A few core ideas about how you can approach research analysis In international contextsWhat you might want to get out of itAnd how you can approach itNot unifying, instead craft
At Nokia, I was head of research for emerging markets softwareThat meant I was responsible for making sure Usable, Desirable and CompetitiveTo emerging market consumersLearned a lot from applying ethnographic approaches in my workIf that sounds glamorous, I guess some parts of it were funBut a lot of it was like this:
You’re jetlagged, sitting all day in a dark room Struggling to follow what’s going on - Pixellation isn’t intentional but it reflects the fuzzy feelingList of problemsThe translator says crazy things like “I don’t like it because this music player isn’t free.” and you see the moderator nod and move onWTF, the music player isn’t free? All these puzzles sit in your headYou want to absorb everything that you canBut it feels like strange behaviour is just pulling on a piece of threadAnd understand the total difference that people haveThere is so much that you don’t know So – how do we analyse this?
Pinned Butterly fly approachThe natural ending place of the naturalistic approach to understanding users in their own language and context.Informed by anthropology, we kind of want to write a book about what we’ve foundExample: Design a new Hindi keyboard. Step 1: Understand Indic languagesUser behaviour captured in all its specificityRichness of context celebratedWe keep pulling on the thread of a single user thing they’ve said until we get someplaceI’ve done so many of these, and I’ve seen my friends do so many of these too.Had to work so hard to get hereEvery one thinks you just go on junketsPressure to get resultsWhen you come back with these pinned butterlies in your baggage and you get into meetings, and try to convey the importance of them you can get glazed eyesIf you really want to see results, you can get pushier and demand what changes you’re going to see as a result----- Meeting Notes (01/07/2013 18:14) -----Set up anthropology earlier
Resulting in the dreaded shrugThis sparks fear in client-side researchers like you wouldn’t believeThe problem is that pinned butterflies belong in a museum and that product development looks more like this
Why is our internal decision making so important in international research? If our job is to capture how our users see the world, why should internal chaos matter? What are the implications for analysis of this? No research gods talk about this stuffMalinowski didn’t, Jan Chipchase doesn’t
Make this decision consciousMy contention here is that the lens of product making is essential to delivering research in a design environmentIt increases your relevance to the decision makersAnd it gets you out in the field againNowI’ve done plenty of pinned butterfly pieces of researchThere are probably contexts where they are still valuableBut the story of my years in Nokia is moving away from the museum and into the battlefieldIn international UX work, we have inherited an set of approaches from anthropologyI want to rethink how some of these are appliedSo how can we structure our analysis in this context?
Lower our expectations about NOVEL or COMPLEX research approach and analysis techniques, in order to have a bigger impactAnd get to the field more often
The greater impact you will get is incredibleIf you have stakeholders in the field, this is the single biggest thing you can do to have a better impactWhether you can do it depends on the answer to a specific question:
For many products, the answer will be “it’s good enough” For many products, this is the exact group that people target
These countries all have populations greater than 10% who speak EnglishTwo reasons to go to international marketsThere is a specific market that is so important to usWe want to make sure we have an international perspectiveIf Poland is your focus, then you have to go to Poland. But if you want to just explore Europe a bit, then Germany will do. WHEN NOWhen we were recruiting tech-loving 20yos, in India we recruited English speakers. In China we didn't. CHINA WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT MARKET that we didn't want to substituite itBut the extra work meant that we went there lessWhen important parts of the stimulus will be in local languageOr testing final translations
Important thoughts on responsibilityYour local contacts have privileged information They already understand much of the local contextSo we naturally rely on themBut sometimes we can get our approach wrong
An informant is a broader cultural perspectiveChange from a provider of comments and numbers to a true informant about the productThey are now part of the team to improve the designACCOUNTABLENot to hand over a lightly-edited transcript or stay locked up in an ivory towerWe have to BRIEF THEM ON THE DESIGNmake sure they understand the design intent and conceptual modelFor complex areas like when we tested dual-SIM functionality, this took a long time to explain
QQ Music example“The music player isn’t free.” WTFWe identified a lot of usability issues in that session, so the temptation was just to ignore it and move onBut after discussing with our moderator, we learned that “Free music stores” are included in local music players on AndroidNobody uses the native playerOne approach is to convert the WTF moments into questions for themLearned I needed TO INTERVIEW THE MODERATOR after every sessionEspecially for the desirability and competitiveness concernsThis takes a long time, and you only begin to scratch the surface
The thing about cultural insight is that it is never-endingWe don’t need findings, WE NEED ARGUMENTSWe need arguments from the field that we can useAnd arguments only come from closing the analysis
Debrief every day. Usability issues will tend to appear from the behaviourCompetitiveness and Desirability issues will only appear from discussions with the moderatorsWorkshop at the end that I led, where I interviewed them about what we found, screen by screen. At the end of the workshop we have a list of all the usability issues, all the competitiveness issues and all the desirability issuesWe have gotten to the bottom of the WTF pileThe WTF moments were translated into issues, or contextual needs
Final ideaA fact of life with research in general, and research in other cultures in particular is that people say crazy things
The temptation is to deliver an explanation of this that rests on “Chinese people don’t understand the environment.” Example – When are we going to tell them what environmentalism is really aboutThis is the equivalent of giving upAdd China link
The basic question we ask is: Is this behaviour exotic?
Give your partners enough information so that they could predict their own behaviour in that situation
Debrief Debrief Debrief
2. Suraj monitors phone resale price analogous to used cars
Suraj keeps his phones for about 8 – 10 months.
When he buys a new phone, he sets a target price that he
wants at resale
He bought a Blackberry Torch for 21K Rs and will sell it
when its resale price is below 13K Rs. (The day we met
him, it was worth about 18K Rs)
Previously, he bought a BB Curve for 14K, but within a
month its price dropped to 10K so he sold it immediately
because “the rate was coming down very fast”