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Out of the Lab and Into the Wild! Mobile Ethnography for Richer UX Insights - Abby Leafe and Jay Zaltzman


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You know what your users experience in the lab setting, when they are in a controlled environment. But what happens when they actually take your product into the real world and try to use it? The technology explosion in the market research field has resulted in a wealth of new tools that allow UX designers and researchers to deploy users to test sites, apps, and products in the real world and report back on their experiences in ways that are actionable and meaningful. This session will arm attendees with the knowledge and technique they need to conduct mobile ethnography studies on their own. We will cover the end-to-end process of designing your research, identifying the right tool to conduct the research, and how to report back the results in engaging ways.

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Out of the Lab and Into the Wild! Mobile Ethnography for Richer UX Insights - Abby Leafe and Jay Zaltzman

  2. 2. Part 1 WHY GET OUT OF THE LAB?
  3. 3. What’s in your queue?
  4. 4. Cable customers tend to recall this stuff…
  5. 5. …but not this stuff
  6. 6. Why? Fear of judgment is only part of it It’s hard to remember off the top of your head Multi-viewer households
  7. 7. There’s lots that lab research is good at Usability Nomenclature Taxonomy Task completion Eye tracking
  8. 8. But there’s more to user experience than usability
  9. 9. Decision- making: in the lab vs real life
  10. 10. Case Study Objective: A company was developing a new navigation app and wanted the best user experience possible. Approach: During an initial interview, participants discussed their current navigation app and how they use it. Then they were shown the new app. Then the (brave) researcher and a client got into the participant’s car with the participant and drove to several locations using the new app.
  11. 11. Case Study Objective: Identify unmet needs and potential products for dog owners around the world. Approach: Phase 1: week-long mobile diary during which participants recorded their dogs’ activities, answered questions, and uploaded photos and videos. Phase 2: online bulletin board discussion to uncover unmet needs. Information from the diary served as stimulus and catalyst for ideas.
  12. 12. Case Study Objective: To understand how a beta version of a new set-top box operating system was functioning in the real world. Approach: One-on-one in-home interviews, using a task-based approach to have participants walk through likely tasks (set up recording, find On Demand programming, etc.). Respondents also kept a diary the week prior to the interview to note any problems or pain points.
  13. 13. Case Study Objective: Valpak had just launched a responsive version of their website and wanted to understand how its mobile coupons performed in the real world. Approach: In part 1, respondents participated in a traditional one-on- one usability interview in a lab setting. In part 2, they had 1 week to use a Valpak mobile coupon in a store of their choice, and then report back on the experience with photos and video via a mobile research app.
  15. 15. Is this study right for ethnography?  Look for experiences that you can’t recreate in the lab  Mobile apps are ripe for ethnography because they are often designed for use on-the-go
  16. 16. Should I attend? There are plenty of good reasons to be present… or not
  17. 17. Pros & cons of in-person ethnography * Get to see things first hand * Easier rapport * See the whole environment * Time consuming * Can cost more * Potential for observer bias
  18. 18. Pros & cons of remote ethnography * Privacy can create intimacy * Can reach larger samples * Less time and money * See only what they show * Don’t see body language * Need to herd the kittens
  19. 19. What else should I be asking? Do I go it alone? (Consider partnering -- especially the first time) What will the deliverable look like? (Allocate resources)
  21. 21. Start with your target Who do you really want? May be similar to lab research Consider screening for articulation, openness, etc.
  22. 22. Make your expectations clear In preparation for this study, please plan to clean out your car so that two passengers beside yourself can sit in it. This means you may have to remove child car seats or other items from the front and back seats of your car. Also, please email us photos of your driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance.
  23. 23. Trust, but verify Have respondents take a picture of something that confirms their qualification and send it to you (cable bill, prescription medicine, etc.) Consider pre-interviewing them on the phone so you don’t waste time
  24. 24. Remote research options Mobile screen capture Diary (video, photos, voice, text) Webcam Many great providers to choose from
  25. 25. In-home research considerations Safety and security - for both research team and respondents Respect their space Video
  26. 26. Make your expectations clear Consumers:  Don’t clean your house  Don’t make snacks  You will be recorded  Expect 2-4 people Observers:  Cell phones off  Dress professionally but no company logos  Don’t educate  Poker face
  27. 27. Writing the guide In-person: ◦ Allow time for set-up and getting comfortable Remote: ◦ Be explicit ◦ Give examples if possible ◦ Give staggered timelines (i.e. Complete X by Y) All: ◦ Make it fun!
  28. 28. Keeping them engaged Positive reinforcement – both privately and publicly Question of the Day – so diaries don’t get repetitive Bonus payments for certain activities
  29. 29. Other logistics Have a dedicated videographer Two hours and 3 observers is comfortable What kind of release do you need? Wear good socks
  30. 30. Don’t underestimate the amount of data you’ll get
  31. 31. Thoughts on reporting Consider using a Livescribe pen Think visually Include photos and video when possible
  32. 32. Jay Zaltzman Abby Leafe