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Research first, design later

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Research first, design later

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esearch is probably the most underrated stages in a design process. It becomes too easy to skip it when Stakeholders ”don’t see the need to spend their budget on it”; Product Managers stress up to finish “urgent” tasks; or (young) designers just don't see the real potential of it. Sometimes our audience is so variant, we tell ourselves there is no specific exploration that can be applied or we just think our decisions are correct upfront based just on our experience or assumptions. And they are great! They are absolutely necessary for designers to work, but they become dangerous when treated as facts. Design research gives us a structured, methodical approach to a understanding the users; in ways that no other approach can.

esearch is probably the most underrated stages in a design process. It becomes too easy to skip it when Stakeholders ”don’t see the need to spend their budget on it”; Product Managers stress up to finish “urgent” tasks; or (young) designers just don't see the real potential of it. Sometimes our audience is so variant, we tell ourselves there is no specific exploration that can be applied or we just think our decisions are correct upfront based just on our experience or assumptions. And they are great! They are absolutely necessary for designers to work, but they become dangerous when treated as facts. Design research gives us a structured, methodical approach to a understanding the users; in ways that no other approach can.

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Research first, design later

  1. 1. RESEARCH FIRST, DESIGN LATER
  2. 2. UX Designer, blogger and music lover Living the UX dream since 2013. @oanablaga blagaoana.com
  3. 3. WHAT WHY WHO / WHOM WHEN HOW
  4. 4. Understanding human behaviour, needs and motivation through observation techniques, analysis and other feedback methodologies.
  5. 5. INFORM VALIDATE REDUCE
  6. 6. QUANTITATIVE / QUALITATIVE GENERATIVE /EVALUATIVE ATTITUDINAL / BEHAVIORAL
  7. 7. SERVICE SAFARI
  8. 8. SURVEYS
  9. 9. FOCUS GROUPS
  10. 10. INTERVIEWS
  11. 11. FIELD STUDIES
  12. 12. USABILITY TESTING
  13. 13. A/B TESTING
  14. 14. Quicker time to value Move slow to move fast Confirming product market fit to risk development Increase learning from mvps, allowing quicker iteration.
  15. 15. Any research is better than no research
  16. 16. UX – U = X

Editor's Notes

  • Ma numesc Blaga Oana si sunt UI/ UX Designer, blogger si music lover. Momentan sunt parte a echipei Namogo, echipa vesela unde ne ocupam de produse digitale. Atat web, cat si mobile. Funny story: Niciodata nu m-am gandit ca o sa ajung designer, toata perioada liceului si mare parte a facultatii am crezut ca vrerau sa lucrez in marketing, imi voi gasi un job intr-o agentie de publicitate si asta voi face toata viata. E clar ca acum nu lucrez intr-o agentie de publicitate, nu fac marketing, insa toate notiunile acaparate de-a lungul timpului m-au adus aici si ma ajuta in continuare. Sunt o persoana foarte curioasa si mereu ma intreb de ce se intampla lucruri, cum se intampla, de ce unii reactioneaza intr-un fel, altii in altul, ce probleme sunt in lume si cum as putea si eu contribui la rezolvarea lor. Curiozitatea, cred eu, este, ar trebui sa fie unul din elementele definitorii ale unui designer. La urma urmei, ce face un designer? Rezolva o problema. Si cum rezolva problema? Folosindu-se de un proces amplu si complex (not) care incepe cu research.   
    Acum ca m-am prezentat, as vrea si eu sa stiu cu cine stau de vorba astazi. Cine e designer pe aici? Cine e developer? Stakeholder? Restul?
    Cool. Iata si ce o sa facem astazi.
  • Inainte de toate o sa ne vedem de ce facem research, apoi o sa vedem cum facem research si ce facem dupa, si cum ”vindem” research ul asta clientilor.
  • WHAT

    DEFINITA SPUNE CA...

    CURIOZITATEA – elementul principal al prezentarii. Toate acestea presupun o doza destul de mare de curiozitate. DE CE, cum, cand unde, cum ar trebui sa fie niste intrebari esentiale pentru un designer. Ar trebui sa fim mereu interesati de ce un utilizator a ales asa si nu asa... DE CE – ul si empatia. Ambele sunt necesare pentru ambele categorii. Atat pentru clienti/ product owneri/ stakeholderi sa ii facem mai usor sa inteleaga avanajele cercetarii, dar si pentru utilizatori sa le intelegem mai bine problemele.

