Putting Users in UX: Research Methods for Strategy

Usability Matters
29 Apr 2015

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Putting Users in UX: Research Methods for Strategy

  1.     Putting Users in UX Episode 1 Research Methods for Strategy
  2.     Putting Users in UX Episode 1 Research Methods for Strategy Today Episode 2 Research Methods for Design Wednesday, May 27
  3.     Putting Users in UX Episode 1 Research Methods for Strategy Today Episode 2 Research Methods for Design Wednesday, May 27 Episode 3 Research Planning, Execution & Analysis Wednesday, June 24
  4. Terry Costantino + Steven LeMay
  5. What we’ll be talking about today Background •  User experience at the UX process •  Types of research and the research process Research Methods for Strategy 1.  Contextual Inquiry 2.  Interviews 3.  Surveys 4.  Focus Groups 5.  World Café Wrap-up
  6. What is User Experience? User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. Nielsen Norman Group
  7. UX Process Usability Testing A/B Testing Eye Tracking Heuristic Evaluation Contextual Inquiry Interviews Surveys Focus Groups World Café Usability Testing Collaborative Design Prototype Testing Usability Testing UX Panels & Hangouts
  8. Types of Research Quantitative Qualitative Questions What? Why? Purpose Generalizability Prediction Causal Explanations Exploratory Understanding Participants’ Perspectives Researcher Role Objective Observer Empathic Participant Setting Controlled Environment Naturalistic Environment Analysis Statistical Interpretive Adapted from: Siegle, Del. “Qualitative versus quantitative.” University of Connecticut-Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (2006).
  11. Getting Users into the UX Strategy 1.  Contextual Inquiry 2.  Interviews 3.  Survey 4.  World Café 5.  Focus Group
  12. 1Contextual Inquiry Fieldwork
  13. 1 Contextual Inquiry Go where your users go. Observing people use a product or service in the context of where it’s normally used.
  14. 2Interviews Insights from individuals or small groups
  15. 2 Interviews Interviews are structured conversations. •  Talking to users is simple •  Conversational, but focused •  In their natural surroundings is best
  16. 3Surveys Structured questions for a few or for many people
  17. 3 Surveys Qualitative surveys provide insights, not numerical data. •  Involve more people, across time and locations •  Standalone or use with another method •  Deliver online, in-person or by mail
  18. 4Focus Groups Gathering input from small groups
  19. 4 Focus Groups Rather than just gathering opinion, create a collaboration space. •  Create and test product vision and concepts •  Encourage interaction between participations •  Challenge client and design team pre-conceived notions
  20. 5World Café Gathering input from large groups
  21. 5 World Café Gather input form a large number of people in a single afternoon. •  Allows people to feel heard and to hear each other
  22.     Key Research Methods for Strategy
  23.     Putting Users in UX Episode 1 Research Methods for Strategy Today Episode 2 Research Methods for Design Wednesday, May 27 Episode 3 Research Planning, Execution & Analysis Wednesday, June 24
  24.     Thank You Terry Costantino and Steven LeMay Usability Matters 215 Spadina Ave., Toronto ON, M5T 2C7 416 598 7770

Notes de l'éditeur

  1. Hi everyone! Welcome to our webinar. We’re so glad you could join us today. I’m Anita Sedgwick, Director of Marketing and Sales at Usability Matters, and I will be hosting our new webinar series “Putting Users in UX”. While lots of people are responsible for creating user experiences, we are continually surprised by how few take the time to involve users in that process. So that’s the point of this series – to introduce you to research methods that bring your audience, the people that will be using your product, your technology, your services… into your design process. We see far to many products going to market without the right level of research and insights to ensure real success in the marketplace.
  2. In Episode 2, we'll examine the Research Methods for Design. Here’s where we will focus on ways to collaborate on design with your stakeholders and audiences as well as evaluation methods.
  3. In Episode 3, we’ll dive into the important mechanics of planning, conducting, and analyzing your research. We hope you’ll join us for all of these!
  4. For those you don’t know us, Usability Matters is a strategy, research and design studio located in Toronto. Global organizations, for over 13 years, continue to lean on our team of experts to deliver remarkable design experiences through rigorous research, beautiful design, and a relentless focus on the needs of the user. Visit our shiny new website for more information. Before we start, I’d like to highlight a couple housekeeping items:   We’ll be covering a lot of information today. Don’t worry about taking notes – we will be emailing you the link with the slides and the full recording.   Also, we will be watching the panel on your screen for any questions you might have. We’ll be sure to address as many as we can during our Q&A session.  
