Abstract for session referenced on the site: Clearly nowadays we have moved beyond a paradigm of purely assessing 'usability'; usability is now a hygiene factor for all technology (...even if a poorly realized one a lot of the time). We are starting to understand the role of fun and delight in users interactions - but how do we adequately tap into this mental space when we are often under the pressure of 'no time' and clients that feel they just don't see the benefit in lengthy contextual research that allows us to better tap into the users day-to-day world. Jodie will discuss how we can capture a little slice of a users life when they come to us by setting up effective homework and 'pre-testing' activities for them to complete that allow us to dig a little deeper into their psyche and mental frameworks, around how they view the world and what makes them tick; allowing us to better design and construct environments that meet their needs.
Nothing beats watching a user in their natural environment and settings – personally I love this type of research Things that users feel might be irrelevant, or of no use, are there for you to see and investigate The participant is in their own home and showing you a slice of their life and ways they engage with any number of things that might be important to you – or might not…
Usability as a method of research has proved itself to many in the corporate world Clients are more open to the benefits of ‘user-testing’ at different stages of a product development lifecycle – and we have seen a real change in expectation over the last 10 years – there is less convincing of the benefits of user experience research nowadays… … however, some are still hesitant to look into contextual research or field studies - considering these ‘frivolous’ when budgets are tight… Some clients are more comfortable opting for ‘standard user-testing’ – they understand this stuff now… Unfortunately for us – it sometimes takes a bit more effort to convince some clients of the value of ethnography…can they even say it? Many are scared of these types of methods and an assumption I am making is that most of us get face-time with users is in user-based testing …so how do we get more from these encounters?
Clearly any opportunity to engage with a user while researching a product is a golden one! And user-based testing is a valuable means to engage with our users …but we do need to focus on how we can increase our access to a users deeper emotional thought processes while we are engaging with them. There are many ways you can do this of course – and I am sure many of you do already… So today I’m chatting about just one way we have found really works well as a means to engage with users in a more ‘creative’ way In order to tap into some of these deeper emotional thought processes and gain more insight to a users context of use - regardless of the method we are interacting with them… For me, it is about trying to introduce a little bit of ‘creative ethnography’ into the context of user-based evaluation, interviews or design workshops / focus groups … .today I’ll tell you a bit about how we collect this type of data regardless of method even though I have focused on user testing in my assumptions . The results have many surprising benefits…
so nowadays we need to look further than just ‘ease of use’… many have started to acknowledge the importance of understanding emotion, fun and delight in relation to design. But to understand how to tap into that in any of our user engagements - we need to discuss a bit of psychology first… and that leads us to consider the brain …
I think I tweeted a quote a little while back that said something along the lines of: “ I used to think my brain was the best organ in my body… … then I remembered who was telling me that…” It is funny…makes you think doesn’t it? … How do we tap into the users mind more effectively?
The effect of the mind set when you enter a situation can have a powerful effect on your responses, thoughts and behaviours This was noted in Ralph Metzner’s book ‘The Psychedelic Experience’ that was based on “the Tibetan Book of the Dead”… And Timothy Leary is probably best known for having studied this in the context of drug taking… In the book they suggest that the nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting . In this context… Set refers to the individual, including their personality structure and mood at the time. Setting is more physical and somewhat out of the users control – like the weather, the room's atmosphere, the environment generally While UX may not seem to be analogous to drug culture, the influence of set and setting on our users is at least worth considering
Set and setting are important and relevant to user-testing because… Set is the person’s mind-set Setting is the environment Who has dealt with users who come in and are nervous; thought they’d be in a group setting, are put off by the fact it is ‘just them’ And we are hoping to get honest and open feedback here! … focusing on the mind set of users and the tasks we are getting them to do caused us to consider what are we really tapping into here?
