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Getting to know you: User research fundamentals anyone can use

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User research is the foundation of user experience, but conducting user research can seem intimidating when just starting out. At its essence, though, user research is just asking users about …

User research is the foundation of user experience, but conducting user research can seem intimidating when just starting out. At its essence, though, user research is just asking users about themselves in a constructive and focused way. If you want to get to know your users better, this presentation will give you pragmatic tools to accomplish that goal.

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  • The quote by Hackos and Redish is actually about user and task analysis. The two are frequently paired with good reason, but they answer different questions. If you are conducting a single activity to conduct both user and task analysis, you need to be certain to understand in detail what questions each should answer.
    Coe speaks of the “users’ psychology.” This understanding provides the proper foundation for development.
  • The quote by Hackos and Redish is actually about user and task analysis. The two are frequently paired with good reason, but they answer different questions. If you are conducting a single activity to conduct both user and task analysis, you need to be certain to understand in detail what questions each should answer.
    Coe speaks of the “users’ psychology.” This understanding provides the proper foundation for development.
  • Several reasons users may not know what they really need: faulty memory, limited perspective, resistance to change
    How can the final product ensure user satisfaction?
  • Who: Categories of users; business plan, marketing research, and other business analysis artifacts may define users
    Tasks: Business artifacts such as marketing research and competitive analysis may inform this, but you may also discover some tasks while conducting user research that were not uncovered through other means
    Questions: What do you need to know to develop the product? The questioning process is iterative. You will probably want to refine your questions at each round of user research if you are able. If you are not able to have more than one round of research with target users, consider using surrogates, including family and friends.
    Method: More on the next slide, but in general, watch them or ask them (Summers and Summers)
    Plan and conduct: Working directly with users is often a ticklish business. Sales, account reps, marketing, and other business people may be protective of their contacts. Developing a plan that allows them to participate in the planning process to gain buy-in and allay any fears that you might adversely affect their business relationships. Beware common objections to direct interaction: “Marketing already knows the users. We don’t have enough time… money…. We are users ourselves.” (Hackos and Redish) and many more.
    Present: A bargaining chip to use with other stakeholders—you will be acquiring information they might need. Also, useful to demonstrate value of research as well as share the data with other stakeholders and team members. First step to getting team members to consider user satisfaction in the project plan.
  • Not meaning that a big MS Project Gantt chart is required. As simple as the bullets shown here.
  • Research will evaluate these goals to see where they match and where they differ.
    Look for gaps and questions that don’t even have a starting point.
  • Training includes what users have had and what they can realistically expect to receive.
    Age ranges example: ages of insurance underwriters were considerably higher than that of their assistants. These older workers had already managed to work around and even outside the current computerized system by transferring the burden to the assistants or by relying on manual means that were still available.
    Usage constraints: accessibility questions fall in this category as well as management imposed constraints among others.
  • Immediate managers of users will likely err on the side of what should be done vs. what is actually done to perform a job.
    Research: if you can’t get to users, this is the only way to answer the questions. Recent experience with start-ups has meant relying on research as the primary means of learning about target users. Anticipating a user advisory board, but marketing is arranging that and expect some bias.
  • Krug: “Recruit loosely, grade on a curve.”
    More niche the product, the more important it is to recruit target users (domain knowledge)
    Honoraria and motivators
  • Users get hung up on the data. For target users, get meaningful and plausible data. Provide some so users don’t expend brain cycles making it up.
  • Methods: Barnum, Chisnell and Dumas, and other resources
  • Methods: Barnum, Chisnell and Dumas, and other resources
  • Audio: Good quality microphone
  • Surveys and questionnaires: May misrepresent their view to make themselves look better or provide the answer they think management wants, may forget or believe they do things differently than they do, may lie because they are hostile to the project at all.
    Feedback: Especially from previous versions
    Usage tracking: Better for task analysis, but can reveal superstitious behavior (DOS delete followed by directory command)
    Interviews and focus groups may not provide access to real users, but instead provide at best a limited subset of the total user group (frequently the experts). At worst, these are interactions with direct managers, former users who have moved on to higher responsibilities, and the purchase decision makers (high-level management).
    Additionally, focus groups introduce group dynamics and a dynamic personality may dominate more passive personalities. If this is a concern, you as the usability expert must provide opportunities to get complete input from those passive personalities
    Usability testing should come at all phases of the development life cycle and ideally supplies any updated information to enhance an existing user profile.
    Observations may be remote (video of a factory line, observation deck of a auction flow) while site visits are actual users in their real environment.
