World Usability day: Bridging Research-Practice Gap


Published on

My keynote presentation to guide the discussion at the Dayton are event for World Usability Day, November 11, 2010.

Published in: Technology, Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

World Usability day: Bridging Research-Practice Gap

  1. 1. 1 Closing the gap between research and practice World Usability Day - November 11, 2010 - Dayton (area) Keith Instone keith <year> @ @keithinstone “development”“design” “user research” “scientific research”
  2. 2. 2 #UXRPI
  3. 3. 3 Welcome to World Usability Day 2010! Theme: Communication
  4. 4. 4 2009
  5. 5. 5 2008
  6. 6. 6 2007
  7. 7. 7 2006
  8. 8. 8 2005
  9. 9. 9 2005 web site
  10. 10. 10 About me: Professional background • BGSU > Computer science > Research associate > HCI > Hypertext > Web usability > Information architecture > User experience (practitioner)
  11. 11. 11 About me: IBM • IBM > Transformation > CIO > Workforce & Web > Enterprise Solutions > User experience
  12. 12. 12 Last time in this building
  13. 13. 13 Get on with it!
  14. 14. 14 My current “community service” focus… Researcher – Practitioner Interaction with purposeful over-use of “interaction” …instead of UXnet, conference organizing, local groups, …
  15. 15. 15 (My) goals for this session • I am by no means an expert – I suspect many people in this room have been addressing this for a lot longer than me • Facilitator – get you talking about it, then hopefully doing something about it • And I am hear to learn from you!
  16. 16. 16Did you do your homework? If you are a user experience practitioner, what types of challenges do you face often that you wish you had a "scientific" answer to? • Have you tried to find answers in the research literature? • What roadblocks did you encounter when looking for answers? • What successes have you had in taking research findings and improving your practice?
  17. 17. 17Did you do your homework? If you are a researcher, what is the value in engaging with practitioners? What is in it for you? • Do you have any examples of success stories, where your research got better because of interactions you had with practitioners?
  18. 18. 18Did you do your homework? What should students of HCI, interaction design and other user experience disciplines be taught about research to better prepare themselves for the practitioner world?
  19. 19. 19 Trend? Fad? Good time to revisit? • Start: How do we make the CHI 2010 conference better for user experience practitioners? • CHI conference bug / feature: the HCI research part • Answer: Organize a workshop CHI 2010 workshop • At same time: IA Summit session • Since then: IUE “panel”, Norman in interactions • Demarcating UX (Dagstahl) • How do they all fit together? Dunno. So I volunteered to give a talk to force me to figure it out.
  20. 20. 20 CHI 2010 workshop (SIG) • This workshop explores whether problems exist between HCI researchers and practitioners who are consumers of research – Yes! • Articulate factors that may render the research literature inaccessible or irrelevant to practitioners and to suggest potential improvements and approaches – Some • Learn from researchers how their research could benefit from practitioner input – Not so sure yet
  21. 21. 21 Workshop questions • How can the usefulness of research papers be improved to suit varied audiences? • How should research be disseminated to different audiences, including practitioners? • What are the barriers that discourage practitioners from adopting research findings? • How can collaboration between the two sub- communities be increased for future CHI conferences? • What should students of HCI and interaction design be taught about research, to prepare them for the practitioner world?
  22. 22. 22 Snippets from CHI position papers (or, what people who are smarter than me say) • Arnie Lund – Biz sharing with research: “This is too secret for MSR to see!” – Research collaborating with biz: “Who would get credit for idea?” • John Karat – Research papers are for the research community to evaluate (not really for practitioners anyway) • Kath Straub – HFI’s Research Update Newsletter: Yes, practitioners understand that recent research can speak to relevant issues • Nigel Bevan – Trying: UPA Usability Body of Knowledge – Works: Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (produced with US Government funding)
  23. 23. 23 Research culture “Publish or perish” Answers narrow questions Open sharing Experimentation Corporate culture “Produce or perish” Wants broad answers Strategic advantage Fear of failure HCI research culture Publish for researchers, not for practitioners Expanding field Status within academia UX practice culture No time for “research”: good enough Rapidly evolving practice Status within corporations Immovable objects
  24. 24. 24 Research culture “Publish or perish” Answers narrow questions Open sharing Experimentation Corporate culture “Produce or perish” Wants broad answers Strategic advantage Fear of failure HCI research culture Publish for researchers, not for practitioners Expanding field Status within academia UX practice culture No time for “research”: good enough Rapidly evolving practice Status within corporations Education Hard to teach students when practice evolving quickly Amateur practitioners Economic model for training Need more research into how to practice Knowledge No shared knowledge base Hard to organize research for practical use Multi/inter-disciplinary research & practice Communication Little shared language Speed-of-operation differences Finding each other Fragmented professional organizations Mapping “research answers” and “practical questions” Bridges: the challenges WUD 2010 theme!
  25. 25. 25
  26. 26. 26
  27. 27. 27 Information architecture: RPI challenges • Research and practice in IA are fractured – With most resources devoted to practice – One-way ride from university to practice – You cannot live in both worlds • Need an IA research agenda… • …Or, there is no such thing as IA research by itself: there is HCI, IS, or LIS research that IAs care about • Many people still confuse “project research” with “scientific research” • Can find existing research, hard to make sense of it
