Job Shadow


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An effective ethnograpgy tool, used to understand users, their needs and motivations in their environment.

Published in: Design

Job Shadow

  1. 1. Job Shadow Ethnographic Research Tool Shipra Gupta Sr. Usability Engineer Kern Communications Pvt. Ltd.
  2. 2. Method <ul><li>Job shadowing is an ethnographic research method used in the “requirements gathering” stage of UCD process where the observer follows the participant around his work place, ideally for a week and records their </li></ul><ul><li>Activities </li></ul><ul><li>Tools used </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction with: team, environment… </li></ul><ul><li>Human Behavior </li></ul>
  3. 3. Format <ul><li>This is a paper-based template, which the observer carries around following the user. The IA of the template is essentially divided into activities performed and physical environment, which takes care that the observer takes quick and organized notes. The information required to capture is chunked as: </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Activity </li></ul><ul><li>Observations </li></ul><ul><li>Special Comments </li></ul><ul><li>Physical environment </li></ul><ul><li>Sample </li></ul>
  4. 4. Pre-requisites <ul><li>A few things that the observer needs to take care before he conducts Job shadowing: </li></ul><ul><li>He needs to set clear goals and objectives of the study. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to be educated of the users work culture </li></ul><ul><li>Should be aware of the ethnographic technique </li></ul><ul><li>Have good observational and communication skills </li></ul><ul><li>A template for capturing the observations </li></ul><ul><li>Identification of the right set of users </li></ul><ul><li>Equipments for audio/video recordings </li></ul>
  5. 5. Tools <ul><li>A template to capture the observations </li></ul><ul><li>Pen or pencil </li></ul><ul><li>Paper pad </li></ul><ul><li>Camera- still pictures </li></ul><ul><li>Video and Audio recordings </li></ul>
  6. 6. Process (Checklist) <ul><li>Identify the user </li></ul><ul><li>Seek their availability </li></ul><ul><li>Brief the user about the process and his role clearly </li></ul><ul><li>Fix day and time for shadowing </li></ul><ul><li>Educate yourself about the users work culture </li></ul><ul><li>Choose the right place for observation </li></ul><ul><li>Get briefed about the users planned day </li></ul><ul><li>Seek their permission to shadow them in their meeting and other work locations </li></ul><ul><li>Make short quick notes on the template </li></ul><ul><li>Observe </li></ul><ul><li>Ask user to “Think Aloud” to keep the observer update of his activities. ‘What are you doing now? Can you explain?” </li></ul><ul><li>Take note of any point that the observer would need to clarify during the follow up interview </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule the next interview with the user </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze the samples. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Identify the user: <ul><li>Identification of the right set of users is very crucial for the study. The observer needs to have a clear profile of the target users. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Seek their availability: <ul><li>Once the target users are identified, you need to approach them to seek their availability and conformation to be a part of the study. This can be done through </li></ul><ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><li>Share their work calendar </li></ul><ul><li>Meet them personally </li></ul><ul><li>Make a phone call </li></ul><ul><li>SMS </li></ul>
  9. 9. Brief the user about the process and his role clearly <ul><li>Explain the user the purpose of the study and how this will help you </li></ul><ul><li>Its important to let them know that you are not shadowing them as individual, but as a potential user of the product to be designed to understand his needs and requirements which will help design better usable products for the user. </li></ul><ul><li>The user should feel an equal partner in gathering requirements for the product he needs to use. </li></ul><ul><li>You should let him know that he need not put any extra efforts but carry on his activities as he would in your absence, and that you would like to observe him in his typical work environment. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Tip <ul><li>The verbal communication is very important at this stage; one needs to be very conscious of the language and words used. </li></ul><ul><li>For eg: The user will feel better if you say, </li></ul><ul><li>“ I would like to observe you” Vs </li></ul><ul><li>“ I would like to shadow you” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Fix day and time for shadowing: <ul><li>Once the user gives his conformation to be a part of the study, you need to fix the time to shadow him. </li></ul><ul><li>An ideal day / period would be when the user is performing multiple activities, so that you get to observe him in different work situations, locations, moods and behavior. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Educate yourself about the users work culture: <ul><li>Its very important for the observe to have a basic idea about the work culture of the user to be a participant in his activities and understand the tasks he is performing. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Choose the right place for observation: <ul><li>It’s important to visit the location prior to the study and look out for an ideal place to observe from. </li></ul><ul><li>This could be the neighbors cube/desk if not occupied, any desk along the users cube, else add a chair in the users cube. </li></ul><ul><li>Its important to be near the user and not too far off. </li></ul><ul><li>You should be able to keep a track and observe the screen, or the users main working area. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Get briefed about the users planned day Before you start the shadowing ask the user to brief you about his planned day. About the tasks he plans to work on, any meeting that he is to attend… This will help the observer to keep pace with the users activities.