  • Even if it’s just you, make others aware as appropriate
    People to share with include peers, team and project leads, and management
    Recognize the limits of your data
    Avoid forcing more conclusions than the data support
    Acknowledge the other constraints (business drivers, schedule, budget, and so on) on development when making recommendations
    Recognize that the details that may grab your attention may not be that significant
    If you slant the results, you will get caught
  • Hackos & Redish confirm that the types of analysis you apply depends on your project:
    New product: detailed user profiles including outliers
    Legacy product: list of the user skills compared with what they will need
    The information gathered in the user analysis will benefit all members of the project team; however, the other team members may not be quick to realize the benefits. Make the information readily available and publicize that availability. Put up posters about users.
    Understand how your team views usability, whether they actively support your activities by collecting and sharing information themselves, whether they expect you to provide all the relevant information, whether they support the idea of usability at all.
    Understand their experience with using direct user data. Less experience means a slower pace. Don’t try to force them to accept your conclusions.
  • The quote by Hackos and Redish is actually about user and task analysis. The two are frequently paired with good reason, but they answer different questions. If you are conducting a single activity to conduct both user and task analysis, you need to be certain to understand in detail what questions each should answer.
    Coe speaks of the “users’ psychology.” This understanding provides the proper foundation for development.
  • The quote by Hackos and Redish is actually about user and task analysis. The two are frequently paired with good reason, but they answer different questions. If you are conducting a single activity to conduct both user and task analysis, you need to be certain to understand in detail what questions each should answer.
    Coe speaks of the “users’ psychology.” This understanding provides the proper foundation for development.
  • Hackos and Redish list (pg. 13)
    The objections have a grain of truth in them that provides a resource to you.
    Formal request may be for a whole series of user interactions or for a single opportunity. Either way provide a detailed account of your goals for the analysis.
    Develop a usability life cycle plan that mirrors current development lifecycles.
    The process of user analysis will lead to new questions and new needs for information. Change also means that as the mental model of the user unfolds, some design decisions may need to be revisited.
  • From “Creating Effective User Surveys,” originally presented with Caroline Jarrett
  • Transcript

    • 1. Getting to know you User research fundamentals anyone can use Karen L. Bachmann Research & Analysis Practice Lead, Perficient XD @karenbachmann #stc14
    • 2. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 What we will cover •  What user research is. •  The fundamentals of planning and conducting user research. •  Types of user research. •  Inputs that can help guide effective user research. •  How to identify and recruit the right participants. •  Alternatives when getting direct access to users is challenging. •  How present the compelling findings that support design and inform needed changes.
    • 3. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 User research in the development life cycle 3 •  User Research •  Task Analysis •  Environment Analysis •  UI Design Prototypes •  Usability Requirements •  UI Functional Prototypes •  Screen Elements, Interactions, and Behaviors •  User Interface Analysis Design Development Testing Maintenance Usability Testing
    • 4. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 USER RESEARCH What user research is Why is it essential What you learn about users 4 ?
    • 5. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 What user research is •  The foundation of user experience •  Essentially, it’s asking users about themselves in a constructive and focused way. •  “The process of learning about ordinary users by observing them in action” (Hackos and Redish) •  Requires more than just scientific principles and data gathering techniques; it requires empathy •  An ongoing process because the information is subject to change over time 5
    • 6. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 What we learn from user research •  User needs and expectations •  Contexts of use •  Behaviors, triggers, and influences •  Motivations and attitudes •  Demographics, background, experience, knowledge, and other characteristics •  A clear picture of real and distinct users 6
    • 7. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 User research… •  …does not identify an “average” user, but can help develop composites (personas, profiles, types) •  …requires empathy, not just scientific principles and data gathering techniques •  …is subject to change over time as users change and their expectations grow 7
    • 8. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Why do user research •  To understand and share current user experiences •  To distinguish between user needs and user wants •  To anticipate user reactions to and the chances for success with a particular development effort •  To increase the likelihood of a project’s success before starting development through shared understanding •  To identify all possible users of the product as concretely as possible 8
    • 9. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 What user research should answer 9 User Research Who What How Why Where When (How, Why) ?
