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Open for Open Questions - UX London 2014


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Many design and usability research methods cater for delving into a focused topic: You set a goal, establish hypotheses, gather data and gain insight to help create the proof, story, a view point, strategy, or whatever you are looking for – within the given budget and time. However, there can be situations where your research may focus too much on individual ‘trees’ that it cannot provide much information about the ‘forest’. For instance, what if you have perfect usability test data to prove the effectiveness of your design, but your client may be more interested to know what types of people would buy the product (and get disappointed to hear that you don’t know)? What if your polite research participants never want to talk with you about negative things about your design? This talk will share a few anecdotes exemplifying the importance of factoring in the space when exploring broader viewpoints to the user research questions, through informal social encounters, serendipitous interactions, and activities that are designed for cross-examining their results.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

Open for Open Questions - UX London 2014

  1. 1. It’s  great  to  stand  here  –  a/er  spending  a  year  working   for  one  person  more  or  less  [maternity  leave]  –  even   though  it  was  the  greatest  interac=on  experience  ever.  I   am  interac=on  designer  by  educa=on  and  major  parts  of   my  career.   1  
  2. 2. 2  
  3. 3. But  I  have  done  a  fair  bit  of  research  along  the  way.   Depending  on  who  you  talk  to  –  there  are  many  terms   used  to  describe  the  process  that  we  go  through  to   acquire  the  informa=on  and  insights  on  people.  So  today   I  would  like  to  talk  about  what  I  like  to  remind  myself  in   planning  these  types  of  research.  Which  I  learned  from   my  own  experiences  in  the  past,  rather  than  what  I   learned  in  the  book.   3  
  4. 4. If  you  work  in  a  rela=vely  big  organiza=on,  the  news  about  a   new  research  project  is  analogous  to  that  of  a  party.  While  you   have  the  limited  =me,  money  and  resources,  people  are  all  the   more  eager  to  learn  from  your  undertaking.     Marke=ng  may  want  to  know  what  is  the  key  marke=ng   message  about  the  product  should  be,  the  roadmap  team  wants   to  know  the  demographic  informa=on  of  the  most  likely  buyers   and  rejectors  with  quan=ta=ve  evidences,  strategy  team  wants   to  know  how  this  product  performs  over  the  compe==on  in   what  way,  SW  team  and  design  teams  want  to  know  how  to   improve  the  product,  and  Finance  team  wants  to  know  the   op=mal  pricing.     4  
  5. 5. It  is  not  this  bad  all  the  =me,  but  I  did  see  a  project  geOng   named  ‘Crystal  ball’  as  there  were  a  lot  of  expecta=ons  from   this  single  study.     I  am  sure  people  manage  such  situa=ons  in  various  cunning   ways,  but  when  I  faced  situa=ons  like  this,  I  was  very  stressed   partly  because  I  was  naïve  enough  to  think  that  I  should  try  to   cater  for  everyone’s  needs.  But  soon  enough  you  become  wise   enough  that  some  combina=ons  just  won’t  work,  or  the   complexity  of  the  research  increases  to  the  extent  that  it   becomes  an  impossible  mission.     5  
  6. 6. And  what  about  people  who  par=cipate  in  your  study?  This  is   from  a  study  I  ran  a  couple  of  years  ago  for  a  brand  new   product  we  were  developing,  in  prepara=on  for  the  launch.   With  all  things  considered,  5  different  ac=vi=es  were  needed,   including  warm-­‐up.  We  had  the  9  different  features  of  this  new   product  that  we  had  to  demonstrate  to  the  par=cipants,  get   them  to  understand,  form  opinions  over  them,  and  flash  out   their  own  crea=ve  expressions  for  the  product  at  the  end.  What   does  that  mean  in  terms  of  =me?   6  