    - In user experience, research ul e esential. Fara el, nu am reusi sa intelegem comportamentul utilizatorilor, iar produsele, tehnologia nu ar evolua deloc. Unii spun chiar, ca researchul este procesul de intelegere al impactului designului asupra unei audiente.
  • - Toti avem o gramada de ganduri despre utilizatori. Avem anumite cunostinte, informatii pe care le-am castigat de-a lungul timpului, lucrand in industrie. Da ce stim de fapt?
    De foarte multe ori lucram pe presupuneri. Si presupunerile pot fi nemaipomentite. Sunt destul de necesare pentru un designer, insa devin periculoase cand sunt tratate ca si fapte reale.
    Often we work with assumptions. Assumptions are great! They are absolutely necessary for us to work as designers, but they become dangerous when treated as facts. Design research gives us a structured, methodical approach to understanding our users. With it we are able to to represent and articulate them in an unbiased way.
  • Design research ne da o imagine structurala, metodica, asupra intelegerii utilizatorului. Ne ajuta sa ii reprezentam mai usor intr-un mod cat mai obiectiv. Rersearchul ne ajuta in 3 lucruri:


  • Cui?Cine?
    Here are some potential stakeholders to consider in UX projects: 
    The project manager. The person with the ultimate responsibility for the project's delivery. 
    The project sponsor. The person who brought the project to the table, ensured that it had a budget etc. 
    The project team. You can't run a UX project in isolation; the exact make up of a team varies from project-to-project, but you need to understand the contributions of everyone to some extent to get your work right. 
    A customer representative. If your project is client-facing, you'll need a customer service operations manager's input. 
    Customers. Hopefully the customer representative can find you some "friendly" customers to work out any specific UX concerns that they may have. 
    Subject matter experts. Whatever product you're creating, there's an in-house expert or a consultant that needs to be involved to ensure that you're hitting the minimum UX requirements. 
    Board/C-Suite Representatives. If they're available the CFO, CTO and CEO can offer big insight into finances, technologies and the corporate vision. 
    Marketing. It's useful to know exactly what is going to be expected in terms of the overall organization's marketing objectives so you can complement those objectives. 
    End users. If you're not involving end users, you're on a path to failure. You can please all of the above, but if the user hates your work, it's not likely to be a roaring success.
  • Cand?
  • Let me start of by saying that we are not “pure” researchers. We don’t have to follow a strict scientific method.
    We do create hypotheses and test them. BUT we can be nimble, we can change the prototypes on the fly. We measure our success by the outcomes we reach.
    There are many user research methods that we can use to gather data. I am going to cover several of them in this article, but this is by no means an all inclusive list.
  • Qualitative & Quantitative
    Metodele cantitative sunt de obicei orice putem numara: timp petrecut pe pagina, procentaj de utilizatori angajati in x, vizite pe pagina, user flows, timp petrecut pentru completarea unui task, etc. Pe langa analytics, mai putetm folosi si chestionare, a/b testing. De mentionat, este faptul ca de obicei metodele cantitative sunt foarte eificenta cu seturi mari de date.
    Metodele calitative, sunt cam toate celelalte care nu pot fi numarate. Presupune implicarea utilizatorilor si cercetarea si mai amanuntita a comportamentului, a sentimentelor, atitudinilor si emotiilor traite. Cercetarea calitativa te ajuta sa capeti incredere si sa ai o intelegere mai amanuntita asupra imaginii obtinute Iin urma cercetarii cantitative si te ajuta sa nu iei concluzii gresite. Daca cu cercetarea cantitativa stii ce a facut utilizatorul, cu cea calitativa intelegi de ce.

    Daca cu cercetarea cantitativa stii ce a facut utilizatorul, cu cea calitativa intelegi de ce.


    Generative & Evaluative
    In functie de unde te afli in procesul de design, ai putea sa alegi tehnici diferite. Cumva aceasta dimensiune poate fi vazuta si din perspectiva :
    Design the right thing, before designing the thing right.
    Daca suntem mai al inceputul procesului, vrem sa aflam care anume ar fi produsul corect pe care sa il construim. Daca am intrat deja in procesul de constructie, deja folosim metode de evaluare a procesului. Sa vedem daca procedam corect in construirea acestuia.
    Nici cele doua nu sunt in contradictie. Se completeaza., Daca la inceput afli cum sa construiesti produsul, dupa de alte metode te folosesti sa vezi daca totul este in regula.