    • 10. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Example Case: PD Intranet Site •  Intranet portal for professional development and training •  International consumer package goods company •  Users include a wide range of functions: back office staff (HR, IT, etc.), production and warehouse staff, sales teams, drivers •  Supporting a new program for increasing training access to allow 3 WBT and 1 ILT each year 10
    • 11. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 PLANNING USER RESEARCH Review inputs Plan for a study Identify goals for a successful study Identify and recruit the best participants possible 11
    • 12. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Steps to conduct user research •  Plan research •  Determine what you want and need to learn from users •  Determine who your desired users are •  Determine what user activities you need to support •  Determine the research method •  Develop questions that you need to know about the users and their processes •  Conduct research •  Present results 12
    • 13. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Writing a research plan •  WHY: What you want to learn – study goals •  WHO: Groups of users you need to talk to •  WHAT: Specific information to discuss •  HOW: Methods to use at each phase of development •  WHEN: Session schedule •  WHERE: Location of session 13 Email me for a copy of my plan template
    • 14. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHY: Setting goals for a study •  Stakeholder understanding •  Business goals and constraints •  Market expectations •  Technical goals and constraints 14
    • 15. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Steps to conduct user research •  Stakeholder •  Provide opportunities for employee growth •  Promote consistent pride in brand and culture •  Market expectations •  Competitors offer training – may lure employees •  Business goals and constraints •  Need to implement in 6 months •  Budget $$$ •  Technical goals and constraints •  Update technology •  Move to RWD 15
    • 16. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHY: Types of information to learn •  Types of users •  Industry experience •  Job experience •  Roles •  Computer experience •  Education and training •  Expectations and influences •  Attitudes and motivations •  Times for interactions •  Working conditions (environment, platform) •  Usage constraints •  Satisfaction with current conditions •  Perspective on changes to current conditions •  User goals and requirements 16
    • 17. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Activity: Set a goal for the study Example: Understand the platform different types of users use to access the intranet today. 17
    • 18. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHO: Go-to sources about users •  Users themselves •  Direct interactions •  Indirect interactions •  The immediate managers of users •  The upper management (the people who are paying for a project, but possibly farther removed) •  Surrogate users •  Industry and group publications and organizations •  Social networks 18
    • 19. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHO: Selecting participants •  Understand the most significant group of users •  Highest priority •  Most frequent users •  Engage as many as feasible •  1 user > no users •  Combine methods to reach more users •  Surrogate users > no users of the perfect profile 19
    • 20. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHAT: Example types of plans •  Interview plan •  Guide vs. Script •  Questions and probes •  Survey plan and questions •  Activity guide •  Usability test plan •  Task scenarios •  Test data and other inputs •  Questions 20
    • 21. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 HOW: Moderating the session •  Be nice and empathetic •  Recognize they are experts and allow them to introduce new topics •  Ask questions and pursue ideas as they emerge •  Don’t guide, correct, or defend •  Encourage any final thoughts and suggestions •  Thank participants! 21
    • 22. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 HOW:After the session •  Allow time between sessions to jot down key observations while fresh •  Discussion observations with note taker and any observers •  Don’t draw conclusions or make recommendations (or do so with caveats) •  Send a thank you note if appropriate •  Send out any honorarium 22
    • 23. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 WHEN & WHERE •  Accommodate your test participants’ availability •  In a lab environment •  Within the user’s environment •  Remotely via screen sharing and conference call •  Anywhere you can meet users •  Times match your user’ availability •  Be flexible 23
    • 24. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Thoughts on session logistics •  Observers •  Level of access to users and visibility during test •  Relationship to participants (supervisors? peers?) •  Ground rules for interaction •  Buy-in and involvement •  Recording •  Handwritten notes •  Screen movies to capture movements •  Audio and video of participant •  Permissions to use audio, video, or name 24
    • 25. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 TYPES OF RESEARCH Overview of types of user research Picking the mix that works for you and your users 25
    • 26. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Example techniques & degrees of separation •  Industry research •  SME interviews •  Usage tracking •  Feedback from users •  Surveys and questionnaires •  Social networks •  Focus groups •  Diary studies •  Interviews •  Usability testing •  Observations •  Site visits 26 Interactionwithrealusers Distant Direct
    • 27. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Activity: Select approach to reach the following types of users •  HR personnel •  Regional sales managers •  Warehouse stockers •  Delivery drivers 27
    • 28. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 ANALYSIS Identify significant findings Present them in a compelling way 28
    • 29. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Align findings to study goals •  Categorize findings so that all stakeholders understand how what you learn answers the questions they had •  Document thoroughly where study goals were not met and why •  Identify any surprise insights that were not anticipated, but turned out to be very significant 29
    • 30. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Reporting •  Share your findings •  Focus on significant conclusions and provide recommendations •  1-2 pages (no “Big Honkin' Report”) •  Bullets and lists are good •  Skip the report and do affinity diagramming/K-J analysis •  Tailor formality to your audience •  Recognize the limits of your data •  Summarize study for readers outside the project 30
    • 31. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Understanding users •  Complete profiles of all users and any composites for design •  User personas •  User and usability requirements •  User artifacts (such as forms, documentation, and similar) •  Screener for usability test recruiting 31
    • 32. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Understanding important activities •  Process, not tools •  Task models and work flows •  Journey and experience maps •  Scenarios •  Stories about how users perform activities in their own world currently •  Users’ models for interacting with content, tools, and other people in performing their actions 32
    • 33. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Understanding context of use •  The conditions that users will face when using the end product •  The users’ physical environment •  The users’ platform •  “Noise” in the communication 33
    • 34. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Where the analysis takes you… User Goals Users Activities Context Not necessarily the same as… §  Stakeholder understanding §  Business goals and constraints §  Market expectations §  Technical goals and constraints 34
    • 35. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Activity: Highlight a key observation Review excerpts from Anton’s interview and note comments that support the study goals. 35
    • 36. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Example Case: PD Intranet Site 36 “I've been with the company for 8 years now. I've seen initiatives like this before. It would be great if it worked this time, but... [laughs]. For the warehouse team, it's tough to get some of them to use the intranet at all.” “I have a smart phone, but I use it for calls and emails only. Some texts from my family. I have big hands, so browsing the web on such a small screen is too much of a hassle.” “I use YouTube on my home laptop because I've found some great videos on assembling remote controlled plane kits, my hobby. I also have started to use Pinterest because my wife told me about some boards on RC planes.” “Will I be able to help my team plan their training?”