  7. 7. About  6  hours  long.  Which  is  more  than  twice  long  as  the   typical  focus  group  sessions.  Our  EVP  sent  me  a  worrying  email   if  this  would  be  a  valid  method  to  get  people  engaged  =ll  the   end.  It  is  true  that  if  you  consider  people  as  passive  par=cipants   answering  simple  ques=ons  that  most  people  won’t  be  able  to   keep  their  spirits  high  for  this  long,  without  just  going  ‘yeah,   yeah,  yeah’.     Having  used  co-­‐crea=on  methods  several  =mes  before,  I  was   confident  it  would  work.  But  this  is  the  point  where  the   research  planning  becomes  an  interac=on  design  challenge:   Keeping  people  engaged  and  intelligent  while  trying  to  cater  for   the  expecta=ons  from  the  various  stakeholders.  I  always  ask   myself:  are  we  truly  learning  the  balanced  view  from  the   research?  Is  there  any  beder  way  to  achieve  the  same?  User   research  results  for  the  early  phase  of  product  or  concept     7  
  8. 8. So  here  are  a  few  points  that  I  consider  as  reminder  for   myself  in  user  research  planning.     First  reminder  is  to  ask  yourself  if  you  get  to  understand   how  people  feel  –  in  rela=on  to  your  product  or  service.     It  may  sound  like  a  common  sense,  but  it  can  be  easily   overlooked.   8  
  9. 9. I  lived  in  India  for  2  years,  leading  Nokia  Research  Center   in  Bangalore  –  my  team  worked  on  a  number  of  projects   that  were  relevant  to  India.   9  
  10. 10. One  of  the  topics  we  picked  up  was  the  problem  of   na=ve  languages  use  in  digital  media.  India  is  an   extremely  mul=-­‐lingual  country.  There  are  more  than  1.2   billion  people  in  India,  using  more  than  122  languages.   There  are  22  official  languages  in  India  with  scripts.   There  is  no  exact  sta=s=cs  but  it  is  guessed  that  around   10%  of  popula=on  is  literate  in  English  –  though  the   number  must  be  on  the  rise.     10  
  11. 11. Indian  language  scripts  are  very  sophis=cated  –  and  have   a  very  different  wri=ng  logic.  When  alphabets  are   combined  to  form  a  syllable,  it  typically  changes  the   shape.     11  
  12. 12. So  there  is  a  considerable  difference  between   handwri=ng  and  digital  text  input.     But  in  order  to  be  able  to  type  on  ‘keyboard’,  user  needs   to  have  a  fairly  good  memory  of  the  alphabe=c  table  to   make  the  ‘combina=ons’  for  the  syllables.   12  
  13. 13. And  you  may  think  that  everyone  remembers  alphabets!   I  thought  so  as  well.   When  we  gave  the  task  of  wri=ng  alphabets  –  which  is   more  than  50  –  more  than  half  of  par=cipants  could  not   complete  the  task.  Par=cipants  were  all  educated  at   least  8  years.   13  
  14. 14. It  was  worse  on  mobile  phones  –  one  key  typically  needs   to  be  assigned  with  6-­‐8  characters.   This  lady  was  our  fixer  in  Bareily,  where  we  conducted   our  usability  study.  She  is  from  the  untouchable  cast  but   university  educated  and  could  read  and  write  English.   But  none  of  her  social  network  did.  And  hindi  in  her   phone  was  impossibly  difficult  to  use.  So  as  the  result  –   she  never  used  tex=ng  on  mobile  phone.     So  the  reality  that  we  saw  around  us  was  quite  clear:   People  do  not  use  tex=ng  in  the  local  language,  period.   What  about  Internet  in  general?  If  you  are  not  able  to   read  and  write  English,  the  world  of  Internet  is  a  very   small  place  indeed.   14  
  15. 15. We  took  on  familiarity  as  the  important  theme  of  the   design  development  –  to  minimize  the  learning  curve   and  lower  the  barrier  to  adop=on.     And  touch  screen  because  it  was  the  future  and  to  avoid   the  logis=cal  and  usability  problems  of  physical  keymat.   15  
  16. 16. So  we  ran  various  tests  with  a  wide  range  of  par=cipants   to  improve  the  design  –  from  usability  of  the  onscreen   keypad  to  the  language  content  itself.     16  
  17. 17. While  we  were  working  on  this,  Nokia  launched  a   product  called  Nokia  C3  in  2010.  It  sold  very  well   especially  in  India.  However  we  heard  that  there  were  a   lot  of  complaints  about  Qwerty  with  Hindi  keymat  print.       17  