… so what does user-based testing focus upon and let’s think about where emotion and delight sit in this context…
Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favour left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain ones
To foster a more whole-brained experience, we should use instruction techniques that connect with both sides of the brain. Generally speaking, we learn/are rewarded for left brain dominance at school and this is usually reinforced and rewarded in the working world (depending on our role, organisation etc). A book by Richard Florida called “the Rise of the Creative Class” points points out the innovation and productivity benefits of traditional business institutions like banks, law firms and accounting firms engaging arts graduates to help reinvent their appeal to customers, by viewing process through a whole different set of values and expectations. His book centres on complacency of challenging the known as you become institutionalised in your thinking. This often explains how we develop/bias for one of the other in our minds… For a more accurate whole-brained evaluations in some of the more traditional UCD settings – like user-based testing - we should develop new forms of assessment that honour right-brained talents and skills too
Don Norman did concede that in “Design of Everyday things” he was so focused on usability he failed to recognise the importance of enjoyment Enjoyment and delight are clearly a major contributor to someone’s overall perception of usability of products But why does it matter? It comes back to emotions… When looking at design; we now realise it is not just about rational thought… emotions are important too… As are aesthetics and enjoyment…
As we know from research – people perceive that attractive things work better (see work done by Noam Tractinsky and Herbert Read into design and aesthetics) Who doesn’t love their iPhone and forgive it any minor usability issues …because it is so dam fun and enjoyable to use?! The iPhone is one of many good examples of beauty, brains and usability all going hand-in-hand… Despite any criticism, my 1yo can use my iPhone her natural inclination was to gesture to see different screens, so if that is not intuitive design – then I am not sure what is…
So anyway – back to user-based testing…what are we focusing on here?
So when we engage with users – what are we doing?
For a more accurate whole-brained evaluation with users , shouldn’t we develop new forms of evaluation that honour right-brained competencies ? Without doing so – how can we hope to understand what ‘fun’, ‘enjoyment’ and ‘delight’ actually means to a user when they come through the door? Let’s take a look at some psychology again…
Someone get something wrong in an evaluation setting and then they try again and again – but this time with more effort? The tendency to repeat the same operation over again is most likely for those people that are anxious or stressed
The mindset of confusion increases the likelihood of error… When someone is relaxed and happy, their thought processes expand and they become more creative and imaginative… (see Alice Isen for some psychology studies on emotion and happiness)
So back to the main reason I’m here…
We introduce ‘priming’ as a way to get better outcomes from all our engagements with users and focus more on both brain hemispheres Rather than just the standard ‘left-brain’ approach…and you know what? We have started to with some great results…
For the last few years, we have started to get users to complete homework for us before we see them… Regardless of whether they come to us for user-based testing, design workshops or focus groups, we have started to ‘prime’ users by getting them to do homework activities that get them thinking from a ‘right-brain’ perspective there is no doubt in my mind of the negative impact that ‘setting’ can have on a users stress level is significant – and this affects how they evaluate or talk about the topic you are covering – this is the emotional side of things for your users… What we generally do is send off the homework activity for users to complete before they see us – once they have been recruited…So what is it really that we do? We ask users to make a collage using imagery and words - We suggest they source images and words from magazines, newspapers, the web. We ask them to do this before we engage with them, whether it be: User-testing; Behavioural interviews; Focus groups… We get them to talk us through the collage first – before we engage in our own sessions - This is like a ‘warm-up’ We offer more money to them as an incentive to do it…and interestingly - no one has ‘not’ done it!
Users are able to give more considered, thoughtful feedback as opposed to the first thing that pops in their head, which they then contradict later. Another aspect of nervousness rather than mistakes is giving quick, shallow answers just to say something and not be silent…but this approach doesn’t rely on people’s on the spot memory: they get to really think back and not give a flip answer because they’re concerned they’re taking too long. we also discover on the collages a much wider context to the topic than we had previously imagined . Usually we see things on there (people, decisions, circumstances) that we wouldn't have dreamt were related or dependent, but which we learn are important. The increased access to users context-of-use and deeper emotional and thought processes via this reflective process. It is important to highlight, that this is one technique amongst many that we all could and do use and one that is not always appropriate to use. e.g. when a strong performance-driven task evaluation is needed the time is probably better spent on tasks generating usability metrics and competitor analysis. But we have personally – seen some really interesting and excellent artifacts created that have assisted our project work and research in a range of useful ways…
Here is an example…I asked the team what they saw as the key benefits of this process and all of them suggested things such as: Make the most of time with users Users are more engaged and even excited to report on the work they did They are less stressed and more relaxed We get to tap into a more creative and emotional side of users gaining deeper insights to their personality and world-view The biggie really is accessing more of the ‘emotional’ side of users via the use of imagery and words … This task taps into the right-brain thinking I was talking about before in a way that pure usability studies cannot
This was a mother of 8…yes 8!! As you can imagine freedom, time to herself and organisation showcased here!
