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Drawing Out Your
Users
Using Sketch Techniques
for User Research

UX Speakeasy’s
Sketchcamp San Diego
October 6th, 2012
User Research…
¿Qué es eso
Ugly Graph Time…
users…pffft!

User (you-zur) noun
The word computer professionals
use when they mean “idiot”.
Why I do research

“

If only the people making
technology actually
understood those of us
who use it!
-- Jennifer, 31
Research Participant
Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group
Why Use
Sketches?
Humans Like to Draw Stuff
Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get
go.
Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – include the first recorded bad user
experience…bad bird…no eat human.
Humans learn to communicate through drawing before they can write
Sketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expression;
a form of social commentary
But Really

…

Why?
OK then…

“

Drawings yield data uniquely free
from many influences that distort
verbal communications. The
communication transmitted by them
is not recognized by the subject and
thus escapes the vigilance of the
mind.
-- G. Marian Klinget
The Drawing Completion Test: A Projective
Technique for the Investigation of Personality
Practically Speaking
• Sketching during research is a rapid and
straightforward way to gain deep insight into
participants.
• Sketching can reveal feelings, influences and
interests – things that they may not come up
in interview/conversational research.
• Sketching provides another form of data
collection that falls somewhere between
asking users and watching users
Steal This Info:
• Sketching provides emotional access
• Sketching is less guarded than conversation
• Sketching can narrow the participants focus to
only important parts of their story
• Sketching allows for a freedom of expression
that may not come with conversation
Origins
Of Sketch Research
Back to Psychology:
• Sketch/drawing analysis is closely related to
handwriting analysis. Many of the same principles are
used.
• Drawings are used in conjunction with handwriting
analysis to develop a personality profile, or uncover
information not necessarily available in handwriting
alone.
• Drawings when used for psychological evaluation can
expose a person’s emotional state.
• When used in conjunction with handwriting analysis
they can either confirm a personality profile, or reveal
traits not evident in the handwriting.
Psych 101: Introduction to Psychology
Analysis of a person's drawings is a common practice used
in child psychology. Tests like the House-Person-Tree test or
the Draw a Person test help the psychologist gain an
understanding of the child's mental and emotional state.
Psych 244a: Art Therapy & Research
Art Therapy comes from research done in the 30s
Much like Handwriting Analysis:
• Thickness of lines; Curves vs. straight lines; types of
strokes
• Darkness and light
• Aesthetic Quality
• The way the page is filled
• level of detail; accuracy
• Proportions
but…

“

Psychology in UX is a bunch of Horseshit.
(Or something like that – I’m paraphrasing)
-- Christopher Konrad
Conversation on Psychology/UX
September UX Speakeasy Meetup
Mein analysis of
Davinci leads me to
believe he spent hees
virst years as a
Fahderless Child

Keep in Mind
Uncle Siggy famously endeavored to analyze perhaps the greatest sketch
artist of all times, Leonardo da Vinci.
Mein analysis of
Davinci leads me to
believe he spent hees
virst years as a
Fahderless Child

Keep in Mind
…he got it completely wrong. Lenny was a momma’s boy.
So…
If Uncle Siggy can get it wrong you
should:
Focus on the key topics of the research
rather than delving too much into
interpretation.
…but it doesn’t hurt to learn more about the methods!
Before
You

Start
Some stuff you
should know:
• Create a lighthearted environment
• Participants have various levels of comfort
with drawing
• Sketching does not always bring insight
• Sketching needs to be used in conjunction
with other methods
• Provide focus for the sketches
• Provide examples before starting
Sketch Research

Methods
Sketching Bad &Good

•
•

Ask the user to draw out a bad experience for a single product/website/etc.
Expand on this by having them draw a solution.
Now…

Try It

•
•
•
•
•
•

Exercise!

Set a time limit.
Draw a vertical line splitting the page.
On the left draw a picture of one of your favorite experiences watching television.
On the right draw one of the worst experiences watching television.
Ask questions to explore emotion of events.
Explore the problem and solution in conversation.
Sketching A Day in the Life

•
•
•
•

Rapid way of gleaning some of the information you might get from journaling/diaries.
Creates a quick view into a “Day in the Life”.
Day in the life can be used with guerilla research like Man on the Street for rapid research.
Helps to provide insight for persona creation.
Now…

Try It

Exercise!