  18. 18. The  product  had  the  Inscript  Hindi  input,  which  is  the   government  standard  for  qwerty  keyboard.  While  the   minority  of  consumers  who  were  able  to  use  Inscript   welcomed  the  product,  the  majority  found  it  annoying.   On  one  hand,  each  key  became  too  crowded  and  made  it   extra  difficult  to  find  the  key  you  want.     But  the  real  underlying  reason  seemed  to  be  that  buyers   of  this  product  do  not  want  to  be  seen  that  they  need   Hindi.  Implying  that  they  can  communicate  in  English,   which  is  a  thing  to  be  proud  of.  We  ended  up  recalling   the  product,  replacing  the  keymat  with  just  English.   18  
  19. 19. Of  course,  a/er  this  we  got  a  lot  of  ques=ons  if  it  is  worthy  of  inves=ng  in   na=ve  language  input  tool.  But  as  we  have  been  asking  our  varied   par=cipants  to  the  study  how  this  would  change  their  life  –  we  were   luckily  well  equipped  for  the  answers,  even  though  it  was  not  a  major   ques=on  when  we  were  planning  the  usability  research.   There  was  a  strong  sen=ment  that  it’s  a  language  that  enable   communica=on  with  their  most  close  families,  but  the  need  to  use  it  on   mobile  phone  was  marginal.  We  saw  it  as  a  chicken  and  egg  problem.   Literary  professionals  saw  this  giving  a  great  educa=onal  value.  So  we   were  able  to  pitch  it  to  the  product  team  that  it’s  one  of  the  priority   implementa=on  for  Asha  touch  product  line.  But  we  agreed  that  there   would  be  no  marke=ng  around  it.     19  
  20. 20. Second  reminder  is  honesty.     Are  you  allowing  people  to  express  their  real  opinions?  It   may  be  honesty,  but  some=mes  it  can  be  about  helping   par=cipants  to  express  themselves  beder.   20  
  21. 21. We  ran  a  project  with  30  farmers  in  rural  India,  from  2   separate  communi=es.  They  were  ‘progressive  farmers’   who  were  very  open  to  trying  new  farming  methods   developed  by  the  agricultural  university.   21  
  22. 22. We  were  tes=ng  a  simple  app  that  connects  farmers  to  a   voice  message  box  to  ask  their  ques=ons  to  experts  in   the  university  called  ‘Kisan’  (which  means  farmer).   Experts  can  access  the  recorded  ques=ons,  then   publishes  the  answer  in  text  through  the  app,  which   becomes  visible  to  all  par=cipants.     22  
  23. 23. The  trial  went  on  for  almost  two  months.  There  were   several  interviews  along  the  way  by  our  team  and  the   university  researchers.  We  were  planning  to  host  a  joint   workshop  with  all  the  par=cipants  at  the  end  to  discuss   and  ideate  how  we  can  approach  mobile  informa=on   system  for  rural  communi=es.     It  was  great  to  hear  the  posi=ve  stories  –  all  farmers  we   talked  to  shared  how  they  benefited  from  the  Kisan  and   some  suggested  addi=onal  categories  to  add.   23  
  24. 24. I  don’t  know  what  you  imagine  when  you  hear  ‘Indian   farmers’  but  my  first  impression  was  that  they  were   extremely  polite.     We  were  mostly  met  with  a  farmer  who  was  in  clean,   crisp,  white  clothes.   24  
  25. 25. When  we  visit  the  house  the  room  was  always  prepared   for  us.  And  this  farmer…   25  
  26. 26. …prepared  snacks  for  us  when  we  visited  his  home  all  by   himself  –  as  his  wife  and  children  were  away.  This  put   smiles  on  my  face.       But  maybe  it  was  my  distorted  personality  –  I  started  to   get  worried  that  I  was  only  hearing  posi=ve  feedback  on   the  system.  It  was  also  because  how  farmers  generally   talked.  They  liked  to  talk  on  a  very  high  level,  and  it  was   quite  difficult  to  get  to  the  details  of  the  interac=on  or   any  other  ‘minor’  issues.  They  were  happy  that  they   solved  quite  a  few  problems  with  Kisan  prototype   service  that  otherwise  would  have  taken  much  more   efforts  from  them  to  solve.     26  
  27. 27. So  the  day  before  our  workshop  day,  I  made  a  special   prepara=on.     This  was  the  venue  of  the  workshop…   27  
  28. 28. Blue  badges…   28  
