1
Get out of the lab
and into the
REAL WORLD
James Chudley
This is a case study taken from
a client project I worked on la...
2
I work at cxpartners
@chudders
I run large UCD and research
projects at cxpartners, a UX
consultancy based in Bristol.
3
I’m fortunate to work with companies like
@chudders
I’m lucky to get to work with
the great and the good, helping
the to...
4
‘I would happily
never conduct
research in the
lab ever again’
@chudders
5
Let me tell you a story
@chudders
I was asked by a client to
benchmark the usability of their
ecommerce site. They sold
...
6
A day with a delivery driver
@chudders
I spent a day with a delivery driver
and got to meet all sorts of
customers. It m...
7
Default position isn’t going to work
I usually conduct my user
research in some sort of lab
environment. It’s a convenie...
8
What the hell am I going to do?!
There was no way I could get 83
years olds to come into the lab,
what the hell was I go...
9
...so I worried about
Their computers won’t
work properly
My client won’t be
able to see anything
How am I going to
reco...
10
...so what happened?
The research was a truly
wonderful and memorable
experience. My client came
with me and we got a g...
11
Recruitment worked in a similar way to lab research
How will recruitment work?
My client recruited people via a
survey ...
12
My client got a perfect viewing experience
My client won’t be able to see anything
My client came with me so had
a bett...
13
Their computers didn’t work properly, this was good
Their computers won’t work properly
@chudders
We saw all sorts of i...
14
You can get to more people in a day than you think
How can this work within the budgeted time?
With a bit of careful pr...
15
I didn’t get eaten, which was good
What about rabid dogs?
@chudders
People who had dogs and other
pets just kept them o...
16
How am I going to record
stuff?
I didn’t record anything and it didn’t matter
How am I going to
record everything?
@chu...
17
People welcomed us into their homes
Is it ok to go into a 80 year olds house?
People expected us and were
very welcomin...
18
What did I
learn?
@chudders
19
Go in mixed pairs
Going in pairs is safer, and if
you are in mixed pairs its less
threatening than two males for
exampl...
20
Do a dry run (in a suitable environment)
Our dry run was invaluable to
work out who would do what
and also what it was ...
21
Get to know people before you visit them
I called everyone beforehand to
check on logistical things and
also to get to ...
22
Have a plan for if it all goes wrong
I took a spare laptop with a wifi
dongle so we could switch to
that if their compu...
23
Lean on your recruiter to make it work
Our recruiters really helped
with the planning of the
sessions, they worked out ...
24
Keep sessions to an hour (or less)
I kept sessions to an hour as
that it what I usually do in the
lab. It felt like a s...
25
Prepare for the unexpected
When going into peoples
houses you are likely to see
some ‘different’ things (like
100’s of ...
26
If you can take photos....
If you take photos make sure
you shoot wide to get people in
their environments. If you are
...
27
Take your client with you
I loved having my client with
me, she had a great experience
and it gave her loads of stories...
28
...benefits of this
approach...
@chudders
29
You see things you won’t see in the lab
@chudders
This is the whole point of this
technique. You will see their
own kit...
30
People are surrounded by distractions
In one home our session was
interrupted by all of these
things, another great rem...
31
Loads of informal time with client
I got loads of extra time to chat
through what I was seeing with
my client. I wouldn...
32
It’s more natural, ‘users’ put you at
ease as opposed to other way round
Because I went to peoples
homes they made an e...
33
Wonderful experience, truly memorable (empathy)
The people you meet are far
more memorable because you
attach their hom...
34
‘This is knackering isn’t it!’
A client remarked to me recently
how tiring it is being sat in the
dark watching endless...
35
No distractions in the observation room like email etc.
There are lots of distractions in
the observation room that
mak...
36
Amazing experience for client
This approach provided a great
experience for my client. She
saw the problems first hand ...
37
...problems I found
with this
approach...
@chudders
38
More complicated to organise
Home visits took longer to plan
that a comparative lab study
would have taken.
39
Harder to have spare participants
Luckily everyone was available
when they said they would be so
we didn’t need to use ...
40
Harder to manage the clients experience
It was so much more chaotic
than testing in the lab. You lose
control over the ...
41
Extra time to do research
We managed 4 in a day whereas
I will usually do 6 in the lab so
the research took longer as a...
42
...in summary...
@chudders
43
Going to peoples homes is not the point,
go to where they are using your stuff
as above! If you are designing
an app to...
44
Just getting out of the office can be really useful
We are all guilty of sitting in our
own offices too much and not
ve...
45
Use a blended approach if you need to
Why not try a few home visits
combined with lab research if
it’s a struggle to co...
46
Just question your default approach to keep work fresh & interesting
Professionally speaking it’s
good to change the wa...
47
These might be helpful
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
‘Definitive and complete UX book
for practitioners and clients’
@chudders
Smashing UX ...
48
Thankyou!So please try to get out of the lab more
often and into the real world
I’ve summarised this into an
article on...
49
Thanks !
@chudders
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Get out of the lab and into the real world