  5. Now I’ll introduce our presenters for today and throughout the series. Terry Costantino is one of the Principals at Usability Matters and Steven LeMay is a UX practitioner who has been with Usability Matters for almost all of its 13 years. I’m now going to turn it over to Terry to get us started …
  6. Thanks Anita. To get us all on the same page, I’m going to start with a bit of background – starting with what we mean by ‘user experience’ and the UX process and then a little about types of research and the research process. Then we’ll discuss some research methods for the strategy phase in more detail. [READ SLIDE] The aim is to - help you understand these research methods, - when to use them - and most importantly why to use them
  7. User Experience - or UX - is a term that describes a person’s overall satisfaction with a product or service.  It’s important because if it's a good experience, they're happy.  If it's a bad experience, they don’t come back. And they tell their friends…and they tell Google.
  8. Research feeds into all phases of the UX process: Strategy, Design and Development During Strategy (sometimes called Discovery) we figure out “what” we are trying to accomplish, “why” we’re doing it and “who” we’re doing it for. We will look at a number of research methods that answer these “what why and who” questions in more detail today. In the design phase of a project we figure out “how” the UX will unfold. There are a number of ways to bring users into the design phase and we’ll examine some of these methods in the second episode of this series in May. One of those is Usability Testing and you’ll notice it appears in all 3 phases: In strategy we may test the current version of a product as an input into the design of the next version – or to help make a business case for the need to do a redesign We most often do usability testing during Design where it can have the greatest impact on the new design In production we may do it as part of user acceptance testing or as an input to iterative design improvements We will go into depth about Usability Testing in the next episode so we won’t be covering it today. We also won’t be covering Heuristic Evaluation in detail – which is similar to usability testing but rather than reviewing with representative users, we do an expert review – one or two usability specialists will undertake common tasks and document the usability barriers and possible solutions. So, we will be talking about the 5 methods in bold but have included all 7 in a handy summary guide we’ll be providing to you later as a summary of the webinar.
  9. Before we dive into the methods, we want to make clear that all of the methods we will be discussing in this series are “qualitative research methods”. There are lots of differences between quantitative and qualitative research but in the simplest terms, quantitative research results in numbers and qualitative research results in words. They answer different kinds of questions, have different purposes, the researcher takes a different roles, the often have different settings, and and the type of analysis is different. That’s why they are both useful and especially useful when used in complementary ways.
  10. This slide shows the difference between the two approaches. Quantitative research usually starts with a theory and hypothesis and tests it. As mentioned, qualitative is more exploratory so it starts with the observation, looks for patterns and then forms an hypothesis and theory. Starting with qualitative research can lead to questions, hypotheses, and theories that can be validated with quantitative research. Starting with quantitative research, we can learn “what” is happening and use qualitative research to investigate “why’. “Why” is the rich, messy, emotional, human part that is needed to form a meaningful product or project strategy. This is why at Usability Matters we focus on qualitative research. And that’s why we will be looking at qualitative research methods in this series.
  11. No matter what type of research you are doing, these are the key steps in the process. READ SLIDE When we work with clients, we suggest they write down all the things they would like to know about their product – some are very tactical like “is that button in the right place” and some are very conceptual “do my clients understanding my service”. We then help them by grouping and prioritizing the questions and suggest one or more approaches to answering those questions. We’ll dig into this further and cover the rest of these steps in Episode 3 in June.
  12. For the remainder of our webinar, we will focus on some research methods from our UX toolbox that are appropriate for the strategy phase of a project We’re going to introduce each of these methods, talk about how, when and why to use them and hopefully give you the confidence to work them in to your UX efforts. My colleague Steven will start us off with Contextual Inquiry …
  13. Steven
  14. What is a contextual inquiry? The environment in which a product or service is used can have a profound effect on human behaviour. It affects product usability and it impacts what we learn when conducting research. Contextual inquiry is a fancy term for observing how people use a product or service in the setting or context in which it is normally used. It is a research method that allows us to account for the impact that the setting or context has on the user experience. When to use it If you anticipate that the setting may affect your product or service, contextual inquiry is essential. My colleague Simon picture here is not simply being the big kid in a little kid’s play area, this photo is from some contextual inquiry that we did with the Toronto Public Library.