  29. 29. And  red  badges.  Folded  and  stapled  in  the  hotel  room  the  day  before  in  a  hurry.   29  
  30. 30. Blue  team  member   30  
  31. 31. Red  team  members.   31  
  32. 32. We  made  a  debate  task  in  the  workshop.  Red  and  blue   teams  had  to  come  up  with  arguments  that  supported   the  statement  given  in  their  color.     This  way,  people  could  poten=ally  raise  the  most   nega=ve  and  bold  opinions  with  necessary  details   without  feeling  socially  unaccepted.       /  Each  team  was  given  10  min  to  construct  their   argument  to  present  for  each  statement.   32  
  33. 33. So  it  started  off  fairly  quiet….   33  
  34. 34. But  quickly  the  mood  started  to  heat  up…     34  
  35. 35. And  the  professor  from  the  agricultural  university  had  to   come  in  the  middle  to  mediate.   35  
  36. 36. As  you  can  see  more  than  one  person  started  to  stand   up  wan=ng  to  speak…   36  
  37. 37. Our  dear  professor  had  to  calm  a  few  too  excited   farmers   37  
  38. 38. We  had  very  passionate  speakers  as  well  –  while  the   transla=on  was  a  real  challenge  for  me  to  catch  up  what   was  being  said  -­‐  I  was  almost  feeling  like  this  could  be   the  atmosphere  in  an  elec=on  campaign  here…     38  
  39. 39. At  the  end  we  asked  people  to  vote  for  their  real   personal  opinions.  It  was  very  clear  that  people’s   opinions  were  quite  divided  indeed,  but  the  debate   ac=vated  them  to  talk  about  barriers  to  adop=ons  and   difficul=es  that  they  feel  they  will  face  if  the  service  was   real  –  without  any  social  s=gma  that  they  were  impolite   to  us  or  to  university  staffs.     For  instance,  while  people  wanted  the  informa=on   system  to  connect  them  to  a  wider  geographical  area   and  possibly  all  over  India  –  the  issue  of  languages  came   out  high  as  barrier  to  cross-­‐state  communica=on.   Availability  of  the  mobile  phone  and  the  cost  of  using  the   service  was  another  hot  topic.   39  
  40. 40. And  we  ended  the  day  with  a  small  gi/  and  leder  of   apprecia=on  giving  ceremony.   40  
  41. 41. Plus  the  obligatory  group  photo  shoot.  I  was  very  happy  to  see  the   par=cipants  having  fun  –  as  they  should  and  the  day  ended  in  high   energy.       But  having  fun,  high  energy  in  the  session  does  not  always  warrant  a   good  learning  from  the  session.     Honesty  is  a  difficult  one  in  user  research.  Your  results  may  be  deeply   influenced  by  it  but  you  would  never  know.  This  may  sound  lame  but  you   need  to  follow  your  ‘gut  ins=nct’  in  judging  the  situa=on  if  you  need   further  ac=ons  to  either  make  people  feel  relaxed  about  expressing  their   opinions,  or  help  their  expressions.   41  
  42. 42. Third  reminder  is  that  some=mes  it  is  beneficial  to  plan   specifically  to  bring  in  unexpected  insights  that  could  fall   way  outside  your  radar.  I  would  like  to  describe  it  as  ‘DIY   research  for  the  par=cipants’  –  with  the  minimum   interven=on.  This  approach  can  be  beneficial  especially   when  you  don’t  know  what  you  don’t  know.     42  
  43. 43. We  were  studying  how  people  outside  the  benefits   of  major  technology  development  several  years  ago   –  before  we  established  ‘the  internet  to  the  next   billion  strategy’  with  very  affordable  mobile  phones.   We  chose  3  ci=es,  
  44. 44. And  3  communi=es  within  those  ci=es.  There  was  very  lidle  known  about   their  technology  use  among  shanty  town  residents.    
  45. 45. While  the  main  team  was  busy  doing  contextual  interviews,  our  ‘fringe’  ac=vity  had  a   simple  mission:  Make  an  open  studio  for  the  design  compe==on.  The  theme  was  to   design  your  ideal  mobile  phone.   45  
  46. 46. So  we  partnered  with  local  organiza=ons  to  run  a  mobile   phone  design  compe==on  in  the  community.       Mumbai  team  came  up  with  a  slogan  “Design  a  phone,   Get  a  phone”.  Despite  the  harsh  rainy  season,  the  team   went  around  in  all  parts  of  Dharavi  to  hand  out  the   informa=on.    
