Day in the life Study — User Research

A case study of User Research conducted on an Enterprise Application

What is Day in the life study? — An ethnographic research to demonstrate the various product touchpoints with a user within the context of their daily activity or life.

What is an ethnographic research? — Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where researchers observe and/or interact with a study’s participants in their real-life environment.

To comply with non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of BNY Mellon.

Challenge

Nothing is permanent in this world.Everything has a saturation point,that's the true part of the life.So is the case in the softwares.

The software/application life-cycle typically includes the following: requirements analysis, design, construction, testing, installation, operation, maintenance, and retirement.So its important that before the retirement phase,the software is reworked and made compatible.Within BNY Mellon,there are lot of applications nearing end of life.As a UX Team,it was our job to do research on these applications and propose a better solution.In 2017, A day in the life study was conducted with a vision to redesign “PT Online” application in future.

My Role

I collaborated with Senior UX Researcher to plan and conduct the user research.In the process, I worked together with Operation Team.

Understand the Goal

It was important to define the goal and what we want to achieve out of this research.We started by defining high level goal.

To understand what the product is currently behaving(process and flow) and should be doing (the needs and wants of users) before worrying about whether the product is doing that thing correctly (usability).”

Research Plan

PT Online: Day in the Life Study

“Will be conducted by Gagandeep Singh, UX Designer based in Pune”

Users : BNY Mellon Operation Team

Location : BNY Mellon UX Lab,Pune

Background : PT Online came into existence in early mid 2000’s.Pt Online plays an important role to find out the list of tasks for an operation user on daily basis. It also ensures the completion of tasks. This team operates from Houston, Pune and Chennai.

Functions/Tasks

  1. Tax Processing
  2. Non Loan/Research
  3. Trade Queue
  4. Restructure
  5. Trade qc
  6. Ratings

Methodology : The plan was to conduct a day in life study and get more concrete data from real users. The target number of users were 5–8.

Research Questions : To capture the best insights, the idea was to go and talk to at least one user from each task. The questions would be adaptive but here are the few basic questions that can make a huge difference.

What is your primary role?

How long have you been with BNY Mellon?

How long you have been in the same department?

Are there other teams anywhere who does the similar job?

How do you start your day?

Who assigns work to you or how do you know that what all work you have for the day?

Which all applications do you use to complete the tasks?

User Research Location

We always wanted to go to user’s desk and conduct this research but it was not an easy task to get approvals on these type of studies,one of those organization’s rules and regulations.So we decided to conduct this study in UX lab where an artificial environment was created with an aim to give them a feel of real environment.

The Lab consists of Participant Room and Observer Room.It is built in such a way that user can capture each and every action of the user via display screens or just by looking on the other side of mirror.The user was given a desktop and access to all the applications which they need to complete a particular task.We spent 2–3 hours with each user. Ideally we should have spent the whole of their working hours with them but again that’s all we got the approval for; just 2 hours for one user.The whole session was recorded using Morae Software.

Pre Research Phase

Since the users were coming from different team, the first step was to get all the approvals from their respective managers. Before taking users to lab,we used to sit with them for at least couple of minutes to make them comfortable.An overview was given during this time as well about the user research.We made it very clear that we are not interrogating or investing you, we are here to know you and the work you do. We told them to be yourself during the whole process.Only when they say we are ready to go, we would start our research.

Image Credits : https://goo.gl/images/Ub9WGk

Research Phase

It was important to keep them engage during the whole research, we had a set of basic questions and after that we focused on asking them open ended questions rather than close ended questions.We always wanted to listen to their experiences and capture them.We also paid attention to observe their actions,facial expressions because sometimes what user say or do doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she feel the same. So we captured those moments and validated those with the users after the research.Though we were recording the sessions but we never stopped taking notes during the whole process. Again we validated some of those points from our notes with users in the end.

Post Research Phase

Feedback is very important for designers/researchers especially when you have access to real users.So,we didn’t miss the chance to sit with them for sometime after the end of research and take their feedback. It actually helped us during analysis and report generation.Many of them were frank enough and agreed to talk if needed during analysis.We also validated few things with them which we want to.

Analysis and Report

Once we covered all the users, I created basic report for each user and validated the same with my Senior UX Researcher.He later on went on to create Usability Report out of it. We always went back and forth when needed in terms of looking into the recordings or if needed have a couple of minutes conversation with user again.

Learnings

This was the first taste of UX Research project for me.I understood how hard it is to keep someone interested in a long conversation but it was fun. Using UX Lab was big experience,not many get this opportunity in early stages of their career . More than that it was good to know different personalities and work they do. It was an amazing experience.

I hope that you enjoyed reading the case study as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Let’s be friends. Connect me on Linkedin.

I am looking for a full-time UX Designer role. If you are looking to hire one, I would love connect with you.

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