Why not complete this activity yourself to try it out? It acts as a really good way to connect with the how , what and when is to put yourself in the user’s shoes when trying to do a homework activity yourself. This provides a basis to iterate with an understanding of what scaffolding the user will probably need to create, in a particular instance.
Users LOVE doing this activity…these comments are typical of what we have heard… In the past we have seen an underestimation of how much of the decision making process is a function of emotion … We THINK that we are making logical decisions . But it is surprising how often those decisions are artful rationalizations of decisions we made based on emotion , or triggers, or habits… If we want our users to buy, vote, share, ask their doctor, or just return often, then we must be able to engineer the emotions, triggers, and habits…the art of persuasion is about understanding users blockers and drivers and motivations and this process allows us to tap into this emotional layer The great news is that this approach (among others such as PET and product reaction cards) offers a tangible example of the value of a customer-centric approach and UX professionals can offer a client
Immediate benefits of the process – we think – are evident Another really helpful aspect to this activity is that it helps to bridge the gap between marketing / segmentation and more traditional UX – as the marketing people love the artifacts created They bring a little bit of the user out of their home and into the boardroom discussions we have with users We put them on the walls and engage stakeholders with ‘their product users’ - it is real and tangible and …are I say it ‘fun’ Probably most important is the fact that this exercise offers stakeholders some of the ‘empathy’ needed to consider that life gets in the road of clear cut decisions … it allows business stakeholders to walk in the users shoes for a little bit and gives them a new or perhaps different perspective of their users
Some of the standard methods of UX apply in analysis Uncovering and mapping user stories and journey's Affinity diagramming Mental model mapping… – mixed with psychology and anthropology for good measure… BUT - we’ll have to leave some of that detail for next time!
So what do you think?
Get in touch! We will put this slide pack on SlideShare and tweet about it @symplicit
Symplicit - Not To Prime, is a Crime! (from OzIA - Sydney)
Not to Prime, is a Crime Jodie Moule - Director OzIA-Sydney October 2009
Set and setting in UX … and remember, we’re not testing you, we’re testing the design… I'm on my own? I thought this was a group setting… I wonder who’s watching me, I hope I don’t look like a fool…
Right brain or Left brain? Right brain or Left brain?
Are you right brain or left brain? Right-brained, on the other hand, focuses on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity. Left-brain tends to focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy.
Left vs. Right…the deal <ul><li>Left Brain </li></ul><ul><li>Logical </li></ul><ul><li>Sequential </li></ul><ul><li>Rational </li></ul><ul><li>Analytical </li></ul><ul><li>Objective </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at parts </li></ul><ul><li>Right Brain </li></ul><ul><li>Random </li></ul><ul><li>Intuitive </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic </li></ul><ul><li>Synthesizing </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at wholes </li></ul>
This is relevant to UX research too…usable and ugly? <ul><li>“… elevating usability to it’s proper place in the design world…[he] neglected [design].” “cognition interprets and understands the world around you, while emotions allow you to make quick decisions about it…” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don Norman, Emotional Design </li></ul></ul>
Left vs. Right…which is it? <ul><li>Left Brain </li></ul><ul><li>Logical </li></ul><ul><li>Sequential </li></ul><ul><li>Rational </li></ul><ul><li>Analytical </li></ul><ul><li>Objective </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at parts </li></ul>
Confused much? “ The tendency to repeat the same error over again is especially likely for those who are anxious or tense” Alice M. Isen "THE INFLUENCE OF POSITIVE AFFECT ON DECISION MAKING AND COGNITIVE ORGANIZATION",
… so now about that Priming … so now, about that Priming
What does this mean to the user? Empowerment “ I just LOVED doing this! My daughter thought I was mad…” Prepared “ I’ve spend ages doing this…it was fun!” Ownership “ I’m so glad you’re interested in it!” Ready to contribute “… that is exactly what I was thinking!”