  15. Why do it? Contextual inquiry was essential in our work with the Toronto Public Library. it shaped our understanding of the parents and children who use the library and what we should be designing for kids online. Contextual Inquiry shaped our strategy in several ways. For example, Parents and kids love the storytime programs in the library. By observing these storytime programs, we learned that helping parents gain the confidence to read, sing and play with their kids was essential to promoting early literacy. The success of these programs comes not from teaching parents how to teach their kids to read, but from modeling the fun interactions that foster language skills. Modeling over teaching became a key tenet of our strategy. We also learned that kids weren’t the only ones who were learning language skills in storytime programs. Often it was parents and caregivers who were also improving their English. This important observation directly impacted our understanding of the audience and how we could provide the best user experience for them online.
  16. What is this method Interviews are structured conversations. They are simple and should feel informal but they are not chit-chat. Interviews are built upon a solid research plan. It is important to pinpoint the issues and topics you wish to explore, and then craft a discussion guide that will lead to answers for your questions. When to use it Interviews are generally conducted early in the process. They help generate ideas, establish constraints and challenge pre-conceived notions. Why to use it Use this method to get inside users’ heads, to learn how they think about something. It can provide more depth than a survey. For example, on a recent project our client – a B2B service - knew that it was confusing for their customers to figure out which phone number they should call for one type of service vs. another, support vs. sales, small businesses vs. large ones and so forth but they thought of it as only a minor irritant. By conducting interviews with their customers, it became apparent that the issue was having a much more significant impact than our client imagined. The colour brought by the voices of real customers was essential in prioritizing improvements to the overall service design. Contribution to strategy Interviews can contribute to your strategy in lots of ways. They can help you: - Understand the context for users activities - Better understand user goals and priorities - Dispel myths about users
  17. A good place to start is by explaining its purpose of the interview, the types of questions you’ll be asking, and what you’ll do with the results. Then as a courtesy, ask if the participant has any questions before you begin. Once the groundwork is laid, start by building trust and rapport with the participant. An easy, question gets the ball rolling and puts the participant at ease. In the recent B2B customer interviews I mentioned, we got the ball rolling by light-heartedly asking participants what a typical business day looks like for them. Most laughed and said there was no such thing as a typical day. This humour allowed them to then paint a more descriptive picture of their job rather than just listing their official responsibilities. A good discussion guide is essential. The guide provides an overall structure to your questions helps ensure you get the information you need. The conversation may stray in many interesting directions and this should be encouraged. The discussion guide is your tool for keeping the conversation flowing and bringing back on track when it strays. A good overall structure often starts with general questions at the beginning, then more detailed questions once the conversation gets rolling, and finally, taper off to general questions at the end.
  18. What is this method Surveys can be crafted to be qualitative or quantitative research. If the purpose is to count responses and reach a generalizable conclusion – so quantitative - the structure of the survey and who participates in the survey must be strictly controlled so the results will be statistically significant. However, in qualitative research, the questions can be less structured and the purpose is to gain insights, not numerical data. When to use it Surveys are often a standalone method when we want to involve a greater number of people than can be reached by interview. Surveys can be incorporated into other methods as part of an interview, contextual inquiry or usability test. Another common use for surveys is to register or pre-qualify participants for usability testing or other study. Why to use it Online surveys are great for gathering input from a greater number of people regardless of time and location. Input can be highly structured or entirely open to fit the need of the research Depending on your questions, the output of surveys can be highly structured and can often be represented graphically in basic charts or as infographics. By their very nature, surveys are flexible. They can be delivered online by personal invitation or to random people who visit a website. They can be conducted live and in-person or by mail.
  19. Objectives When crafting a survey, you need to be very clear about the objectives and then be creative about how to present a set of questions that will meet those objectives. Recruit & Plan You also need to determine who you want to respond to the survey and how many responses you want and/or the length of the survey. Sometimes we run a survey for a week so that it will catch most people at some point in that week. Other times, we determine that we will close the survey when we get 200 completions. Remember a qualitative survey is about getting enough input to generate insights. Who you want to respond to the survey will drive other decisions such as the method of delivering the survey, how you will recruit respondents, as well as the questions themselves.
  20. Conduct We like to start with some easy-to-answer questions like simple multiple choice questions, like this one here …
  21. or brief open-ended questions. Doing these early can help get respondents’ spontaneous thoughts and language, which can be helpful when considering what to label elements in the design later.
