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Field Research At The Speed Of Business


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Presented at the UX Akron Meetup Group, February 18 2015, Akron OH.

Published in: Design

Field Research At The Speed Of Business

  1. 1. Field Research at the Speed of Business: What, Why, and Some How Paul Sherman February 18, 2015
  2. 2. User Research What it is Why do it How to do it (intro) 2
  3. 3. User Research The method goes by many names… 3
  4. 4. My Term I use the term “customer observation” or “user observation” research. It keeps the focus on two things: The customer Observing them in the real world 4
  5. 5. Use The Term That Works For Your Organization! At a former company, we referred to it by two acronyms… FMO FMH Any guesses? 5
  6. 6. Whatever Works “Follow Me to the Office” “Follow Me Home” Part of the UX practitioner’s job is to align the team and build user-centered research and design activities into the product development life cycle. Use words that resonate with your stakeholders. 6 UX
  7. 7. Whatever You Call It… Customer observation is a method of understanding your target users’ goals, workflows and context. It reveals how they work (or play), why they do what they do, and how your solution fits – or might fit - into their current patterns of behavior. 7 UX
  8. 8. Why Observe Users In Context? Because Content Context Is King 8
  9. 9. Context Is King Imagine you’re talking to some target users. Where will you learn more about how they work? Here? Or Here? 9
  10. 10. Why Observe Users In Context? Because Behavior Doesn’tLie 10
  11. 11. Why Observe Users In Context? People (usually) don’t mean to lie. But people are bad at recounting the details of things they are expert at and do every day. 11
  12. 12. Why Observe Users In Context? Bonus… When you watch people in context, you can ask follow-up questions about things that never would’ve occurred to you in a lab or meeting room. 12
  13. 13. Current Solution Or New One? Most observation projects are run either to watch how people use an existing product or service… Or to identify how people currently perform an action…and assess whether there’s an opportunity to provide a new product or service. 13
  14. 14. Typical Objections The project manager: “It takes too long.” 14 The founder: “We don’t need to talk to customers, I know what they need.” The marketer: “My team can run a focus group.”
  15. 15. Countering Typical Objections “It takes too long.” Quality user research can be done in as little as two or three calendar weeks. Think of it as “sprint zero.” “I know what customers need.” There are other users besides you. Do you really want to build a product without ensuring that you’re meeting your target users’ needs? “We can just run a focus group.” Observing the target customers in context will reveal rich details about workflow and motivation that focus groups can’t uncover. 15
  16. 16. Want To See An Example? 16 (Video shown to attendees)
  17. 17. Here’s Another 17 (Video shown to attendees)
  18. 18. What are the chances I would’ve learned as much if I just brought those people into a lab? 18
  19. 19. How To Do Customer Observations Philosophical considerations Practical considerations 19
  20. 20. Philosophical Considerations Open your mind Own your ignorance Ask open-ended questions Ask questions because you want to know the answer, not because you want to show how much you know. 20
  21. 21. Practical Considerations Above all…decide what you want to investigate. It’s OK if you just want to go out and look for problems to solve. But be explicit that that’s your goal. 21
  22. 22. An Example Goal Statement During discussions with [client], we identified the following goals and constraints for this effort: Goals • Study and document current users’ workflows, and establish where [product] impedes workflow efficiency. • Uncover users’ wants and needs for increased workflow efficiency and data presentation. • Redesign [product]’s existing workflows where necessary, as well as design new workflows and features to better meet user needs and counter competitive threats. Constraints • Do not “disconnect” from the installed base. The redesigned workflow, views, and normalized terminology must not put any training burden on the current user base or cause more than mild and transient disruption to current customers’ efficiency levels. • Wherever possible, preserve the existing shortcuts and accelerators. Some users of [product] use the application often, and have developed ingrained habits of use for certain common workflows. The redesigned application will to the greatest extent possible preserve the users’ means of interaction and workflow habits. • The application UI will be browser-based, OS-independent, and usable on a tablet form factor. The application will be entirely browser-based. It should be designed to work on the latest versions of the top 4 common browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari). In addition, it should be usable at a typical (logical) tablet resolution of 1024x768. 22
  23. 23. Make A Project Plan You won’t regret it if you do. You will regret it if you don’t. 23
  24. 24. What Type Of Data Do You Want? Structured observations Record behavior with a coding scheme. “Participant entered transactions 7 times during her shift. Each took two minutes.” 24 Unstructured observations Just watch what’s going on. Ask follow-up questions in the moment. Looser, more conversational.
  25. 25. Recruiting Users Get access to real users, not the users’ bosses. Seriously. They have to be real target users. 25
  26. 26. Starting Your Observations You’re not going to feel prepared. That’s OK. Just go with the flow. 26
  27. 27. Collecting Your Data Use a format that works for you! 27
  28. 28. Summarize Daily Daily reports are your friend. 28
  29. 29. Summarize Daily Daily reports are your friend. 29
  30. 30. Summarize Daily Daily reports are your friend. 30
  31. 31. Analysis and Reporting Affinity diagramming is useful to identify commonalities and trends. 31
  32. 32. Analysis and Reporting Reporting is really up to you. Research some reports! 32
  33. 33. Caveats Adjust for agile: user research is often “sprint zero” work. But it can also occur mid-cycle. You can do it quickly, but don’t expect to shoehorn it into a single dev sprint. (Maybe two though!) 33
  34. 34. Paul Sherman +1.512.917.1942 QUESTIONS AND CONTACT INFO