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How can you be confident that you’re organising and labelling your content in ways that best meet the needs of the people using it? What appears logical in the data may not turn out to reflect the way your users see the world. It’s tempting to make assumptions about your users based on your own experiences, but it’s far better to find out directly from the users themselves. For effective information architecture (IA), user research is crucial for developing knowledge about users’ information seeking behaviours, the trigger words they're looking for, and how they understand the subject domain.
In this session we’ll look at what user research is and the role it plays in figuring out how to structure successful content-rich websites. We’ll take a whistle-stop tour of a toolbox of user research tools and techniques, and how to mix and match the methods to get the best results. For example, during a typical IA project you’d aim to balance the insights gained from search log and usage data analysis with more qualitative techniques such as interviews (to learn about people's information needs), card sorts (to get a sense of how people group and label content) and tree tests (to find out how people look for content). We’ll also briefly cover personas, surveys, contextual inquiry, usability testing, A/B testing, and diary studies. We’ll use examples to show how a better understanding of your users can help you to support them in finding what they need.
You’ll discover why it’s always important to do user research, what methods to use when, and how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls (like recruiting the wrong participants, asking the wrong types of questions, or doing the research in the wrong phase of a project). We’ll also discuss the challenges of finding the time and resources to do the research in the first place, framing it in order to challenge your assumptions, and finally making sure you can deliver value from it in ways that will most benefit your users.