• Set a time limit.
• Draw a line across the bottom and create a timeline for your average day: get up, go to
work/school, lunch, sneak out of the office to watch movies, gym, go out, hang with family, go to bed.
• Above the timeline draw icons for all of the tools you use to communicate with throughout the day:
facebook, email, twitter, texting, calls, skype, etc.
• Above that draw pictures of all of the connected devices you use to communicate.
• Draw a picture of your favorite way (and how) to communicate during the day.
• Ask questions for persona development.
Sketching Future Vision

•
•
•
•

Asking users about the future can be tricky – just ask Henry Ford.
This type of sketching allows for open-ended creativity.
Don’t overwhelm participants with technobabble when describing the task.
Be sure and set the task to the near future to make it more approachable.
Now…

Try It

Exercise!

• Set a time limit.
• Imagine 5 years in the future (insert your idea here) that everything in your house is connected.
• (Develop the story) You are able to connect with not only your electronics, tvs, AC, oven, scale, but the
house it self.
• Sketch two pictures of how you see yourself interacting with (x) a connected smart house.
• ProTip: When you ask for two pictures and set a time limit, you are guaranteeing that you will at least get
on. If you only ask for one, they’ll spend the entire time thinking about it
• Ask questions to understand the drawing
Takeaway giblets:
• Sketching research is about the process not
the actual image.
• Sketching research requires you be a part of
the process.
• Sketching research should always be used
with other research.
• Start by analyzing primary focus rather than
digging in.
Bennett King
Principal UX Researcher
Qualcomm R&D
bennettmking@gmail.com

@skunkwUrX
Bennett King
references
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Christian Rohrer, When to Use Which User Research Methods, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox
Erich Neumann, Art & the Creative Unconscious, Princeton University Press
Shaun McNiff, Art-Based Research, Jessica Kingsly Publishers
James Beebe, Rapid Assessment Process, Gonzaga University
David R Millen, Rapid Ethnography: Time Deepening Strategies for HCI Field Research, AT&T
Labs Research
Alexandre Fluery, Drawing & Acting as User Experience Research Tools, Aalborg University
Everglades: Family Communication User Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies
Group (in conjunction with Sachs Insights)
Atascadero: Ethnographic Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group (in
conjunction with Human Centric)
Shasta: Media User Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group (in
conjunction with Spear Research)

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Drawing Out Your Users: Using Sketch Techniques for User Research

