When Design Research is Evil


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A rough outline for the discussion around when design research is evil.

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  • thanks for coming. big thank you to Hot for hosting. to trammell, spool J, and peterme, for agreeing to do the topic. to Josh and Aynne from IxDA for organizing and logistics.
  • The point of the panel today is not to just talk about what’s evil but how to do good instead. We’ll start with evil because it’s super fun, but I will keep us focused on the positive steps we can all take with our research.
  • in other words, no complaining for us up here. there is nothing worse than computer professionals complaining. that’s not why we’re here.
  • i’m guessing pretty much everyone here conducts research. so how about we do: how many here have had research they’ve done be used for evil? and how many here are generally aligned with good? generally aligned with evil?
  • The ultimate example of evil turning good. Vader saves Luke from the Emperor in the final fight scene of Return of the Jedi. Our job today is to use our discussion of evil as way to do the right thing - to do good. My job today as moderator is to frame the discussion in a positive, actionable, light, and keep it moving. We can watch the 3 minute clip of vader turning good if you want. DO YOU WANT?
  • So this is what we want to do today - figure out how to turn evil to good. And save luke.
  • When is Recruiting evil? Planning a study? Choosing methods? Certain methods evil?

    1. Recruiting in an evil way?
    (and when it’s not). Jared has a strong take on this. I think Nate may totally disagree (selecting the right people vs remote recruiting). Could be fun.

    2.Conducted in an evil way? Methods (qual vs quant / opinion vs behavior)
    3.Commissioned for evil purposes? Brochure sites. Test the colors.
    4.Examples of good versus evil methodologies?
    Evil: Pepsi vs Coke – new coke came from the sweeter pepsi. One of biggest marketing disasters of all time.
    Good: Chunky Tomato Sauce by big Malcolm.
  • 1.What happens after the research?
    2.What do you do when stakeholders disagree on interpretation of results?
    3.What is the perception of UX research in our culture? Designers think of it? Developers?
    4.How do you inspire? How do you make research actionable?
    5.Are presentations worthless? (reports / doing designs instead of presentation)
    6.Do you do reports? Why and why not?
    a.I think Peter: no reports, only design?
    b.Nate: live observation. Reports get thrown away.
  • What do you do when seperate methods seem to give contradictory feedback? how do you decide what to do? What about when stakeholders and researchers disagree over the findings or recommendations?
  • 1.Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. Visionary ignoring versus douche-bag ignoring. How on earth do you know the difference?
    2.Circumstances out of your control. Oracle buys peoplesoft. Bankruptcy.
    3.Features creep and nobody thinks about the research
    5.Information is useless. Inspiration gets things done. (this is not a question it’s Nate’s opinion)

    Quote: Fire Them All
    Andy Budd: “If you work with people who are not fascinated and dying to be involved in user research, fire them.”

    Example: The Aeron chair vs Yogurt Shampoo
    Marty’s example in the book “designful company” about the Aeron chair versus Yogurt-scented Shampoo – weird but good. Research showed people thought the chair was really weird and, AT FIRST, uncomfortable. Opinion vs behavior. They said it looked weird AND it was hella uncomfortable, so they chose not to worry about the looked weird part.

    Example: Apple & 37 signals
    They allegedly ignore research. But it’s not true.

    Stakeholders / Politics / Organizational Structure Can Be Evil
    In the name of consensus, people play nice on teams, but nice isn’t always what’s best for the interface. So what happens is consensus. Research can fight consensus, but research can’t attend meetings, can’t call to follow up, can’t be courageous. That takes someone…with balls.
  • 1.What examples are there of interfaces that have come from research that are truly transformative?
    2.What inspires organizations to make dramatic improvements to their UX in general? What role does research play?

    Examples from The Face
    •Clotaire Rapaille: PT Cruiser
    •Hindsight fairytales of technology innovation blind us – kuniavsky.
    •New paradigms for research like perpetual beta
    •Windowing UI's come from research at Xerox and other places.
    •Flickr, Google, Amazon, Typed, Twitter, etc can be considered transformative interfaces that included a more broad definition of research.
    •IDEO – Palm V

    Opinion: Information is useless.
    Raise of hands. How many of us know how to eat better and exercise more? Would it help if I wrote up a report and handed it to you telling you that you should eat better and exercise more? No, you would say fuck you. But that’s what we do with research a lot. We hand them over, and then nothing happens.
  • When Design Research is Evil

    1. 1. When Design Research Is Evil Nate Bolt, Bolt | Peters Mark Trammell, Digg
    2. 2. " All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." — narrator, War and Peace
    3. 3. #designevil
    4. 4. When Evil Turns to Good
    5. 5. Thanks Darth
    6. 6. When Design Research Is Misconducted
    7. 7. When Design Research Is Misinterpreted
    8. 8. When Design Research Is Contradictory
    9. 9. When Design Research Is Ignored
    10. 10. When Research Is Transformative & Inspiring
    11. 11. When We Talk About Whatever We Want
    12. 12. When You Ask Questions @boltron @trammell
    13. 13. When We All Leave