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This is my presentation from UXCambridge 2013.

Last year I found myself working on a user research project that made me try a new approach to user research.

Typically I conduct my research in the lab but given the average age of my users was 83 I needed to go to their homes.

This approach threw up all manner of new challenges. In this presentation I talk about how I overcame them and how by the end of it I never wanted to test in the lab again.

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Get out of the lab and into the real world

  1. 1 Get out of the lab and into the REAL WORLD James Chudley This is a case study taken from a client project I worked on last year. I hope it will change the way you think about your user research.
  2. 2 I work at cxpartners @chudders I run large UCD and research projects at cxpartners, a UX consultancy based in Bristol.
  3. 3 I’m fortunate to work with companies like @chudders I’m lucky to get to work with the great and the good, helping the to design great digital products.
  4. 4 ‘I would happily never conduct research in the lab ever again’ @chudders
  5. 5 Let me tell you a story @chudders I was asked by a client to benchmark the usability of their ecommerce site. They sold frozen ready meals to customers of an average age of 83.
  6. 6 A day with a delivery driver @chudders I spent a day with a delivery driver and got to meet all sorts of customers. It made me wonder if any of them would order online due to their age and health.
  7. 7 Default position isn’t going to work I usually conduct my user research in some sort of lab environment. It’s a convenient and reliable method that works well.
  8. 8 What the hell am I going to do?! There was no way I could get 83 years olds to come into the lab, what the hell was I going to do?!
  9. 9 ...so I worried about Their computers won’t work properly My client won’t be able to see anything How am I going to record stuff? What about rabid dogs? Is it ok to go into a 80 year olds house? How can I do this within the budgeted time? How will recruitment work?
  10. 10 ...so what happened? The research was a truly wonderful and memorable experience. My client came with me and we got a great insight into her customers lives.
  11. 11 Recruitment worked in a similar way to lab research How will recruitment work? My client recruited people via a survey and we got our recruiter to screen them as we usually would for lab research.
  12. 12 My client got a perfect viewing experience My client won’t be able to see anything My client came with me so had a better experience than she would have had in the lab.
  13. 13 Their computers didn’t work properly, this was good Their computers won’t work properly @chudders We saw all sorts of issues with peoples computers that had an impact upon how they used the website. This was fascinating!
  14. 14 You can get to more people in a day than you think How can this work within the budgeted time? With a bit of careful pre- planning we worked out a great route with google maps that got us to 4 people per day.
  15. 15 I didn’t get eaten, which was good What about rabid dogs? @chudders People who had dogs and other pets just kept them out of our way.
  16. 16 How am I going to record stuff? I didn’t record anything and it didn’t matter How am I going to record everything? @chudders I abandoned trying to record things, my client was there so it didn’t matter too much and I got good notes.
  17. 17 People welcomed us into their homes Is it ok to go into a 80 year olds house? People expected us and were very welcoming. They really enjoyed the novelty of ‘someone from the website’ taking the time to hear their views.
  18. 18 What did I learn? @chudders
  19. 19 Go in mixed pairs Going in pairs is safer, and if you are in mixed pairs its less threatening than two males for example.
  20. 20 Do a dry run (in a suitable environment) Our dry run was invaluable to work out who would do what and also what it was like going into someones home to do this kind of research.
  21. 21 Get to know people before you visit them I called everyone beforehand to check on logistical things and also to get to know people.
  22. 22 Have a plan for if it all goes wrong I took a spare laptop with a wifi dongle so we could switch to that if their computers broke (which they did).
  23. 23 Lean on your recruiter to make it work Our recruiters really helped with the planning of the sessions, they worked out some of the tricky logistical stuff for us.
