User Research Tools: Don't just do it, do it well


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Carrying out user research does not mean simply talking to people, users. There are certain things to consider and skills that are important to make sure it is done effectively. There are various methods and tools that can be used to conduct user research, but they are each appropriate in different contexts and all can be enhanced by being well planned and well applied.

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User Research Tools: Don't just do it, do it well

  1. 1. user experience agency
  2. 2. User Research Tools
  3. 3. Different user research tools can be more appropriate and useful in different situations. But, how do you make sure they are useful? How do you get the most out of the method you choose to use? It’s not just what you ask, but how you ask it, that results in useful insights from customers.User Research Tools
  4. 4. ResearchInterviews
  5. 5. What is a user research interview? An interview is usually just with one participant, to gather information on their opinions and experience. They can be done face-to-face or over the telephone, depending on what is practical. What are the benefits of interviewing? • Although time-consuming, you can obtain rich, in-depth information • They allow for clarification of both questions and responses • They allow for digression based on participants’ responses that are not pre- empted by the researcher.Interviews
  6. 6. How to ensure interviews are useful: Ask open-ended questions: give users the opportunity to expand on answers and express their opinions Have a predetermined set of questions as guidance. A pre-set list of questions ensures the researcher asks what they want to know and helps keep within a time limit. But remember it is for guidance… Probe questions: you don’t have to stick to the plan. Open-ended questions allow for tangents to emerge from participants, not pre-empted by the researcher. Allowing for digression and probing responses can elicit more useful, unexpected insights.Interviews
  7. 7. ResearchFocus Groups
  8. 8. What is a focus group? A focus group is an informal discussion around the relevant topic, to gather information from customers or stakeholders. What are the benefits of a focus group? • They are easy to organise • You can obtain several viewpoints at once • They allow for clarification of both questions and responses • They allow for discussion and digressionFocus Groups
  9. 9. How to ensure Focus Groups are useful: What is your objective? Consider what you really need to get out of the focus group; what do you really want to know? This will lead into what you need to ask. But… Don’t necessarily have too much to ask. Having pre-determined questions are a useful guide and prompt but there are several opinions to obtain and discussion and diversion will naturally emerge. To help this… Ask open-ended questions. Consider, too, how you ask them: don’t lead your participants. The way you ask a question can strongly influence how people respond, so ask broad, neutral questions to remain impartial and allow your participants to think of their own opinion. Probe when unexpected responses emerge. Allow participants to discuss their ideas and opinions to obtain some really useful insights.Focus Groups
  10. 10. How to ensure it is useful: the role of the moderatorThe success of the previous guidelines are facilitated by the facilitator themselves.Moderating skills play an important role in conducting useful focus groups. You don’t have all day.  Encourage participation Participants can usually from everyone. Some be expected to contribute people are more vocal for 2-3 hours maximum in than others; facilitate a a Focus Group. comfortable, relaxedWith open-ended questions setting and keep a balanceand tangents, discussions can between those talking tobecome lengthy and time make sure you really getgoes quickly! The moderator various opinions, not justneeds to manage time and those who speak thekeep focus. most.Focus Groups
  11. 11. ResearchQuestionnaires
  12. 12. What is a questionnaire in user research? Why use it? Paper-based or online surveys are used: • To gather information from a lot of people • For a less time-consuming method; participants can complete in their own time • Capturing measurable insights But, • There is no opportunity for clarification of questions by participants, or further understanding of responses by the researcher.Questionnaires
  13. 13. Making questionnaires useful: Closed questions can produce quicker responses and provide measurable, comparable data. Open-ended questions can provide richer information to add depth and understanding, but too many can be onerous. Use Likert scales where appropriate. They can provide a quick, clear insight of users’ perceptions, through measurable, comparable data. Give participants the opportunity to write comments. They may have something interesting to add that the researcher has not considered and is not addressed by the questions.Questionnaires
  14. 14. ResearchCard Sorting
  15. 15. What is card sorting? Users are asked to divide cards with keywords written on them into groups that make sense to them. There are two methods for doing this: o Ask users to group the cards into categories they define themselves. o Ask users to divide the cards into groups, under categories or headings given by the researcher. What are the benefits of card sorting? • It is a quick, inexpensive method of getting valuable insights into users’ perceptions. • It actively involves users in the research • Several viewpoints can be obtained in a short amount of time, if the sorting is repeated.Card Sorting
  16. 16. How to ensure card sorting is useful: Card sorting is a simple task, as long as participants understand what is being asked of them. However, one key way to make card sorting useful is to:  Repeat the exercise. By doing the same card sort multiple times, commonalities and differences between users’ perceptions can be highlighted. Common themes will quickly demonstrate particular groups or categories that people identify in a given context.Card Sorting
  17. 17. ResearchUser Testing
  18. 18. What is user testing? What are the benefits?User testing involves getting actual end • You can obtain real user insights andusers to try out and give feedback on a new opinionsdesign/system. • It helps to identify real problems in theIt can be done in two ways: use phase • Statistics can be produced and analysedo Remotely: users can use a prototype and to find out more about completion complete an evaluation survey after successes and errors in use.o Lab testing: in a testing area, under a • It gives quick insights into what time limit, users are asked to complete improvements could be made. scenarios or think aloud while completing tasks. The researcher will observe, usually discreetly via camera or two-way mirror.User Testing
  19. 19. How do you make user testing useful? The key ways to ensure user testing is useful User testing is a useful evaluation tool. The are: researcher has less input in the planning of  Observational skills: see how this method, in terms of influencing its well, quickly & easily the user operates. success, other than the set-up must be (Lab) functioning and enough time should be  Using the data: apply the findings allocated for the user to complete a appropriately, to make beneficial session. changes as a result. In remote testing situations, observation is not possible by the researcher. For this reason, lab testing is more advantageous. To enhance remote testing, audio recording would provide better feedback, but this is less likely to be practical than just completing an evaluation survey.User Testing
  20. 20. Engaging with users as much as possible is crucial in the development of improvements and new designs, but it’s not just important to involve users. The design and application of the research methods and how the research is conducted has a great influence on whether the involvement of the users produces useful outcomes, for beneficial changes and improvements. Make sure you get the right people, asking the right questions, in the right way.Last word…
  21. 21. Thank you!Natalie Moorenatalie@zabisco.com0115 9484 454