  47. 47. In  Mumbai,  we  hired  a  photo  studio  to  be  the  hub      
  48. 48. And  in  Rio  –  we  worked  with  a  NGO  that  was  doing   computer  aided  design  educa=on     Rio  team  came  up  with  a  slogan  “Tá  na  hora  de  criar,  seu   telefone  cellular”,  which  translates  in  English:  its  about   =me,  to  create  your  cellphone.    
  49. 49. Local  team  came  up  with  graffi=  wall  paper,  logo  flyers   and  even  a  song.  
  50. 50. In  Accra,  within  the  Liberian  refugee  camp,  we  worked  with  an   NGO  offering  computer  courses.     Buduburam  team  came  up  with  a  slogan  “Your  dream  phone,   share  it  with  the  world”.  The  promo=on  was  done  through   banners  placed  in  the  key  areas  of  the  camp  and  the  radio   sta=on  adver=sement,  which  was  very  effec=ve.  The  local  NGO   called  MOPGEL  offered  the  space,  which  was  normally  used  for   computer  courses.     //  The  first  proposal  was  “Refugees  are  human,  Nokia  is   interested  in  their  opinions”  –  and  we  had  to  turn  it  down  as   we  didn’t  allow  the  word  Nokia  in  the  slogan.    
  51. 51. Par=cipa=on  was  simple  –  people  can  just  go  in  to  the  studio  space  and  fill  in  this   entry  form.  The  local  team  helped  those  who  needed  help  with  wri=ng  and   interviewed  the  par=cipants  to  make  sure  we  understand  the  idea  beyond  what  was   wriden  in  the  form.   51  
  52. 52. To  show  you  some  examples  what  this  brought:   This  19-­‐yo  student/social  worker  wants  to  change  the   world,  especially  leading  young  people  to  the  right   direc=on.  His  idea  is  that  all  entertainment  systems  will   be  in  one  phone  –  including  a  virtual  blond  psychologist   wearing  a  bikini  who  can  answer  any  doubts  and  keeps   people  updated  about  cultural  events  in  town.   This  resonated  well  with  the  sen=ment  in  the   community  that  urged  adults  to  keep  their  children   indoors,  away  from  poten=ally  bad  influences  and   violence  on  the  street.  And  possibly  the  blond  in  bikini.  
  53. 53. This  is  a  phone  that  had  a  split  screen  so  that  he  can   easily  no=ce  calls  from  overseas.  As  a  refugee,  he  relied   on  funds  sent  from  his  remote  rela=ves  in  the  US,  so  he   was  very  keen  not  to  miss  any  calls  from  them.   53  
  54. 54. This  idea  from  Dharavi  is  about  being  able  to  get  the  weather  forecast  by  simply   poin=ng  the  phone  at  the  sky.  It  brought  up  a  lot  of  debates  among  the  jury  members   –  the  local  design  students.  Some  argued  that  the  weather  informa=on  is  available   already  and  there  is  no  innova=on  around  it.  But  what  won  the  argument  was  the   fact  that  this  idea  was  highly  relevant  for  the  local  residents  in  the  community.  They   had  largely  weather-­‐dependent  professions,  and  most  people  did  not  know  how  to   access  mobile  internet  to  get  the  weather  informa=on.  So  making  the  informa=on   access  as  intui=ve  as  possible  would  be  beneficial  –  and  it’s  actually  technically   feasible  now.    
