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Signal's Alice Herbison @ Drupal Camp Scotland 2018


UX research throughout
the project lifecycle




some helpful methods of investigation
when they can be used on a project
the kind of impact research can have








































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Signal's Alice Herbison @ Drupal Camp Scotland 2018

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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.

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.


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Signal's Alice Herbison @ Drupal Camp Scotland 2018

  1. 1. UX research throughout the project lifecycle
  2. 2. @alicegherbison
  3. 3. some helpful methods of investigation when they can be used on a project the kind of impact research can have
  6. 6. our assumption charity user = website user
  7. 7. research goal
  8. 8. research goal = what role does the website play in the lives of the people the charity helps?
  9. 9. never visited website got all information from Facebook mostly used phones to go online
  10. 10. collect assumptions set research goal use research to validate
  11. 11. no way we would have known true behaviour otherwise
  12. 12. tree testing
  13. 13. Tree Jack
  14. 14. TREE JACK
  15. 15. TREE JACK
  16. 16. have something to validate reach people remotely want to ignore UI get quick stats and robust sample size
  17. 17. THE DENTIST
  18. 18. research goal = 1. develop a deeper understanding of end user needs and expectations (and any localised differences) through direct and indirect feedback 2. identify and prioritise business needs
  19. 19. why does speaking with staff count as user research?
  20. 20. staff interviews
  21. 21. contact page giving wrong impression practice pages not highlighting NHS CMS setup makes updating difficult
  22. 22. speaking to staff can identify user needs
  24. 24. 39 key questions ?
  25. 25. things to fix explore further opportunities reassurance JIRA & prioritise UX team client to explore client happy
  26. 26. prioritised updates
  27. 27. contextual interviews tree testing usability tests staff interviews
  28. 28. stops you aligning design and content with the wrong user group check your IA is suitable find ways to improve higher level business processes and workflows lets business prioritise change
  29. 29. make things better
  30. 30. thank you!

Editor's Notes

  • Slide 1:

    Drupal Camp Scotland 2018 - UX research throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Slide 2:

    Alice, UX designer @ Signal

    Signal, Drupal, UX team

    My work is full spectrum

    MSc in HCI, undergrad in psychology, dancer
  • Slide 3:

    How we integrate UX research methods into the project process, a few examples, and sharing insights and helpful tips
  • Slide 4:
  • Slide 5:

    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
  • Slide 6:

    UX involved heavily in discovery phase.

    Typically this might include other members of the planning team as well to set strategy.
  • Slide 7:

    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.
  • Slide 8:

    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
  • Slide 9:

    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.

  • Slide 10:

    Felt like something to absolutely validate to ensure content direction was correct

    Charity worked in Edinburgh - ideal opportunity to visit them on-site.

    Sports session & informality. Prepared discussion guide.
  • Slide 11:

    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.
  • Slide 12:

    Best prediction of future behaviour is past behaviour

    Clear goal to help lead the discussion

    What role...
  • Slide 13:

    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?
  • Slide 14:

    Charity engagement came through personal recommendations or outreach programmes

  • Slide 15:

    In the discover phase

    Collect assumptions - any biases from the team

    Set clear a goal, manageable research goal

    Use research to validate those assumptions
  • Slide 16:

    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
  • Slide 17:

    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 supporters Individual supporters Care workers at shelters and organisations The players (to a lesser extent than we thought)
    Defining the information architecture for the site.
  • Slide 18:

    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

  • Slide 19:

    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
  • Slide 20:

    Display everything that user can see - gives all evaluative options

    Set up questions & send
  • Slide 21:

    Results panel - one of many useful views. Clear, quantitative statistics.

    Gives breakdown of complete, direct success = no changing mind
  • Slide 22:

    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
  • Slide 23:

    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
  • Slide 24:

    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
  • Slide 25:

    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
  • Slide 26:

    Goal for the staff interview portion was…

    Clear business vs user investigation - link to cyclical nature of process
  • Slide 27:

    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.
  • Slide 28:

    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

  • Slide 29:

    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
  • Slide 30:

    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
  • Slide 31:

    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.
  • Slide 32:

    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
  • Slide 33:

    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
  • Slide 34:

    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

  • Slide 35:

    Group by these, but even once grouped, you need to take the summary one step further to present back
  • Slide 36:

    Highlighted columns show the summarised view, what goes in report
  • Slide 37:

    What this mean was the research gave the client very clear areas to prioritise - both from immediate, necessary fixes, to longer-term strategy ideas.
  • Slide 38:

    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
  • Slide 39:

    When and where they’re appropriate
  • Slide 40:

    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
  • Slide 41:
  • The end.