UX & limited resources

Process & Research Methods

Inês Bravo
Apr 25, 2017 · 7 min read

Not all companies are not exclusively user-centric mindset when approaching digital products/services. How to decide and do business thinking about the user is not core. In a scale, organisations are taking the first step toward a user-centric strategic thinking. So, knowing this, and knowing that the market is moving in that direction, my approach is to look for places to improve.

To contribute to the research project, and adding to my critical thinking of the current situation, a set of action were taken. Interviews were conducted with professionals working in the digital scenario, from designers to researcher and product managers that help me frame my thoughts about UX Strategy & Design; how products and services are designed nowadays and their context.

Design is trending but how easy or hard is to incorporate a more user-centric approach to a day to day operation is the starting point. From developing a project from scratch and also continuous enhancement of online/deployed projects (products/services), this is the point of departure of my reflections and research.

During the months that the project was conducted, tiredness of the subject and frustration was encountered, and some u-turns happened (organisation changed, leading to people being replaced, overall strategy was modified), but at the end the process leads me to understand deeply the disciplines and the work that I have been conducting, in a more structured way. As facing the challenge of a design project, initial research was conducted. Stages undertook the research project:

Interviews and observation moments Frame the questions: participants were challenged to look into their processes. The goal was to get a range of ideas, ways of thinking and cultural evidenced from answers.

Ideation and exploring topics Since the research is conducted inside and outside the workplace, exploration of subjects, work done by design, test assumptions with colleagues happened. Talks with experts, desk research, observations and interview findings were collected.

Cluster and codify
The main ideas were organised, combined common ones and tag with keyword helping filtering findings.

Prioritise, set assumptions and test
As common trends emerge, a set of actions was selected to tackle the findings. Clustering the findings and categorise by impact — high or low — help determines the main impact and applicability.

Each one of us sees and experience things differently; analysing others work experience enhance with professional knowledge

It is a hard task to think differently. The first attempt to do so, individuals often find the same norms framing our thoughts. The second step is explaining what can one see differently and manage others views and expectation.

Human perspective. Qualitative research was conducted to understand and study the context of the field of User Experience applied in the workplace. The research leads to investigate how and which User Centred Design methods are used. For that, desk research, observation, surveys, interviews were conducted during the timeframe of the research project, helping formalise and test the assumptions. Insights were drawn, and limitations are stated.

Observations. Activities were observed within the workplaces, to understand and document the User Centred Design processes. Constraints and reasons of use are described. Data was collected using ethnographic methods such as field notes, photographs and screen captures. When documenting and observing tools used, the action took place based on the method cards, instruments and definitions provided by Design Thinking Agency UsTwo (2014) where is also compare the three stages before Delivery (define, immerse and create) of the design process. Notes as to what form they took if they are being used with adaptations and why (Martin and Hanington, 2012) were collected.

Desk research and secondary data. Desk research occurred were talks during professional events, journal articles, magazine articles and books written in the field are considered too critical analyse the assumptions and findings. A set of theoretical definitions is configured to establish the ground floor for the research. Desk research combined with observation also helped to determine which tools to observe and to test.

Surveys. To determine the stage for the discipline of user experience inside the workplace, a research UX matrix model was constructed leading to conduct a study of the organisation.

Interviews. A set of interview questions was committed to understanding and research outside the workplace, having industry-relevant professional participants solicit to engage with the research. The aim was to understand their practice, their work environment and how to design research is used in day to day work. Collaborating with fellow designers and stakeholders to understand how design problems are solved inside their organisations when creating digital products.

Design Research. From analytical and qualitative data was considered to understand how users interact with the product that based the study and research in hands, were methods like observation and testing were considered.

Field research. The project conducted involved the recruitment of experienced professional, for data and expertise collection. Design professionals, with different levels of management, having a direct impact on designing digital products and/or services, with various level of management inside their organisations. The criteria for selection is based on professional knowledge and expertise related to the subject researched. The project also involves participation in a survey about habits and routines.