  15. 15. Seek their permission to shadow them in their meeting and other work locations <ul><li>Once the observer is briefed about the users planned day, seek for permission to shadow the user in the meetings and any other location other than his main work area. This could be labs etc. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Make short quick notes on the template <ul><li>The observer has to be quick at taking notes. Mark comments and spl. observations precisely. </li></ul><ul><li>Its important not to miss out on any details, things might look and sound irrelevant at the moment, but this can later be of value at the analysis stage. The observer needs to be open minded while taking notes and not have any self imposed restrictions during the shadowing session. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Take note of any point that the observer would need to clarify during the follow up interview <ul><li>When the observer takes notes, its important to see that they are structured and can make sense later for analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>Mark any special comments or observations in the template. If the observer has any questions or clarifications mark these and ask the user at break, end of session or the follow up interview. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Ask user to “Think Aloud” <ul><li>To keep the observer update of his activities, the users should at intervals prompt of what he is doing. Or the observer can prompt the user at intervals </li></ul><ul><li>‘ What are you doing now? Can you explain?” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Observe <ul><li>The observer needs to be very sharp at observing and tracking the details and the happenings around the users work place. </li></ul><ul><li>A checklist: </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts </li></ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>The users interaction with the environment </li></ul><ul><li>Applications and tools used </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Their preferred colour scheme </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mental models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interfaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction with GUI </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Human behavior </li></ul><ul><li>This will include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Their decision-making skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tolerance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tackling problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding of tasks </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Schedule the next interview with the user <ul><li>After the session schedule the next meeting with the user, for clarifications of any issues that the observer might have. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  21. 21. Analyze the samples <ul><li>After the session with the user, the observer should analyze the sample to map to the goals and objectives he had set before launching the study. Look out for emerging patterns and make the requirement list and other unseen needs that is reflected form shadowing. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Advantages <ul><ul><li>The observer gets to study the users behavior. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be a part of the users physical work environment and study its effects on the users behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand his mental models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Know the interfaces he is used to interact with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identity the unidentified needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The study is open ended, thus has a broader scope of understanding the users needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The observation made at this stage can come of help at a later stage of design process, for its been open ended and the captured data can be of help to the designer to understand the users behavior and needs at any stage of the design process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The observer gets first hand information about the user, unlike in other methods where it’s at distance and through third parties. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This helps in designing appropriate user profiles and scenarios. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This leaves very less room for any ambiguity about the user and his needs. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Disadvantages <ul><li>Users crucial needs are not identified </li></ul><ul><li>The observer needs to spend long hours with the user to identify his work patter, needs. </li></ul><ul><li>The current setup has space limitations. It cannot accommodate a observer for long hours </li></ul><ul><li>Observer needs to be educated about the users work culture, habits. </li></ul><ul><li>The user and the observer need to match their schedules. </li></ul><ul><li>They need to share same language. </li></ul><ul><li>If the user is not highly motivated he might loose on details, which might be crucial for study. </li></ul><ul><li>The users might not feel comfortable in the observer’s presence, and thus not behave in a normal fashion, in the given setup. </li></ul><ul><li>The users might not be open to share information with the observer, for he might feel intruded. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Things to remember <ul><ul><li>It is your responsibility to make the user feel comfortable in your presence. He should not feel invaded. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You should not interfere in-between his work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you have any doubts or need to clarify anything, make a note and clarify this at the end of the session </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An early visit to the location will help you get a feel of the place and decided you placement for the study. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More of Visual documentation will help not loose on details. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideally the user should be video recorded. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio, video and stills are good for later reference, and the study will be less dependent on the observer’s skills. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Deliverables <ul><li>User information </li></ul><ul><li>User needs </li></ul><ul><li>Scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>New Product Ideas </li></ul>