Introduction to AgileUX: Fundamentals of Customer Research


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This is an introduction to the fundamentals of doing customer research for AgileUX teams. We talk about the reasons for doing real research, how to conduct on-site contextual interviews, the process to use, and how to analyze and social the results from the research.

Research is usually conducted to gain a deep understanding of the client’s target users in order to apply a customer-centered approach to the strategic development of the client’s brand and product in the context of an Agile development process. In addition, research seeks to reveal insights into how the target customers user products in their particular context and feed those findings immediately into the scrum's decision-making and development process.

User Research takes the position than human behavior and the ways in which people construct and make meaning of their worlds and their lives are highly variable, locally specific as well as intersubjectively reflexive. In AgileUX Product design, contextual inquiry and other methods of user research asserts that we must first discover what people actually do, the reasons for doing it, and just as importantly, how they feel while doing it, so that AgileUX Teams are always making product design decisions on actual customer feedback and behavior, and not opinion or instinct.

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Introduction to AgileUX: Fundamentals of Customer Research

  1. Will Evans @semanticwill Yana Kuchirko @mslogophiliac
  2. 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko “ Insight about customer behavior and work patterns were never discovered sitting at your fucking desk.”
  3. Why Customer Research 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  4. 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko The tendency, especially in design and product development processes, to believe everyone uses digital technologies exactly like you do. Andres Glusman
  5. “ Customers are terrible at articulating what they do. When asked what they do, people give their impression of what they do—which is usually horseshit” 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  6. AgileUX Customer Research Specific Context: Specific Users: Specific Goals: 01/29/12
  7. Types of AgileUX Customer Research 01/29/12
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  9. 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  10. What is contextual inquiry? 01/29/12 ~ Beyer & Holtzblatt Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  11. 01/29/12 Every ideation and design cycle should start with a contextual inquiry into the full experience of a customer and his/her. In AgilexUX, a regular cadence of lightweight research constantly cycled back into the scrum team allows for rapid validation of ideas. Contextual inquiry clarifies and focuses the problems a customer is experiencing by discovering the Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  12. 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  13. Get to know your user Before starting contextual inquiry process, you should establish rapport with your user since you’ll have to watch him/her working as “naturally” as possible Establishing expectations of roles is crucial to gathering rich, unbiased data. Inquiry process should be driven by the participant’s work rather than interviewer’s questions 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  14. Customer-Researcher Relationship Types 01/29/12 <ul><li>Master/apprentice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The customer is a master from whom you will </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be learning the trade </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Partnership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewer partners with customer to extract </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>details of his/her work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interviewer/interviewee </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewee responds to specific questions asked </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>by the interviewer (entails hierarchy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Expert/novice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer is an expert in his domain, and shares this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>experience with the researcher/novice (entails hierarchy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Guest </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Researcher’s comfort is the central focus of the inquiry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(entails hierarchy) </li></ul></ul>Suggested roles Roles to avoid Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  15. Inquiry Process: Introduction & Warm-Up 01/29/12 <ul><li>Set up expectations for the observation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasize your role as an “observer” and “learner” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ask general questions about the participant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is a typical day like for you? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kinds of tasks do you do regularly? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are some occasional tasks? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where does today’s task fit in the day? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are common roadblocks? </li></ul></ul>(master vs apprentice) Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
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  17. Inquiry Process: Main Observation 01/29/12 <ul><li>Observe the participants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are they doing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What tools are they using? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How are they using the tools? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have they developed any work-arounds? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Occasionally ask for the participant to describe what they are doing, providing any necessary explanations, clarifications, walk-through of actions. </li></ul><ul><li>Take copious notes. Video record, if possible. </li></ul>Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  18. Inquiry Process: Follow-Up & Wrap-Up 01/29/12 <ul><li>Follow-Up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>After the main observations, ask the participant any follow-up questions you may have regarding your observation which his/her memory is still fresh. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wrap-Up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask the participant about his/her experience and perspective on the inquiry process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Was anything anxiety provoking? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Was there anything you would like to have been done differently? </li></ul></ul>Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  19. Inquiry Results: What to collect 01/29/12 <ul><li>What tools do participants use? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Formal tools? Informal tools? What brands? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Behavior sequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Order of actions is important to understanding how the participants think about the task </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Methods of organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do the participants organize the information they use ? (out of necessity, convenience, importance?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What kinds of interactions do participants have? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the important parties in the transfer of knowledge? Are they people? Are they processes? Is the information shared? What is the nature of the interaction? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collect Artifacts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Artifacts are the non-digital tools people use to help them accomplish the tasks they’re trying to do. (ex: if you are interested in learning how people schedule their events, photograph their daily calendar) </li></ul></ul>Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  20. “ The output from customer research is not a neat hierarchy; rather, it is narratives of successes and breakdowns, examples of use that entail context, and messy use artifacts” Dave Hendry 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  21. Research Analysis 01/29/12 <ul><li>What are people’s values? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People are driven by their social and cultural contexts as much as their rational decision making processes. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the mental models people build? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When the operation of a process isn’t apparent, people create their own models of it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the tools people use? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is important to know what tools people use since you are building new tools to replace the current ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What terminology do people use to describe what they do? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Words reveal aspects of people’s mental models and thought processes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What methods do people use? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flow is work is crucial to understanding what people’s needs are and where existing tools are failing them. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are people’s goals? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding why people perform certain actions reveals an underlying structure of their work that they may not be aware of themselves. </li></ul></ul>Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  22. 01/29/12 Will Evans | Manager, User Experience Design “ People from different teams engaged in affinity diagramming is as valuable as tequila shots and karaoke. Everyone develops a shared understanding of customer needs, without the hangover or walk of shame” 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  23. Research Analysis: Affinity Diagrams 01/29/12 <ul><ul><li>Creates a hierarchy of all observations, clustering them into themes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From the video observations, 50-100 singular observations are written on post-its </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(observations ranging from tools, sequences, interactions, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>work-arounds, mental models, etc) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With entire team, notes are categorized by relations into themes and trends. </li></ul></ul>Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  24. 01/29/12 Will Evans & Yana Kuchirko
  25. Thanks!