Ethics and research. To conduct this research accordingly to Teesside University principles for the ethical conduct of research, a set of principles were taken into consideration:

  • The research is designed and undertaken to improve professional contextual expertise;
  • The participants are fully informed about the purposes and methods used during the research, what is the objective of their participation. The benefits of the work are stated in an accurate, clear, and easily understood manner;
  • Consent is to participate in a freeway is asked;
  • Confidentiality of data gathered by the researcher is a priority, being personal details being anonymised;
  • Independence of the research is clear and conflicts of interest are disclosed.

Consent and data anonymised criteria. Consent is recorded by audio or/and in the form of written authorisation. Reputational risk were taken into consideration, from an individual perspective has from an organisation one. The intellectual property of the solution presented is acknowledge.

When analytical data is considered, is referenced by “Quantitative data” and the usage considered is anonymised, were elements could be identified, such as brands and actions that identify participants, actions are deemed to anonymiSe the findings.

Qualitative data will be also anonymised, using data range, not being specific detailed about participant’s actions; removing brands and specific known names; taking action to not being able to identify people’s faces on photos or videos. A set of secondary analysis of data is taken into consideration during the research project. The data previously collected by research, but not as part of the current project, will be anonymised.

For the commercial protection of the products/service of known and established commercial brands, the use of research findings and data will be kept anonymised. The publication of findings and use of research is restricted. To pass this restriction, a specific authorisation from the author is mandatory.

Inside out: When not stated otherwise, the report is based on observations and work done in the organisation. Digital design is the common ground and the context of research. Products and services are designed, deployed, and maintained at constant pace. Moreover, the study is done more deeply over a period of 12 weeks, from October till December 2015, complemented by research and reflections during September 2015 and January 2016. Work context disclosure: for the purpose of this research, the organisation business that was the stage for the study is exclusively the digital one — from conceptualisation to live distribution — spread across multiple platforms.

Outside in: The research time has evident limitations. To conduct and accurate assessment, the period is not enough to assure stickiness in the transition that any organisation face. As an individual and a team need to move from one stage to another, the importance of self-awareness is translated in the day to day activities and the work latitude that each other have.

I’ve started to research Behaviour Design and what that implies for a design where data is everywhere. Facing that initial research subject, I realise that I needed to review, think and analyse the way that I work and others work — inside my organisation and outside. From there, I had to take a step back and research the foundations of a user-centric approach in business and the value proposition to invest on that.

My research process started with this question in mind: Design impacts behaviour, can we design for behaviour? I started by reading books, journals and blog post from industry experts. I have talked to industry professionals and discuss what professionals have to face. After desk research was conducted, I develop a mind map to help me illustrate and visualise the data that I have collected so far. With this in mind, it was easier to understand and connect subject and data that help me frame better the work that I have developed and wanted to do. Primary objective is to solve a small problem, step by step and influence the resolution of a bigger problem. The work is based on:

  • Experience design and how can designers do better work — with qualitative and quantitative research in mind;
  • Human habits and how to switch or influence them;
  • How environment culture can influence UX strategy;
  • Test assumptions and interviews professionals

Originally published at ines-bravo-ux-ltd-resources.squarespace.com
January 2016

Inês Bravo: Industry Research Project . MA Digital Media Management (PT Crew 1) — Hyper Island, London, UK . October 2015 / January 2016
Contacts www.inesbravo.com

Research project

The mindset for professionals who wants to create a better UX practice, with limited resources  —  Industry Research Project, MA Digital Media Management Hyper Island (October 2015 / January 2016)

Inês Bravo

Written by

user experience designer. strategist. visual geek. consultant. digital management. www.inesbravo.com. lisbon lover & world traveller. hyper island alumni.

Research project

The mindset for professionals who wants to create a better UX practice, with limited resources  —  Industry Research Project, MA Digital Media Management Hyper Island (October 2015 / January 2016)