In Part II of our Science of UX mini-series, Kat breaks down the user research process – identifying key research methods and opportunities for design insight.
Missed Part I? Check it out, here.
Chapter 2: The Process
Begin with Secondary Research
This is the information that already exists like industry articles, research documents, statistics, and so on. This is your industry and user background, the kind of information you can use to develop a list of known qualities about their needs and build questions and research parameters around.
Whenever we begin working on a new project, the Architech strategy team (often joined by our design team) dives into online resources and client-provided information to understand the project and user needs.
This is the essential portion of the ethnography. During this time, the researcher embeds him or herself into the target society with the goal of learning through observation and participation. During this phase, the most important things to do are listen, watch, and inquire (without asking leading questions).
One of our teams working on a large industrial project spent time on-site interviewing and observing the employees and machine operators. What they learned through observation, among other things, is that the application is often used outdoors (insight: mobile-first required) frequently in bad weather, and late in the day (insight: design must account for inclement weather and for various lighting conditions) and that the employees and machine operators are typically fairly stocky men with heavyset hands (insight: action buttons need to be large for better accessibility).
Each insight gathered on-site significantly improved the quality of the application we were building.
These can be formal and informal. Informal interviews are probing conversations – frequently taking place naturally during fieldwork. Formal interviews are set up in a controlled environment and moderated by an experienced interviewer. The same industrial project mentioned above leveraged both formal and informal interviews – ranging from one-on-ones to group discussions, and white-board sessions. A lot of valuable insight was gathered during these sessions. For example, we learned that a number of pages from the original website were no longer required while a number of other ones could be combined.
Check out part 3, here.