  22. We then move towards more complex questions like ranking, seen here …
  23. rating scale … and
  24. matrix questions. You want the questions to flow naturally, mimicking an interview – so the questions feel related and build on each other. At of near the end, we often include an open-ended question to capture any thoughts that didn’t fit into the more structured questions. Open-ended questions are valuable but you have to use them carefully since many respondents may not take the time to answer numerous essay-style questions. And, open-ended questions generate a lot of data to analyze, which is great but also time-consuming. Before you make the survey available to your audiences, you need to test it thoroughly and also run a pilot with a few respondents who were not involved in creating the survey. And, once the survey has started, monitor the responses to make sure there are no problems with the content or technology. One time we stopped a survey on the first day because respondents were misunderstanding one question. We deleted all the responses from that day, fixed the question, and started again. Analyze & Report We use SurveyMonkey for most of our online surveys but there are plenty of other similar software services. For the most part, they make it easy to create, test, fix, and extract the data from surveys. However, there certainly is an art to interpreting the data and it is closely related to the art of crafting the objectives as well as the survey questions. If you’ve never created and analyzed a survey, it would be great to work with someone with experience on the first few surveys.
  25. What is this method Focus groups are a technique that help uncover opinions and feelings about a topic. It has traditionally been a part of the market research toolkit but it can have its place in UX strategy too. Rather than just gathering opinions, we use them to gather group knowledge, creating a space where participants can collaborate on the vision for a product or service. We also use them in collaborative design methods – which we’ll talk about in our next instalment in this webinar series: Research Methods for Design. When to use it It is useful early in a process when high-level opinions and collaboration can shape the project’s vision It is also useful to challenge pre-conceived notions. Why to use it The value of focus groups comes from the interaction of the participants – from their reactions to each others opinions and their opportunities to work together.
  26. In a typical focus group, a small number of people gather around a table to discuss topics and questions posed by a moderator. A virtual gathering works too but in-person is preferred due to the richness of non-verbal communication. Physical gestures like eye-rolling, arm-crossing, leaning in and pushing away from the table are great cues to spark deeper questions. Often, a formal research facility is used in order to accommodate for observers behind one-way glass. This allows project stakeholders to see and hear their customers first-hand, before the research findings are analyzed and reported on. Due to the group dynamic, it can be a real challenge to keep the discussion both free-ranging and focused. A well-planned discussion guide is essential. The entire session may be a group discussion or their may be segments where you ask the participant’s to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. Your session may include the introduction of artifacts, materials, and probes so these will need to be carefully considered and created in advance. Running a pilot session is always useful. Coming out of the Focus Groups you should have a much better understanding of your audiences, their feelings about the topic and/or the artifacts you introduced, and, if collaboration was included, you may have some new artifacts that need to be interpreted.
  27. The World Café is a great technique for gathering input from a large group of people in a very short time – a single afternoon is ideal.
  28. The World Café is a great technique for gathering input from a large group of people in a very short time – a single afternoon is ideal.
  29. In a large organization, different parts of an organization may have very different needs. Or they may think their needs are unique in part because they don’t often get a chance to share them with each other. The World Café allows people not only to have input into a process but also to hear each other. It is also a very efficient way to gather lots of input in a very short period of time. As the name suggests, you set up number of tables café style in a large room 6 to 8 participants and a facilitator per table After about 10 minutes, the table breaks up and everyone moves to a new table Mix it up – don’t move as a group
  30. One question per table – e.g. How does the current website help or hinder your users or What are some of your peers or competitors doing really well or Blue sky – if there were no constraints, describe the ideal website for your organization. One thought per sticky note.
  31. Once the participants have visited each table, they break off for coffee and a snack. During this break, the facilitators take 10 or 15 minutes to very quickly summarize the key points that we heard. The group then reassembles and the summaries are presented back to the group. This live summary demonstrates to the participants that they have indeed been heard, that we have been listening carefully and it provides a great wrap-up for everyone involved.
  32. Out of this comes lots and lots data in the form of sticky notes. Initially, the sticky notes are arranged by question.
  33. Then the analysis begins. We look for common themes and patterns among the sticky notes, shuffling them around until we have grouped them by theme. Out of this analysis comes a broad set of features and requirements and all of it ties directly back to the people who participated.
  34. We have put together this handy one page chart comparing research methods for strategy which Anita will distribute after today’s webinar. It’s a what / why / when / where cheat sheet for the methods we talked about today plus some additional ones that we hope you’ll find useful.
  35. Thanks so much for listening in. As promised we will be following up with an email where we will share a link to download this webinar. We will also be posting the summary slide referenced by Steven. This one pager will help you assess which methods are best for you and your organization. Be sure to keep it handy! At Usability Matters, we have ongoing resources, articles, and updates on upcoming events on our website ( and you can follow us on twitter via @umatters or on LinkedIn for tons of great UX tips as well as updates on upcoming events.   Please be sure to register for our next webinar where we will focus on ways to collaborate on design with your stakeholders and audiences as well as evaluation methods.
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