Introduction to UX Research Methods


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Slightly revised version of the previous - this time outlining what questions are answered by each type of research.

This is the version presented to Flash Camp St. Louis (2011) and the St. Louis Sharepoint User Group (September 2011).

Published in: Design, Technology
  • Thanks for the well-detailed article, I think these are some of the most useful research techniques. We also do a lot of research-related work, so we collected the UX research methods we usually use. We also wrote about the advantages and limits of these methods. I hope it can be useful for others too:
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  • Hi Danielle
    Thanks for the wonderful presentation. Inform your Design NOT validation methods. Please explain more .
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Introduction to UX Research Methods

  1. 1. Introduction to<br />User Experience Methods<br />Introduction to User Experience Methods<br />1<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />Danielle Gobert Cooley<br />@dgcooley<br />
  2. 2. About me<br />12 years as user researcher/usability specialist<br />BE, Biomedical & Electrical Engineering<br />MS, Human Factors in Information Design<br />Selected Employers & Clients<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />2<br /><br />@dgcooley<br />
  3. 3. Important Things to Know About UX Methods<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Please Remember<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />4<br />Things to Know<br />The purpose of these methods is to inform your design. <br />They are notvalidation methods.<br />
  5. 5. Let Me Repeat That<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />5<br />Things to Know<br />The purpose of these methods is to inform your design. <br />They are not validation methods.<br />
  6. 6. You Are Not Your User<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />6<br />Things to Know<br />YOU<br />NOT YOU<br />
  7. 7. Why Do It? To Avoid Ending Up Here<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />7<br />Things to Know<br />
  8. 8. One More Thing…<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />8<br />Things to Know<br />The purpose of these methods is to inform your design. <br />They are not validation methods.<br />
  9. 9. Usability Study<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Questions It Answers*<br />How easy or difficult is it to use the product?<br />How efficiently do people use the product?<br />Do the users understand the product’s terminology?<br />Do the controls make sense?<br />Can people find the information they are seeking?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />10<br />Usability Study<br />* Depends in part on prototype fidelity … more on that in a few moments.<br />
  11. 11. How It’s Done<br />Recruit representative end users.<br />Observe impartially as they attempt to perform tasks with a prototype.<br />Typically, participants are asked to think aloud as they use the prototype to perform the tasks. This provides insight into WHY certain interface elements are confusing and what might work better.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />11<br />Usability Study<br />Tips…<br /><ul><li> Recruiting the right users is key!
  12. 12. Avoid bias everywhere – in task phrasing, your and your observers’ body language, and in verbal questions asked.
  13. 13. Recordings are great, but huge time sucks.
  14. 14. Quantitative studies often aren’t worth it. </li></li></ul><li>A Note About Prototype Fidelity<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />12<br />Usability Study<br />
  15. 15. Advantages<br />Controlled setting means easier logistics.<br />Recording and observing is easier, too.<br />For the rare quantitative study, lab-based testing makes it easier to use such tools as Morae or Ovo. <br />Lab-based testing has fewer variables to control, which can be a factor for more rigid studies.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />13<br />Usability Study<br />
  16. 16. Disadvantages<br />Lab setting provides no context of use.<br />Labs can be expensive to rent or build <br />(but they don’t have to be)<br />Participants are sometimes timid in a lab setting<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />14<br />Usability Study<br />
  17. 17. Field Study<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />15<br />
  18. 18. Questions It Answers<br />How do environmental circumstances affect the usability of the product?<br />How have people worked around issues with the product?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />16<br />Field Study<br />
  19. 19. How It’s Done<br />Recruit representative end users.<br />Observe impartially in the environment in which the product will be used as they attempt to perform tasks with a prototype.<br />Collect artifacts.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />17<br />Field Study<br />
  20. 20. Advantages<br />Gathers contextual data<br />Ambient light, noise<br />Distractions<br />Participants usually less intimidated<br />Much more convenient for participants, so recruiting can be easier<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />18<br />Field Study<br />Contextual Inquiry?<br />Though the terms are often used interchangeably, Contextual Inquiry is actually a type of field study that follows a very specific format.<br />
  21. 21. Disadvantages<br />Logistics are more difficult for researchers.<br />Observation is more challenging.<br />Recording is more challenging.<br />Security issues sometimes prohibit photographs or other recording.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />19<br />Field Study<br />