  • 1. Drawing Out Your Users Using Sketch Techniques for User Research UX Speakeasy’s Sketchcamp San Diego October 6th, 2012
  • 4. users…pffft! User (you-zur) noun The word computer professionals use when they mean “idiot”.
  • 5. Why I do research “ If only the people making technology actually understood those of us who use it! -- Jennifer, 31 Research Participant Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group
  • 7. Humans Like to Draw Stuff
  • 8. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go.
  • 9. Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – include the first recorded bad user experience…bad bird…no eat human.
  • 10. Humans learn to communicate through drawing before they can write
  • 11. Sketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expression; a form of social commentary
  • 13. OK then… “ Drawings yield data uniquely free from many influences that distort verbal communications. The communication transmitted by them is not recognized by the subject and thus escapes the vigilance of the mind. -- G. Marian Klinget The Drawing Completion Test: A Projective Technique for the Investigation of Personality
  • 14. Practically Speaking • Sketching during research is a rapid and straightforward way to gain deep insight into participants. • Sketching can reveal feelings, influences and interests – things that they may not come up in interview/conversational research. • Sketching provides another form of data collection that falls somewhere between asking users and watching users
  • 15. Steal This Info: • Sketching provides emotional access • Sketching is less guarded than conversation • Sketching can narrow the participants focus to only important parts of their story • Sketching allows for a freedom of expression that may not come with conversation
  • 17. Back to Psychology: • Sketch/drawing analysis is closely related to handwriting analysis. Many of the same principles are used. • Drawings are used in conjunction with handwriting analysis to develop a personality profile, or uncover information not necessarily available in handwriting alone. • Drawings when used for psychological evaluation can expose a person’s emotional state. • When used in conjunction with handwriting analysis they can either confirm a personality profile, or reveal traits not evident in the handwriting.
  • 18. Psych 101: Introduction to Psychology Analysis of a person's drawings is a common practice used in child psychology. Tests like the House-Person-Tree test or the Draw a Person test help the psychologist gain an understanding of the child's mental and emotional state.
  • 19. Psych 244a: Art Therapy & Research Art Therapy comes from research done in the 30s Much like Handwriting Analysis: • Thickness of lines; Curves vs. straight lines; types of strokes • Darkness and light • Aesthetic Quality • The way the page is filled • level of detail; accuracy • Proportions
  • 20. but… “ Psychology in UX is a bunch of Horseshit. (Or something like that – I’m paraphrasing) -- Christopher Konrad Conversation on Psychology/UX September UX Speakeasy Meetup
  • 21. Mein analysis of Davinci leads me to believe he spent hees virst years as a Fahderless Child Keep in Mind Uncle Siggy famously endeavored to analyze perhaps the greatest sketch artist of all times, Leonardo da Vinci.
  • 22. Mein analysis of Davinci leads me to believe he spent hees virst years as a Fahderless Child Keep in Mind …he got it completely wrong. Lenny was a momma’s boy.
  • 23. So… If Uncle Siggy can get it wrong you should: Focus on the key topics of the research rather than delving too much into interpretation. …but it doesn’t hurt to learn more about the methods!
  • 25. Some stuff you should know: • Create a lighthearted environment • Participants have various levels of comfort with drawing • Sketching does not always bring insight • Sketching needs to be used in conjunction with other methods • Provide focus for the sketches • Provide examples before starting
  • 27. Sketching Bad &Good • • Ask the user to draw out a bad experience for a single product/website/etc. Expand on this by having them draw a solution.
  • 28. Now… Try It • • • • • • Exercise! Set a time limit. Draw a vertical line splitting the page. On the left draw a picture of one of your favorite experiences watching television. On the right draw one of the worst experiences watching television. Ask questions to explore emotion of events. Explore the problem and solution in conversation.
  • 29. Sketching A Day in the Life • • • • Rapid way of gleaning some of the information you might get from journaling/diaries. Creates a quick view into a “Day in the Life”. Day in the life can be used with guerilla research like Man on the Street for rapid research. Helps to provide insight for persona creation.
  • 30. Now… Try It Exercise! • Set a time limit. • Draw a line across the bottom and create a timeline for your average day: get up, go to work/school, lunch, sneak out of the office to watch movies, gym, go out, hang with family, go to bed. • Above the timeline draw icons for all of the tools you use to communicate with throughout the day: facebook, email, twitter, texting, calls, skype, etc. • Above that draw pictures of all of the connected devices you use to communicate. • Draw a picture of your favorite way (and how) to communicate during the day. • Ask questions for persona development.
  • 31. Sketching Future Vision • • • • Asking users about the future can be tricky – just ask Henry Ford. This type of sketching allows for open-ended creativity. Don’t overwhelm participants with technobabble when describing the task. Be sure and set the task to the near future to make it more approachable.
  • 32. Now… Try It Exercise! • Set a time limit. • Imagine 5 years in the future (insert your idea here) that everything in your house is connected. • (Develop the story) You are able to connect with not only your electronics, tvs, AC, oven, scale, but the house it self. • Sketch two pictures of how you see yourself interacting with (x) a connected smart house. • ProTip: When you ask for two pictures and set a time limit, you are guaranteeing that you will at least get on. If you only ask for one, they’ll spend the entire time thinking about it • Ask questions to understand the drawing
  • 33. Takeaway giblets: • Sketching research is about the process not the actual image. • Sketching research requires you be a part of the process. • Sketching research should always be used with other research. • Start by analyzing primary focus rather than digging in.
  • 34. Bennett King Principal UX Researcher Qualcomm R&D bennettmking@gmail.com @skunkwUrX Bennett King
  • 35. references • • • • • • • • • Christian Rohrer, When to Use Which User Research Methods, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox Erich Neumann, Art & the Creative Unconscious, Princeton University Press Shaun McNiff, Art-Based Research, Jessica Kingsly Publishers James Beebe, Rapid Assessment Process, Gonzaga University David R Millen, Rapid Ethnography: Time Deepening Strategies for HCI Field Research, AT&T Labs Research Alexandre Fluery, Drawing & Acting as User Experience Research Tools, Aalborg University Everglades: Family Communication User Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group (in conjunction with Sachs Insights) Atascadero: Ethnographic Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group (in conjunction with Human Centric) Shasta: Media User Research Project, Qualcomm Advanced Technologies Group (in conjunction with Spear Research)