    Behavioral & Attitudinal
    Sau mai bine ce spune utilizatorul & ce face utilizatorul
    Ce pareri au ei despre produs? Cum interactioneaza cu produsul?


  • Nimeni nu s-a nascut ”cercetator”. Nicaieri nu scrie ca trebuie sa urmam un proces strict si sa ne folosim doar de anumite mteodologii. De cele mai multe ori, folosim 2-3 combinate si ne adaptam pe parcurs. E cream niste ipoteze, si incepem sa le testam. O sa ne impiedicam, o sa schimbam prototipuri, si o sa putem masura succesul, pe masura rezultatelor obtinute.  
    Sunt o gramada de metode de a obtine date, pe care le putem folosi. Multi ajung la un numar de 20 de metode de sine statatoare, insa pe care de la combinam, ajungem la mult mai multe.  
  • Service safari  
    Sau metoda prin care adunam toate detaliile despre produs/ concurenta/ client. Prespune de fapt sa te arunci tu Ț in salbaticieȚ si sa experimentezi cu produsul deja existent, sa vezi exact ce se intampla, cum e experienta si sa afli cat mai multe despre mediul inconjurator. Eu de obicei incep de la un search pe google, testat produs (daca exista) daca nu incerc sa caut cine altcineva face deja asta, cum o face, care ar fi aspectele neacoperite de ei., cum as putea sa imbunatatesc eu acel produs, samd.  
    De exemplu am avut la un moment dat un client care vroia o aplicatie, prin care sa comanzi un bucatar chef sa vina la tine acasa sa iti gateasca. Toate cerintele luiu erau intr-un numar foarte mare, iar unele erau chiar foarte ambiguii. Asa ca am petrecut pe putin 3 zile sa caut sa vad ce este acolo si sa testez tot ce se poate testa. Dupa, am avut un interviu si cu clientul, interviu in care am discutat de toate cerintele lui din brief si am incercat sa vedem care sunt mai suitable pentru urmatorul pas al cercetarii.  
  • Sunt o metoda destul de ieftina de a obtine insights rapid. Sunt destul de tricky din doua motive>  
    Selectie subiectiva asupra participantilor 
    E mai dificil sa adresezi intrebari care sa nu conduca utilizatorii la raspunsurie pe care le cauti. 


