Notes on User Research (UX.Live Conference)
The 2nd year edition of a more mature UX.Live conference in London invited some fantastic speakers over the course of 3 days.
This blogpost summarises my notes and thoughts concerning User Research practice. It comments on talks by Alexander Muir (@Alexander108), Kasper Friis (https://uxplanet.org/@kafri), Saskia Liebenberg (@SaskiaLieb) and Etienne Fang (https://medium.com/@etiennefang).
Make sure to check out my other post about Design (UX.Live Conference)
Don’t optimize — differentiate!
Alexander Muir gave an inspiring workshop on planning and executing user research. He advised for innovation projects and improvement of services and systems to not (only) look at optimization. Yes, efficiency and effectiveness (key considerations in usability and UX) are crucial but a blind push for optimization might — in the worst case — only re-enforce existing and broken processes. It’s key to rethink processes — starting from the user — and aim at differentiation in our service offering.
Study Your Problem
A design inventory of existing (and competing) systems and services helps to build up a vocabulary of objects that can be involved/reassembled and build upon during the design phase.
A neat framework to structure the approach is provided by Disruptive Design Method. It outlines three phases:
- Problem loving — study and mine your problem and deeply empathize with the humans involved
- Systems Mapping — laying out the landscape, actors and datascape of a problem and its context, desk research on reports and terminology involved in a subject matter
- Ideation & intervention — generation of various new ideas, testing and implementation
- https://www.disruptdesign.co/the-disruptive-design-methodThe Disruptive Design Method — DISRUPT DESIGN https://www.disruptdesign.co/the-disruptive-design-method
- https://vimeo.com/219482990The Disruptive Design Method by UN Champion of the Earth Leyla Acaroglu on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/219482990
Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) are not great to actually inform how to improve a service. Neither capture the full picture when used in isolation. Alexander Muir spoke a refresher on a metric that has been around for a while — but is often ignored: Lostness, is a useful measure to evaluate navigation support and orientation in a user experience adding to the mix of classical usability metrics (Efficiency, effectiveness, satisfaction etc.)
- UX Metric Lostness (uxdesign.cc)
- Net Promoter Score: What a Customer-Relations Metric Can Tell You About Your User Experience
“Strong Opinions Lightly Held”
All innovation starts with some idea — and inherent bias. A useful notion how to deal with that, is the idea to articulate our opinions — hopes and fears — but encourage the team to overthrow these assumptions as soon as new research indicates otherwise. While user research (both quant and qual) aims for solid, reliable insight — it’s never going to be perfect. There is always the need for a user researcher to take a risk, decide on key observations and their interpretation.
The notion of small changes that hugely steer experience and outcome is particularly useful to articulate why a fair amount of research might only lead to a small (but impactful) change.
One thing a week + Layering Studies
Good advice for small design teams or smallish projects — was to continuously do one piece of user research a week, in order keep everyone in an experimenting mindset where testing and evaluation is a default — rather than an exception. Keeping — even limited — user research actionable is key — especially when working in agile teams. It is better to deliver 80% of something on time, rather than 100% of nothing. When planned carefully — many small pieces of interviews and user testing can be combined to build a more comprehensive picture.
Quantifying User Experience
User Experience is difficult to capture and quantify. Kasper Friis presented a research method using multidimensional scaling to make sense of similar — and different — experiences. This is commonly used in market research, but rarely made its way into UX, due to the required large sample size. Similar to Microsoft Reaction Cards, the method tries to describe experience through a bag of attributes — each ranked on a Likert scale. Projecting these different ratings — from multi dimensional to a 2-dimensional plot — can help elicit key attributes that made some experiences stand out.
- https://www.quirks.com/articles/don-t-forget-the-graphic-multidimensional-scalingFind Market Research Companies, Facilities, Jobs, Articles, More | Quirks.com https://www.quirks.com/articles/don-t-forget-the-graphic-multidimensional-scaling
- The method could be applied to evaluate and compare even the smallest aspect of an experience, e.g. which car door sounds the most robust or reliable https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9Ww5W26MTE — or experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2IUwElbCnc
ResearchOps, Knowledge Management + Kaleidoscope
Saskia Liebenberg presented on #ResearchOps which — similar to more known TechOps — is all about organisation, logistics and management of user research. Even for small design and research teams it might be useful to refer to — and contribute to — best practices laid out on http://researchops.community
Etienne Fang gave an inspiring talk about the insights platform Kaleidoscope at Uber that aims to collect learnings across the globe. It’s essentially a knowledge management platform to capture and organise any discovery about how users interact with a service. Each note is structured into:
- Who — which user was involved
- Where — geography and time
- What — observed situation
- Why — assumed explanation of the observation
Why there are all these people sprinkled through the post? User Research is all about people — find the full set of (beautiful) icons here People 2d Collection | Noun Project