Signal's UX Designer Alice Herbison was asked to speak at this year's Drupal Camp Scotland, on the topic of how user research can be used throughout the project lifecycle. Missed it? You can check out the slides here.
Drupal Camp Scotland 2018 - UX research throughout the project lifecycle.
Alice, UX designer @ Signal
Signal, Drupal, UX team
My work is full spectrum
MSc in HCI, undergrad in psychology, dancer
How we integrate UX research methods into the project process, a few examples, and sharing insights and helpful tips
Release, test, learn
Feel like it should probably connect in a circle, because learnings evolve and lead to more discovery work
For us the whole flow could be an agile sprint, working quickly and looping over and over, with UX & design working ahead of each dev sprint,
Or it could be more waterfall but using Kanban, with the bulk of UX&D work done up front and passing tasks / functionality into build, especially smaller projects. Depends on project which one.
Original approach - doesn’t match reality, research isn’t perfect and wanted to highlight that
UX involved heavily in discovery phase.
Typically this might include other members of the planning team as well to set strategy.
Smaller framework within the discovery phase that we use to gather needs.
Business requirements - what are the commercial goals of the site
User needs - top tasks or key functionality needed
Content - content available, and content possible within timeframe
Most common difficulty is tension between business and user - especially on smaller projects or change requests - when the business suggests something that’s important to them but we can’t establish value to the user.
First example, when we thought there might be tension between the business goals and user needs.
Charity - provides scheduled sporting activities to help alleviate homelessness and social exclusion.
People engage 4-5 times a week, extended relationship, courses
Needed website redesign - out of date, lack of content
First instinct was to use the site to help the people who engage with the services
Charity helps in person but website should also support this through online outreach - showcase all the schedules, latest updates, activities, ways the charity can help, support programmes, strong content direction
Charity was saying they wanted their website’s audience to be the business sponsor. Generate income and explain ‘what they do’ but more from an ‘removed’ point of view rather than active.
Charity user = website user, Macmillan example - despite offline support, website plays huge role.
Felt like something to absolutely validate to ensure content direction was correct
Charity worked in Edinburgh - ideal opportunity to visit them on-site.
Most important thing to help design research is setting a research goal.
Influences the direction of the research - from what methodology chosen to how to present the findings back.
Best prediction of future behaviour is past behaviour
Clear goal to help lead the discussion
Answer = absolutely no role
To get this answer, the questions I asked to meet the research goal were based around:- How did the people there discover the charity? How did they get involved?- How do they keep up to date with what’s going on and the care options available to them?- What kind of technologies do they use?
Charity engagement came through personal recommendations or outreach programmes
In the discover phase
Collect assumptions - any biases from the team
Set clear a goal, manageable research goal
Use research to validate those assumptions
Helped inform the site strategy - needed to highlight services & impact to be an attractive option to sponsorship, but not focus fully on those users of the charity themselves
Where the idea generation phase happens for UXD.
For UX, information architecture, defining labels, high-level layout needs, templates
Continuing with the charity example, at this point we knew the various site audiences:Business supportersIndividual supportersCare workers at shelters and organisationsThe players (to a lesser extent than we thought) Defining the information architecture for the site.
Great evaluative method for IA work is tree testing.
A tree test is a ‘search method’ type of research where participant is presented with site structure and asked to find where they think certain content lives
Treejack - online tool
Input site structure, set up survey & mark correct answers, send out to participants
Free plan is good, has enough for small studies but paid plan offers much more extensive options
Display everything that user can see - gives all evaluative options
Set up questions & send
Results panel - one of many useful views. Clear, quantitative statistics.
Gives breakdown of complete, direct success = no changing mind
A few reasons this would be a suitable evaluation method during the envision phase
Have something to validate - not for exploration
Timezone independent, people can fill out in their own time
Removes any conflict or confusion for UI (could run further testing using prototypes with the confirmed labels)
Can send to many especially on the paid plan, also fun and easy way for frequent customers to feel involved in the design process
Build phase - not generally an easy one to integrate any end-to-end research in because things are moving quickly
While things are in build, UX are often in other stages working ahead
The interesting thing about the evolve stage is it can describe two different types of work
One where we’re evaluating something we didn’t build, and the UX work might be self-contained report of recommendations
One where we’re evaluating something we did build, and looking to improve or refine it further
Give dental chain context
Task was to run a piece of research with a few different streams within it - Heuristic review Usability testing Statistics and website feedback Myself running interviews with practice and head office staff
Goal for the staff interview portion was…
Clear business vs user investigation - link to cyclical nature of process
One thing that might stand out = not users of site
They are a key, unified source of user feedback. We could speak with 10 customers and get a few concerns, but speaking with staff will get them all.
Helps improve overall customer service journey.
Went to practices in Scotland and England, speaking with practice staff - manager and reception team, then Head office
More formal interviews - full discussion guide, recorded
Way the website talked about getting in touch = pushing many to contact head office (sitting beside receptionist), needed way better signposting and page design (put together set of recommendations/wireframe)
NHS availability - small private upsell, always an option but site is blocker
Major workflow difficulties prevented site from being accurate
Main takeaway for the evolve stage - if you can’t easily get in touch with users, speaking with staff as a info resource can really help
Final bit of evolve - largest usability study run
Site built and released section by section. Began with separate subdomain housing key content, then gradually transitioned over.
Agile methodologies meant challenges of fitting research in during initial design and build stage.
Site live fully for around 8 months - gave big opportunity to evaluate it through usability testing.
Originally split research into different site sections - this first cycle targeted 3 of 8 areas
Knew that 5 different types of people would use these sections
Across several different types of devices
Massive challenge of direction for the research - normally we’d go with 2-3 clear research goals
Client wanted to investigate 39 key questions
Meant the research was kept more generic in terms of website tasks, spread across the different user groups
Main takeaway would like to talk about from this challenge, was how to analyse such a large volume of insight
Not needing to act immediately on findings - and curiousity from client meant at this point there was no clear priority
We had a lot of data from 20 participants - needed an easy way to share and summarise findings within the team and with the client
Best way to do this - Trello board (Jessica Crabb)
First 2 columns are the research plan - outlining the usability activities and participants schedule
Every single other card is a piece of insight
Being digital means this is really easy to share with the team and creates a permanent record (don’t lose boards)
Each participant has a colour. Each card is marked with frequency of insight gathered.
Once you have them all, group the insights into different categories
Group by these, but even once grouped, you need to take the summary one step further to present back
Highlighted columns show the summarised view, what goes in report
What this mean was the research gave the client very clear areas to prioritise - both from immediate, necessary fixes, to longer-term strategy ideas.
At the beginning I outlined 3 things I hope you could takeaway from this talk:Appropriate research methods that you can use to investigate - we looked at interviews, tree testing and usability testing
When and where they’re appropriate
And the kind of impact research can have, which in our case: Charity = stops you aligning design… Charity = check IA Dentist = fix workflows, bigger tech problems Institution = prioritise change on a big site
Signal's Alice Herbison @ Drupal Camp Scotland 2018