    This is an often inexpensive method you can use to gain insight quickly. Surveys are tricky because of two problems that tend to arise with them. First off, there is a significant selection bias at the type of user who will fill out your survey, even when using incentives. Secondly, it can be difficult to ask questions that don’t lead your participants to the answers you were looking for. Caroline Jarrett gives us some great tips for writing surveys in this Sideshare.
  • Chestionarele sunt, cred una din cele mai folosite metode de cercetare, si asta datorita backgroundului de marketing pe care il am. Daca in facultate nu imi placea deloc sa le fac, acum chiar ma bucura asta. IAr cu nouile toolorui aparute e si mai simplu de sintetizat anumite date.  
    Chestionarele, desi par destul de simple, sunt totusi complexe si au nevoie de anumite criterii sa fie respectate. Si cred ca cele mai mari greseli pe care le fac unii, sunt sa complice chestionarul prea tare. Fie prin explicatii/ instructiuni foarte lungi si fara folos, fie prin intrebari neclare, sau optiuni de raspuns ambigue.  
    Un aspect foarte important de avut in vedere in cadrul chestionarelor este sa intrebam de lucruri recente/ experiente recente. Decat experiente aflate deja intr-un trecut putin mai indepartat. Multi, nu isi vor aminti exact anumite intamplari si vor incerca sa raspunda cum cred ca este mai adecavt. Lucru care se intampla si in cazul interviurilor.  
    Nu folositi doar doua raspunsuri Țda sau nu/ adevarat sau fals. Lasati loc si de altele. Asa cum lumea nu se imparte neaparat in bine si rau,. Alb sau negru, si avem siu o cale de mijloc, asa si raspunsurile utilizatorilor se vor incadra in calea de mijloc. Daca vrem sa vedem si de ce nu au ales da sau nu. Alb sau negru, in momentul in care utilizatorul alege altele, putem lasaun camp de text,m unde utilizatoriul sa isi spuna durerile, sau putem continua cu o intrebare de completare.  
  • Focus groups involve getting users together to talk about your product or service. This method has been around for a long time. It is sometimes criticized because it tends to emphasize group think and doesn’t identify “unmet needs.” To learn more about running a focus group, there’s a great list of “Do’s and Dont’s” from UX Matters.
  • In much of our research we talk to users in one way or another. Often these methods bleed into each other in practice. Interviewing users is valuable much in the way you interview potential new hire at your organization. The focus here is to gain a deeper understanding of your user, their motivations and background. This is useful data when it comes to building personas. The NN/g have a spectacular article on when interviews are useful.
  • Do you enjoy people watching? Have you ever sat in a hotel lobby and observed someone checking in? A field study is that but with more intention. They can be a great way to get beyond what a user can tell you they need, identifying the areas where they struggle and don’t even think about it. The areas that have just become part of life or “just the way it is.” We don’t settle for that in UX, and field studies can be a great way to unearth those problems. Jared spool goes so far as to call them “the best tool to discover user needs.”
  • This method involves testing a mockup, prototype, drawing, or even live code by giving a user tasks and inviting them to complete those tasks while you observe. I am always amazed at the things I learn when I run a usability test. I use this method more than any other and strongly recommend you try it out if you don’t already. Often I hear concern over how expensive this method is perceived to be, but I can tell you from experience that it can actually be rather inexpensive. Check out Steve Krug’s book Rocket Surgery Made Easy and this UX Booth article on usability testing to learn more.
  • One potential issue with Usability Testing is that human beings often want to be pleasing and might not be honestly critical of your work. This problem can be addressed with A/B Testing. Showing a user two options and asking them to give you feedback comparing the pros/cons of both opens up the conversation and can provide more honest feedback. You can use technology to run A/B Tests in a quantitatively relevant way by presenting users with interface variations in the wild. To make another book recommendation, The Handbook of Usability Testing is an oldie but a goodie and does a great job of digging into both methods. Also, NN/g digs into some intriguing concepts of A/B Testing in this article.
  • la fel ca si la chestionare, in cadrul interviurilor ar trebui sa mergem pe experiente recente. Memoria umana este supusa greselilor si oamenii nu o sa isi aminteasca exact detaliile utilizarii unui site, sau de multe ori incearca sa gaseasca un raspuns care sa fie pe aceeasi linie cu ce isi amintes, sau il formuleaza sa sune mai logic, chiar daca nu este adevarat. Oamenii mint. E un adevar.
    Nu ar trebui sa ii punem pe oameni nici in situatii ipotetice. Nu toti isi pot imagina situatia asa cum o descriem noi, iar datele obtinute pot fi compolet eronate. Asa cum designerii nu sunt neaparat utilizatorii finali, asa nici utilizatorii finali nu sunt designeri sa vizualizeze.
    De asemena nici specificatiile nu vor merge. Pasii pe hartie pot suna minunat, insa asta nu inseamna ca si in practica va fi asa. Una din cele ami bune solutii la a vedea reactia utilizatorilor la produsul nostru este un paper prototipe rapid.
    Intrebari ce nu ar trebui sa aiab loc intr-un interviu?
    Intrebari legate de design
    Intrebari legate de cum e mai bine sa se intample un lucru
    Comparatii
    Actiuni viitoare: ai face asa sau asa? Utilizatorii nu pot prezice cum se vor comporta intr-o situatie viitoare pe care nu o cunosc.
    Cat de folositoare ti se pare …
    E mai ok sa ii intrebam sa comenteze asupra unor optiuni. Nu vrem sa conducem utilizatorul in interviu, vrem sa il lasam liber sa ne spuna exact ce crede.
    Intr-un studiu de la microsoft, , acestia au intrebat utilizatorii sa sugere optiuni noi pentru office 2007, inainte de a incepe lucrul la produs. Cei mai multi dintre respondenti au raspuns cu optiuni care deja existau in office 2003. Care e concluzi ape care a tras-o microsoft de aici?
    Problema nu erau optiunile in plus sau in minus, ci disponibilitatea lor si cat de usor era sa le descoperi in program.
    Cel mai simplu, intr-un interviu sa primesti opinii competente asupra unui produs, este sa pui utilizaotrul sa il foloseasca. Sa ii dai niste taskuri si sa urmaresti comentariile asupra lui. (inceput de usability testing)
    Ce e bun intr-un interviu, este faptul ca te lasa sa
    Explorezi atitudinile si comportamentul general al utilizatorului
    Obtii o imagine mai mare asupra produsului
    Dupa interviu incerci sa rezolvi probleme si le testezi. Dupa cu un usability test te asiguri ca le-ai implementat corect.
    De avut in vedere: oameni pot inventa opinii
    E destul de periculos sa intrebi un utilizator ce parere are despre un design, pentru ca vor aparea multe comenatrii inutile. Dar daca oameniimentioneaza ei singuri un element de design ca fiind deranjant sau ok, atunci e un element de luat in considerare.
  • De cate ori ati auzit 
    Nu am timp pentru asa ceva  
    Nu am bani pentru asa ceva  
    Nu vreau sa platesc pentru asa ceva  
    E o pierdere de timp  
    Hai sa trecem mai bine direct la design  
    Eu stiu cel mai bine ce vor utilizatorii  
    Intuitia mea imi spune ca   
    Fratele, sora, bunicul, tata a spus ca …   
    De obicei, clientii sunt mai concetrati pe alte aspecte, altele decat cercetarea in procesul de design: cum sa termine mai repede, cum sa nu raman fara bani, etc. E de datoria designerului sa arate avantajele cere=cetarii, din moment ce acest aspect tine de noi. Din moment ce compania poate creste cu ajutorul informatiilor din research.   
    Incepeti sa va ganditi la research ca la ceva ce aduce plus valoare companiei si fiti gata sa puneti raspundeti intrebarilor, pe limbajul tuturor. De ce facem research, nu cum o sa facem. Puteti merge cu exprimari ca:  
    Quicker time to value  
    Move slow to move fast  
    Confirming product market fit to de risk development  
    Increase learning from mvps, allowing quicker iteration.  
    Incata valorile companiei si do your best sa pui cercetarea in termenii respectivi, termeni mai apropiati clientilor.   
    You win a race at the finish line, not the starting block.  
    Moving quickly and breaking things is all the rage these days. Regardless of how you personally feel about this approach, if your boss believes that speed is a team’s #1 priority, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to convince her otherwise. You may have more luck heartily agreeing that speed is important, and focusing instead on how to define speed. Here’s how a sample conversation might go:  
    Manager: We don’t have time for research right now. We need to ship feature X ASAP, and can iterate after shipping an MVP. Can you start sketching some wireframes?  
    Designer: It sounds like we’re on the same page about wanting to ship feature X as quickly as possible. I know you want us to start sketching some solutions right now, but a [sanity check, quick validation, etc.] will help us know we’re heading in the right direction. Speed isn’t just about how quickly you jump of the starting block, it’s about how quickly we get across the finish line.And we’ll get there much faster if we can run in a straight line instead of going in circles.  
    Imagine you’re a doctor, and a patient comes to see you with a headache. What treatment would you give that patient to fix the headache?  
    I’m no medical expert, but I think it’s fair to say that a reasonable approach would be:  
    Patient presents with symptom: headache  
    Doctor does an examination: visual, temperature, asks questions, etc.  
    Doctor makes a diagnosis: object in head  
    Doctor prescribes a treatment: remove the object.  