    • 37. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Making user research part of the plan •  Know the objections and have answers for them •  Prepare a formal request •  Provide cost analysis of savings from solid user analysis in similar projects •  Look for ways to integrate user analysis in existing processes •  Prepare management for plan changes 37
    • 38. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 I hope you got that “nugget” that helps! Thank you! 38
    • 39. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 “Tenyearsfromnowmanyoftheinformationyoulearn attheconferencewillbeoutofdate,theonlythingwill lastistherelationshipyoubuildtoday.”~CamMiPham So let’s connect: karen.bachmann@gmail.com @karenbachmann www.linkedin.com/pub/karen-bachmann/4/a/884/ 39
    • 40. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 About me Karen Bachmann, the Research & Analysis Practice Lead with Perficient, helps clients deliver usable products that support how users need and expect to interaction with information and perform their tasks. Karen is a member of STC, UXPA, and ACM SIGCHI. She is a former manager of the Usability & User Experience community and is an Associate Fellow of STC. She lives with 6 ferrets and a cat, who view her and the other human in the house as necessary, although hard-to-train, staff. Got treats? 40
    • 41. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 User and task analysis references •  M. Coe. Human Factors for Technical Communicators. •  J.T. Hackos and J.C. Redish. User and Task Analysis for Interface Design. •  T. Mandel. The Elements of User Interface Design. •  J. Nielsen. Usability Engineering. •  B. Shneiderman. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. •  I. Young. Mental Models. 41
    • 42. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Usability requirements references •  C. Courage, K. Baxter. Understanding Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements - Methods, Tools, and Techniques. •  J. Jubner. “Setting Usability Requirements.” http:// www.deltamethod.net/hb_WR5_UsabilityReq.htm •  S. Lauesen, H. Younessi. “Six Styles for Usability Requirements.” http:// www.itu.dk/~slauesen/Papers/SixStyles.pdf •  E. Smith, A. Siochi. “Software Usability Requirements by Evaluation.” http://www.acm.org/~perlman/hfeshci/Abstracts/88:264-266.html •  W. Quesenbery. “5Es of Usability.” http://www.wqusability.com/ •  Usability Net (A European Union Project). “Requirements.” http:// www.usabilitynet.org/tools/mainrequirements.htm •  Xerox Corporation. “How to Develop Usability Goals.” Usability SIG website: http://www.stcsig.org/usability/resources/toolkit/toolkit.html 42
    • 43. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Usability testing references •  C. Barnum. Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test! •  J.S. Dumas, J.C. Redish. Practical Guide to Usability Testing. •  J. Nielsen. Usability Engineering. •  J.S. Dumas, J.C. Redish. Practical Guide to Usability Testing. •  J. Rubin, D. Chisnell. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, 2nd Edition. •  D. Stone, C. Jarrett, M. Woodroffe, S. Minocha. User Interface Design and Evaluation. •  K. Summers, M. Summers. Creating Websites that Work. 43
    • 44. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Usability testing references •  C. Barnum. Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test! •  J. Dumas, D. Chisnell. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, 2nd Ed. •  S. Krug. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. •  S. Krug. Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. •  J. Nielsen. Usability Engineering. •  D. Stone, C. Jarrett, M. Woodroffe, S. Minocha. User Interface Design and Evaluation. •  K. Summers, M. Summers. Creating Websites that Work. 44
    • 45. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 User survey references •  D.A. Dillman. Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. •  A.N. Oppenheim. Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. •  P. Salant and D.A. Dillman. How to Conduct Your Own Survey. 45
    • 46. © 2014 K. Bachmann User Research Fundamentals – STC Summit 2014 Organizations and resources •  STC Usability & User Experience: http://www.stcsig.org/usability/ •  User Experience Professionals’ Association: http://upassoc.org/ •  ACM SIGCHI: http://www.sigchi.org/ •  Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: http://www.hfes.org/ 46