  55. 55. Lots  of  ideas  around  mul=ple  SIM  card  use  as  well.   This  ‘Golden  Mobile’  has  two  SIM  slots,  golden  to  be  no=ced  among  the  crowd,  and   got  plasma  charger.   55  
  56. 56. This  one  is  a  star  shaped  mobile  that  can  host  4  SIM   cards.     There  were  no  mul=ple  SIM  card  phones  in  the  market   except  small  Chinese  vendors.  There  were  repeated   evidences  like  these  entries  that  people  wanted  mul=ple   SIM  card  phone  so  that  they  can  save  the   communica=on  cost,  and  mi=gate  the  frequent  network   problems.  While  we  were  feeling  that  it  is  one  of  the   trends  we  should  highlight,  this  submission  put  a  nail  to   that  need.   56  
  57. 57. So  we  decided  to  invest  a  bit  more  on  that  topic  while   we  were  in  Accra,  interviewing  various  people  on  the   topic  of  mul=ple  SIMs.   We  even  found  a  service  that  s=tched  your  SIM  cards   together.     Photo:  Those  who  use  more  than  1  mobile  phone   numbers  &  SIM  card  combining  service  operator  shop,   Buduburam  (Ghana),  Younghee  Jung  &  Nokia.  2007  
  58. 58. What  was  remarkable  with  a  par=cipant  like  him  was  the   incredible  amount  of  =me  they  invested  in  submiOng   their  ideas.     Some  visited  the  studio  several  =mes,  discussed  ideas   with  their  friends.  It  was  possible  because  it  was  their   own  ini=a=ve  and  drive.     There  was  of  course  rewards  promised  for  winners,  but  I   felt  that  the  real  mo=va=on  was  the  recogni=on  of  their   ability  and  the  opportunity  to  be  heard.  
  59. 59. We  planned  the  Open  Studios  to  be  a  complementary  research  source  as   we  were  faced  with  communi=es  that  we  did  not  have  much  informa=on   on  beforehand.  Running  parallel  ac=vi=es  while  we  were  on  the  field   allowed  us  to  have  a  broader  view  than  what  we  ini=ally  set  to  ‘find  out’   but  also  allows  us  to  cross  reference  informa=on  as  we  were  learning.     And  it  is  cri=cal  to  work  with  the  real  local  people  to  make  street  surveys   and  Open  Studios  type  of  methods  work.   I  like  to  call  this  type  of  open-­‐ended  ac=vi=es  as  ‘scou=ng  project’.  It’s   not  to  answer  any  ques=ons  within  your  hypothesis,  but  to  broaden  your   eyes  and  minds.  And  if  you  are  lucky,  you  get  to  meet  really  interes=ng   people  to  bring  to  deep  dives  or  contextual  interviews.   59  
  60. 60. Fourth  reminder  is  to  always  try  to  look  at  the  forest   over  trees.  I  am  currently  working  in  a  new  func=on  of   product  marke=ng  that  works  with  design  and  technical   teams  to  conceptualize  new  products.  So  we  are  o/en  in   the  posi=on  to  run  the  market  research  to  test  if  the   consumer  value  proposi=on  holds  in  various  markets.     60  
  61. 61. To  confess,  the  6  hour  long  session  was  one  of  the   research  projects  I  ran  for  the  marke=ng  team.  As  it   involved  a  real  product  to  launch,  there  was  a  lot  of   pressure  to  answer  very  specific  ques=ons  –  such  as   coming  up  with  consumer  value  proposi=ons  with   priori=zed  list  of  key  selling  points,  insights  on  pricing,   and  improvements  to  the  product.     61  
  62. 62. Par=cipants  go  through  various  ways  to  think  about  the  product  and  its  features…   seeing  the  demo   62  
  63. 63. Various  demonstra=ons   63  
  64. 64. And  making  their  own  presenta=on  about  it   64  
  65. 65. And  we  ask  them  to  keep  a  workbook  so  that  they  can  keep  track  of  what  they  have   gone  through  and  we  can  keep  track  of  what  they  have  been  thinking  and  how  they   put  it  in  their  own  words.   65  
  66. 66. And  there  is  always  a  tempta=on  to  get  a  stat  within  the  room  –  with  a   simple  method  like  ranking  the  votes.     The  challenge  here  is  that  ideas  were  introduced  to  people  all  at  once   with  lidle  real  experiences  to  really  understand  what  it  means  to  them.  It   means  that  people  can  change  their  minds  throughout  the  session.  We   try  to  probe  it  in  various  ways  like  individual  ra=ng,  ranking  exercise,  or   just  observing  how  people  ask  ques=ons  and  summarize  the  concept.  But   where  do  we  put  more  weight  on?  How  do  we  analyze  what  resonated   most  for  the  par=cipants?     One  of  my  favorite  methods  in  such  situa=ons  is  to  employ  an   improvisa=onal  ac=ng  task.  We  asked  the  par=cipant  that  they  could   choose  anyone  in  the  room  to  be  their  ‘imaginary  friend’.     66  