  24. 24 Keep sessions to an hour (or less) I kept sessions to an hour as that it what I usually do in the lab. It felt like a suitable time to be in someone elses homes for too.
  25. 25 Prepare for the unexpected When going into peoples houses you are likely to see some ‘different’ things (like 100’s of fairies - don’t ask!) You have to suck it up and crack on.
  26. 26 If you can take photos.... If you take photos make sure you shoot wide to get people in their environments. If you are in pairs then get the non facilitator to take the photos.
  27. 27 Take your client with you I loved having my client with me, she had a great experience and it gave her loads of stories to share with her colleagues.
  28. 28 ...benefits of this approach... @chudders
  29. 29 You see things you won’t see in the lab @chudders This is the whole point of this technique. You will see their own kit and how they use it together with the workarounds they employ to get stuff done.
  30. 30 People are surrounded by distractions In one home our session was interrupted by all of these things, another great reminder of the realities of everyday usage environments.
  31. 31 Loads of informal time with client I got loads of extra time to chat through what I was seeing with my client. I wouldn’t have got this had I done the research in the lab.
  32. 32 It’s more natural, ‘users’ put you at ease as opposed to other way round Because I went to peoples homes they made an effort to make me comfortable. In the lab you spend a lot of time doing this to compensate for an artificial environment.
  33. 33 Wonderful experience, truly memorable (empathy) The people you meet are far more memorable because you attach their homes with their faces in your memory. This makes it easier to design for them because your level of empathy for them is greater.
  34. 34 ‘This is knackering isn’t it!’ A client remarked to me recently how tiring it is being sat in the dark watching endless sessions, why do we use a technique that tires our clients out?!
  35. 35 No distractions in the observation room like email etc. There are lots of distractions in the observation room that make it hard to focus on the research. My client was 100% focussed because she was sat next to her customers.
  36. 36 Amazing experience for client This approach provided a great experience for my client. She saw the problems first hand and had already worked out her priority list of things to fix before we got home.
  37. 37 ...problems I found with this approach... @chudders
  38. 38 More complicated to organise Home visits took longer to plan that a comparative lab study would have taken.
  39. 39 Harder to have spare participants Luckily everyone was available when they said they would be so we didn’t need to use our spares. Had certain people dropped out we would have struggled.
  40. 40 Harder to manage the clients experience It was so much more chaotic than testing in the lab. You lose control over the experience your client has (if that’s a problem).
  41. 41 Extra time to do research We managed 4 in a day whereas I will usually do 6 in the lab so the research took longer as a result.
  42. 42 ...in summary... @chudders
  43. 43 Going to peoples homes is not the point, go to where they are using your stuff as above! If you are designing an app to score squash matches with then test it out at the local squash court!
  44. 44 Just getting out of the office can be really useful We are all guilty of sitting in our own offices too much and not venturing outdoors.
  45. 45 Use a blended approach if you need to Why not try a few home visits combined with lab research if it’s a struggle to convince your decision makers.
  46. 46 Just question your default approach to keep work fresh & interesting Professionally speaking it’s good to change the way you do things every so often. It keeps you fresh and ensures you are continually learning.
  47. 47 These might be helpful ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ‘Definitive and complete UX book for practitioners and clients’ @chudders Smashing UX Design has a dedicated chapter on contextual research. My photo book will help you plan your photos so they help you to tell stories.
  48. 48 Thankyou!So please try to get out of the lab more often and into the real world I’ve summarised this into an article on UX Magazine too so do check that out.
  49. 49 Thanks ! @chudders

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