issues. When you try to extend the purpose of your test it’s not possible to rely on such a small number of participants.” - Dave HamillMonday, 4 March 2013
  16. 16. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Only users? What are your “competitors” doing? Information from related projects? Idea generation might just start at home...Monday, 4 March 2013
  17. 17. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Reporting back: “in-reach” Synthesising meaning from research results Storytelling Pictures; video Pull quotes & annotations Personas & scenarios Activity diagramsMonday, 4 March 2013
  18. 18. User research: the gentle art of not asking users what they want Thank you Any questions? Email: frowland@ebi.ac.uk Twitter: @francisrowland If you’re interested in learning more, come and talk to me, have a look at upcoming Cambridge Usability Group events [1] and the BCS East Anglia event [2] on March 7, 2013 [1] http://lanyrd.com/profile/camusability/ [2] http://bcs-paul-jervis-talk.eventbrite.co.uk/Monday, 4 March 2013

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