Editor's Notes

  1. How many doing user research currentlySerious I don’t know – would be a short presoBroad scope covering qualitative and quantitative – usability testing, remote research, focus groups, acceptance testingWe are going to be looking at up real life, upfront, in person, talking to people, primary, qualitative researchArgue on if its best to do your research up front or design and research users afterLet’s se if we can’t get you to do both
  2. Designery folks make me a new oneShows most of the types of research - in person - remoteQualquantYou
  3. Quote an engineer buddy of mine has on his wall – see it on the internetWe as designers are also guilty of itOften believe that we can get it perfect because we know betterBest ever seen 75%I’d ask you this: If you are not talking to users as part of your process are you really doing User Experience DesignRhetorical – answer is no
  4. Here’s why we do itQuote from a previous round of research we did – hangs in the hall at workDon’t discountCarrier ReqsMarket forces / competitionTechnical innovationExecutive visionBelieve that the user is a stakeholder in product development If we just listen to what we want – bound to fail
  5. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – including the first recorded bad user experienceHumans learn to communicate through drawing before they can writeSketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expressionA form of social commentary
  6. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – including the first recorded bad user experienceHumans learn to communicate through drawing before they can writeSketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expressionA form of social commentary
  7. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – including the first recorded bad user experienceHumans learn to communicate through drawing before they can writeSketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expressionA form of social commentary
  8. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – including the first recorded bad user experienceHumans learn to communicate through drawing before they can writeSketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expressionA form of social commentary
  9. Sketching has been a mainstay of human communication from the get go Cave Paintings – Petroglyphs – including the first recorded bad user experienceHumans learn to communicate through drawing before they can writeSketching is a form of unconscious and conscious expressionA form of social commentary
  10. That’s just a bunch of mumbo jumbo
  11. Deep insight into participants in a rapid and straightforward wayLess boundaries or biases than interviews Somewhere between asking users and watching usersThe interpretations of drawings is closely related to those in handwriting analysis. Many of the same principles are used -- the way the page is filled, level of detail, types of strokes, proportions, accuracy and much more. From all of this it is possible to provide a personality profile.Drawings can reveal feelings, influences and interests -- the artist's inner emotional state and development. When used in conjunction with handwriting analysis it can either confirm a personality profile, or reveal traits not evident in the handwriting. Analysis of a person's drawings is also a common practice used in child psychology. Tests like the House-Person-Tree test or the Draw a Person test help the psychologist gain an understanding of the child's mental and emotional state.
  12. So where is this coming from
  13. House Tree PersonWhen used in conjunction with handwriting analysis it can either confirm a personality profile, or reveal traits not evident in the handwriting. Analysis of a person's drawings is also a common practice used in child psychology. Tests like the House-Person-Tree test or the Draw a Person test help the psychologist gain an understanding of the child's mental and emotional state.
  14. Demonized a bit for his stanceMore that we should not try and make our research something it is not.
  15. Greatest sketcher of all time Focus on the key topics of the research rather than reading into itIts worth looking into If you are interested Art Based Research by Shaun McNiff
  16. Greatest sketcher of all timeIts worth looking into If you are interested Art Based Research by Shaun McNiff
  17. Mix it into field research
  18. Universal Emotional designKnow lot of you are web monkeys so this one is easyAsk the user to draw out a bad experience with your productAsk the user to drawProblem & Solution
  19. How many are familiar with journalingTrack users with journal or blog over a period of timeHelps to provide insight to create personasCan be costly and time consumingDay in the life can be used with guerilla research like Man on the Street for rapid research
  20. Draw a line across the bottom of your page two more lines splitting rest of the pageThe bottom line is your daily timeline. Add milestones of your day – get up, go to work/school, lunch, sneak out of the office to watch movies, gym, go out, hang with family, go to bedAbove the timeline on the pictures of the connected electronics you use, phones, ipads, laptops, camerasOn the right middle draw your current social networks
  21. Asking users about the future can be trickyHenry Ford quoteSketching allows for creativityDon’t overwhelm with technobabbleSet the future to near future
  22. Imaging the 5 years in the future that everything in your house is connected.You are able to connect with not only your electronics, tvs, AC, oven, scale, but the house it self.Sketch two pictures of how you see yourself interacting with a connected smart house.
  23. About the process not the imageLooking at the drawing gets you nothing – you have to be a part of the processLevels of comfort