  67. 67. (And  of  course  I  was  chosen  first…  so  beware  that  you  may  need  to  act  as  well!)   67  
  68. 68. I  brought  here  an  example  video.  This  ac=ng  ac=vity  was  done  a/er  they  went   through  the  series  of  exercises  to  understand  and  rate  the  individual  features  of  the   product.     This  20  year  old  university  student  chose  our  local  colleague  from  Nokia  office  to  be   her  ‘imaginary  friend’.     -­‐-­‐-­‐  The  girl’s  ra=ng  of  the  experiences  had  very  lidle  to  do  with  what  she  was  saying  in   this  video  to  our  local  colleague  (who  turned  to  be  her  temporary  boyfriend  in   ac=on).  Dual  SIM  and  instant  social  updates  were  her  selling  points.  My  colleague   tries  to  push  and  push  but  her  two  key  points  were  very  clear.  Why  did  she  not  score   these  highly  in  the  earlier  exercises?  And  how  do  you  conclude  on  the  result?  This  is  I   say  the  reason  why  we  are  worthy  of  keeping  our  job  –  as  it’s  not  so  bleeding   obvious.  It’s  a  call  of  the  researcher  to  be  ready  to  analyze  and  extract  insights  from   these  seeming  inconsistent  outcome.  If  it  were  for  marke=ng  communica=on,  you   may  infer  the  communica=on  challenge  to  the  brand  new  features  that  people  are   not  yet  familiar  with  how  to  name  the  experiences.  And  instead  of  following  any  of   the  numbers  that  seemed  to  have  been  produced  from  the  study,  I  would  follow  your   strategy  and  invest  in  how  to  make  it  more  memorable.     68  
  69. 69. Looking  back  at  my  early  days  of  working  as  interac=on  designer,  I   considered  usability  research  and  user  research  more  like  a  scien=fic   work  that  needs  to  follow  a  strict  protocol  and  make  the  condi=ons  as   equal  as  possible  among  par=cipants.  But  over  the  years  I  realized  that  it   is  an  art  AND  a  design  challenge  itself  how  you  engage  people.  Also  you   need  to  be  prepared  to  answer  various  ques=ons  a/erwards  that  can  fall   outside  your  ini=al  hypothesis.     Ironically  I  don’t  always  advocate  user  research.  On  the  contrary,  I  have   seen  so  many  instances  where  what  the  teams  needed  was  a  strong   vision  and  leader  rather  than  a  consumer  research  data  to  make  the   decision  for  them.  So  ask  yourself  if  you  really  need  user  research,  or   more  design  explora=ons,  asking  your  colleague’s  opinions,  or  a  belief.       69  
  70. 70. If  used  wisely  –  user  research  is  a  good  tool  like  doctor’s  stethoscope.  It’s  ul=mately   up  to  you  to  decide  what  course  of  treatments  will  be  needed.   If  you  are  a  good,  experienced  doctor,  you  probably  don’t  rely  on  this  tool  too  much,   and  are  able  to  tell  a  lot  about  the  pa=ent’s  symptom  by  just  looking  or  talking  to  him   or  her.  That’s  the  ul=mate  art  we  acquire  as  we  increase  our  experience  in  the   domain.     I  have  always  worked  in  a  big  corporate  environment  so  I  do  some=mes  get  the   comment  that  we  are  lucky  to  be  able  to  run  user  research  at  all.  I  know  I  have  been   lucky  to  choose  certain  research  topics  purely  for  explora=on,  but  we  were  never   exempt  from  the  =me  and  budget  constraints  either.  User  research  does  not  have  to   be  a  big  project  that  you  set  up  formally  with  par=cipants  you  pay  for.  Some=mes  I   ask  my  colleagues,  or  their  friends  and  family  to  come  and  try  out  our  product  or   designs.  If  your  users  are  not  some  thousands  miles  away  speaking  different   languages,  you  have  no  excuse  if  your  project  really  needs  people  to  give  feedback   and  inspire  you.  It’s  your  aOtude  to  care,  not  a  budget  or  =me  that  determines  how   much  insights  from  people  you  can  infuse  your  design  with.     I  hope  those  of  you  who  will  be  involved  in  user/design/consumer/market  research  in   any  way  will  make  their  journey  a  lidle  more  enjoyable  and  insigh{ul  by  being  ready   for  open  ques=ons.   70  
  71. 71. 71