Successfully reported this slideshow.

Better Software Through User Research


Published on

In many cases, we create software to solve our own problems: missing functionality in a tool, a tool that we believe doesn't work as well as it should, or the very lack of a tool that does what we need. If we're our own users, things are quite obvious. But what about everyone else? How do we know what our users need? Isn't it best to ask just them?

In this presentation, you will learn why asking your users for what they want isn't always helpful, which do-it-yourself techniques you can use to understand their needs, how to make sense of the data you collect, and how all of this translates into the development of better features. We will discuss how this knowledge can fuel your decisions, delight your users, and influence your way of working in a distributed team of developers.


I originally gave this presentation at FOSDEM 2013.

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Better Software Through User Research

  1. 1. BETTER SOFTWARETHROUGH USER RESEARCHAlexandra Leisse – UX Designer at CFEngine AS – @troubalex
  2. 2. HELLO!• first contact with Linux in 1994• contributions to KDE since 2007• co-built the Qt Developer Network,and transitioned it to• now UX Designer at CFEngine AS• lives and loves in Oslo, Norway
  3. 3. WE’RE HIRINGtake a look at for details
  4. 4. “IT’S NOT ROCKET SURGERY”Steve Krug. Don’t Make Me Think.
  5. 5. em· pa· thynoun [mass noun]the ability to understandand share the feelings ofanother
  7. 7. SEE WITH NEW EYES• go where your audience is• read what your audience reads• watch what your audience watches• do what your audience does• think how your audience thinks
  8. 8. ASK
  9. 9. RULES OFTHUMB• define your goals andobjectives• address your own bias• avoid leading questions• ask open questions• give precise instructions• use clear, simple language• ask one thing at a time• use consistent rating scales• only ask for information youneed
  10. 10. INTERVIEWS & SURVEYSOFFLINE• write a script!• stick to your questionnaire• combine with otherresearchONLINE• keep it under 5 minutes• Survey Monkey –• Google Docs –
  11. 11. OBSERVE
  12. 12. WHATTO LOOK FOR• general task flows – understand what people do• workarounds, hacks & “creative solutions” – learn what peopleare solving• home-grown tools & unintended usage – they present greatdesign opportunities• things people complain about – find their biggest pain points
  13. 13. PROTOTYPE
  14. 14. LO-FITO HI-FI• paper is cheap – start with simple sketches• skip hi-fi wireframes – you won’t need them• build HTML prototypes – fake as much functionality as possible
  15. 15. TEST
  16. 16. prep· a· ra· tionnoun [count noun]something done to getready for an event orundertaking
  17. 17. PREPARATION IS KEY• plan well ahead• allow enough time for recruiting and preparations• ideally 5 to 8 users who match your audience, or test more often with less users• prepare a test script with introduction, tasks, and debriefing• make a list of things you need to take with you• keep the test below 45 minutes• practice the test with a friend or colleague
  18. 18. THE REALITY CHECK• stick to your script – it will help you to stay focused• listen actively – try to understand frustrations and wishes• look behind the scenes – don’t take all statements literal• take notes or record a screencast – don’t just trust your memory• fix the easy wins between tests – you’ll discover differentproblems in the next one
  19. 19. CONCLUDE
  20. 20. REVIEWINGTHE DATA• keep asking “why?” – understand the motivation• do not take all feedback literally – get down to the underlyingproblem• pay attention to the hard problems – users usually recover fromthe other ones by themselves• plan more tests if you can’t get to the bottom of something
  22. 22. JOINTHE GAMEsign up at http://jointhegame.kde.orgto become a supporting member of KDE e.V.
  23. 23. LEARN MORE
  24. 24. BOOKS• Steve Krug. Rocket Surgery Made Easy:The Do-it-yourself Guide toFinding and Fixing Usability Problems. New Riders, 2010.• Cennydd Bowles, and James Box. Undercover User Experience: LearnHow to Do Great UX Work withTiny Budgets, NoTime, and LimitedSupport. New Riders, 2011.• Nate Bolt, andTonyTulathimutte. Remote Research: Real Users, RealTime, Real Research. Rosenfeld Media, 2010.• Mike Kuniavsky. Observing the User Experience:A Practitioner’sGuide to User Research. Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.
  25. 25. ONLINE MAGAZINES• Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox –• UX Design on Smashing Magazine –• UX Magazine –• UX matters –
  26. 26. THANKYOUdownload the slides from http://troubalex.decc-by-sa 2.0 – Alexandra Leisse – @troubalex