  22. 22. Card Sort<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />20<br />
  23. 23. Questions It Answers<br />How would the users organize the product’s content and features?<br />Do the users largely agree on how the content should be organized?<br />Do the users agree with the categorizations proposed by the project team?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />21<br />Card Sort<br />
  24. 24. How It’s Done<br />Recruit representative end users.<br />Identify content items to be categorized<br />Participants sort the content items into groupings that make sense to them.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />22<br />Card Sort<br />Two types …<br /><ul><li>In an OPEN card sort, participants create the categories.
  25. 25. In a CLOSED card sort, the researcher establishes the categories.</li></li></ul><li>Advantages<br />Incredibly inexpensive<br />Done very quickly with remote evaluation tools.<br />Asynchronous, so scheduling is not an issue. Participants take part at their convenience.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />23<br />Card Sort<br />
  26. 26. Disadvantages<br />More complicated with large sets of cards.<br />Really, there’s almost no reason NOT to do a card sort, unless you don’t plan to use the results.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />24<br />Card Sort<br />
  27. 27. Tree Test<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />25<br />
  28. 28. Questions It Answers<br />Can users find content in the proposed navigation?<br />Do the proposed group labels correctly reflect the content within them?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />26<br />Tree Test<br />
  29. 29. How It’s Done<br />Recruit representative end users.<br />Set up study with IA to be evaluated.<br />Give participants specific content elements to find in that architecture.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />27<br />Tree Test<br />
  30. 30. Advantages<br />Incredibly inexpensive<br />Done very quickly with remote evaluation tools.<br />Asynchronous, so scheduling is not an issue. Participants take part at their convenience.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />28<br />Tree Test<br />Yep. Just like card sorting!<br />
  31. 31. Disadvantages<br />The full IA and nav structure must be created in order to execute a tree test, so there is significant investment in the “prototype,” if you will. <br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />29<br />Tree Test<br />Tree Test vs. Card Sort<br /><ul><li>An OPEN Card Sort generates an information architecture.
  32. 32. A CLOSED Card sort usually evaluates high-level labeling.
  33. 33. A Tree Test evaluates findability in an existing information architecture.</li></ul>OK. This one IS a validation method.<br />
  34. 34. Survey<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />30<br />
  35. 35. Questions It Answers<br />What is the users’ opinion about various facets of the product?<br />How do users believe they use the product?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />31<br />Survey<br />
  36. 36. How It’s Done<br />Recruit participants<br />Write survey<br />Relax while the data rolls right in.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />32<br />Survey<br />
  37. 37. Advantages<br />Cheap<br />Fast<br />Remote<br />Easy data collection<br />Large number of participants<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />33<br />Survey<br />
  38. 38. Disadvantages<br />Data are self-reported.<br />What people do is not the same as what people SAY they do.<br />Good question curation is surprisingly challenging.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />34<br />Survey<br />
  39. 39. Expert Review<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />35<br />
  40. 40. Questions It Answers<br />Does the product comply with conventions and best practices?<br />Has the expert seen issues in the past with any of the design elements or interaction techniques used in the product?<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />36<br />Expert Review<br />
  41. 41. How It’s Done<br />An experienced UX Specialist analyzes the product, looking for common mistakes or interface elements or interactions that are not consistent with best practices.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />37<br />Expert Review<br />Heuristic Evaluation?<br />Though this term is thrown around a lot, a Heuristic Evaluation is really a specialized type of Expert Review.<br />
  42. 42. Advantages<br />Considerably less expensive than lab or field studies<br />Often relatively fast – again, as compared to lab or field studies.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />38<br />Expert Review<br />
  43. 43. Disadvantages<br />No actual end-user perspective.<br />Experts vary. <br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />39<br />Expert Review<br />
  44. 44. Other Techniques<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />40<br />
  45. 45. In No Particular Order… <br />Journaling Studies – Users keep a journal of their interactions (good and bad) with the product.<br />A/B Testing – Two different versions of a product are placed online and success rates analyzed.<br />Analytics – Web site or product metrics are analyzed to determine user success or failure.<br />Personas – Descriptive profiles of representative end users. This is actually an output of field research.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />41<br />Other<br />
  46. 46. Recap & Additional Resources<br />User Experience is important. Really.<br />These are NOT validation techniques!<br />There are a lot of methods to choose from.<br />09 September 2011 @dgcooley #FCSTL<br />42<br />Nov 2011<br />