  28. 28. 28 If Don Norman is talking about it, … • “The research-practice gap: The Need for Translational Developers” - interactions, July/August 2010 • See also Kolko (Sep-Oct) “On academic knowledge production”
  29. 29. 29 A few “problem statement” quotes from Don • Immense gap between research and practice – Gap is fundamental – Knowledge and skill sets required of each group differ • Science: hypotheses, conclusions, and evidence • Practices (of most professions): scientific links are tenuous at best – Reliance upon “best practice”
  30. 30. 30 Pasteur: fundamental research aimed at solving important applied problems Researchers most often play in the fun quadrant, finding lovely problems to work on without regard for whether anyone cares outside of their fellow research in-group Inventors such as Thomas Edison fit the quadrant of searching for relevant knowledge to solve an applied problem, but without any attempt to expand our general understanding of phenomena A third quadrant is filled with tinkerers who produce inventions that neither add to fundamental understanding nor have any use Applicability Aimed at some practical problem Pure science. No application in mind Knowledge Search for new understanding Apply existing knowledge
  31. 31. 31 A new kind of practitioner (new discipline): the translational developer – Translate between the abstractions of research and the practicalities of practice – Translating research findings into the language of practical development and business – Translating the needs of business into issues that researchers can address Abstractions of research Research findings Issues to address with research Practicalities of practice Language of development and business Needs of business “stop pretending that researchers and practitioners speak the same language” (Nov / Dec recap)
  32. 32. 32 Mark Newman comments • Translational skills – What are the translation skills, who has them, how to motivate them? Lucrative publishing/consulting career a la Nielsen? • Translational research (at NIH) – Big pots of money DO motivate researchers to shift their focus. Would it work for HCI?
  33. 33. 33 Susan Weinschenk What Makes Them Click Applying Psychology to Understand How People Think, Work, and Relate
  34. 34. 34 Danielle Cooley (a practitioner) To contrast with this, Mark Ackerman (U of M SI) drew: “one head, two bodies” (researcher body, teacher body)
  35. 35. 35 Derek Poppink
  36. 36. 36 Why this is important (Susan Weinschenk) • Research is power in UX practice – Too many "urban legends" that people base their designs on – Rather than say, "I think that" about a design question you can say, "A study by xxx showed that..., and therefore we should do ....." • There is a lot of misunderstanding by practitioners about research – "I need research on XYZ. Why aren't you talking about that?" (There isn't any research to talk about!) – "That research is from 2003. It's too old". (If it's valid research it doesn't necessarily lose truth with age).
  37. 37. 37 Why this is hard (Susan, Mark) • Research papers are hard to read and interpret – Often poorly written, not have results that are practical – Results cannot be or should not be generalized • It takes a special (weird?) person – To be able to read and understand the papers and even more special to LIKE doing it • The best papers may be outside of your field: and each has its own research style – “Scientific" model is only one; qualitative social science is another – Even researchers have a hard time with this stuff!! • Research may not give you answers – Best research results in more questions than answers
  38. 38. 38 Demarcating User eXperience (workshop) September 15-18 • UX is seen as a holistic concept covering all aspects of experiencing a phenomenon, but we are facing the point where UX has become a concept too broad to be useful in practice. • Practitioners have difficulties to understand the concept and to improve UX in their work, and researchers rather use some other term to make their research scope clear. • Net problem: Do not even have a clear core concept to bridge the gap between research & practice • Goal: Write a “white paper” to define UX for a certain set of cases that make its scope clear
  39. 39. 39 White paper so far… • (35 definitions of “user experience”….) • Describes the core concepts of user experience and distinguishes UX from related concepts • Rooted in use • Subjective • Dynamic (changes over time) • Designing for a desired experience (and evaluation to see how close we are getting) • Elizabeth Buie: "If the practitioners can't use it [the white paper], it doesn't work!"
  40. 40. 40 PAUSE
  41. 41. 41
  42. 42. 42 Ideas for solutions • <fill in this page>
  43. 43. 43 CHI 2011 • Editing “benefits” statements for the program – Add “practitioner take-aways” to the program • Awards: best case study, impact for research paper • Community leadership – Design – Engineering – Management – User Experience – Health – Games and entertainment – Sustainability – Child-computer interaction
  44. 44. 44 Research culture ? Corporate culture Improve UX status HCI research culture Grand challenges UX practice culture ? Education Training for managers Knowledge SIGCHI collaborate on UPA BoK Communication Brokerage system to connect R & P with common interests Translators between R & P Face-to-face meetings (to start building long-term relationships) Social media Ideas / Solutions (very incomplete)
  45. 45. 45
  46. 46. 46
  47. 47. 47 (New) Usability BoK • Living reference that represents the collective knowledge of the usability profession • Derived from published literature, conference proceedings, and the experiences of practitioners (guide) • Some goals (related to UXRPI): – Define the knowledge underlying the usability profession (methods, knowledge, and skills) – Facilitate professional development, curriculum development • Users: practitioners, educators & researchers, …
  48. 48. 48 Next steps? • Comment on Norman’s interactions article • Tweet something with #uxrpi • Draw / post sketch to Flickr – tag uxrpi • Volunteer @ • More details / links at • Pick an idea from today’s discussion: let’s try it! • Contact me: keith <year> @ - @keithinstone