  • The metrics for what makes a “good” design process has historically been defined by agencies. Though a design process is intangible, agencies have found a way to package up their unique take on design and sell it as their product. This makes sense; if I’m a client looking to have a logo designed, I’m not buying the logo itself, because that hasn’t been designed yet. I’m buying into the process I expect to lead to a good logo.
    I’ve seen too many in-house designers struggling to follow “good” design practices within organizations where it’s just not possible. If this is you, don’t beat yourself up. Those designers have:
    A dedicated project team focused on this one project
    A clear design brief with all stakeholders defined and bought in prior to kickoff
    A timeline with dedicated weeks for research
    If you’re like any of the in-house designers I’ve met, any one of these items would be a luxury. All three is unheard of. So stop comparing yourself to designers working in agencies, and do the best with what you’ve got.
    Design research isn’t all or nothing. Getting feedback on mocks from a few of your friends is better than not getting any feedback at all. Getting on a call with one customer is better than not calling any. Find ways to work research into your company’s process one bit at a time, and be persistent.
  • User experience cannot exist without users. Creating user interfaces involves intricate and complex decisions. User research is a tool that can help you achieve your goals.  
    Even the most well thought out designs are assumptions until they are tested by real users. Different types of research can answer different types of questions. Know the tools and apply them accordingly. Leaving the user out is not an option.  
    To summarize this article in one line:  
    UX – U = X  
    (where “X” now means “don’t do it”).  
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