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Highlights from Just Enough Research by Erika Hall - User Experience Abu Dhabi Meetup - UX UAE
The User Experience (UX) Abu Dhabi Meetup is a monthly gathering for UX practioners, UX fanatics and anyone curious about User Experience Design. All are welcome! UX Abu Dhabi is sponsored by UX UAE which looks to grow User Experience awareness and practice in the UAE and MENA.
This presentation was created for the October 2014 meetup and has highlights from the book Just Enough Research by Erika Hall .
Lean Startup & Lean UX 2 Day Bootcamp
• Will Evans is a world recognized expert in Lean Systems, LeanUX and
Design Thinking to global corporations from NYC to Berlin to Singapore.
Will is also the Design Thinker-in-Residence at NYU Stern’s Berkley Center
for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where he lectures and consults on
Design Thinking, Lean UX, and Lean Startup methodologies.
• He lives in New York, NY, and drinks far too much coffee. He Co-Founded
and Co-Chaired the LeanUX NYC conference, and is the User Experience
track chair for the Agile 2013 and Agile 2014 conferences.
• Discount code - meetupvip the first 10 people from UX Abu Dhabi
Meetup will receive a 10% discount for early bird tickets purchased by
Research is a tool—a
periscope offering you a
better view of your
Once you start getting
answers, you’ll keep asking
And that skeptical mind-set is
more valuable than any
The better you know the current
state of things and why they’re like
that, the better you will be
positioned to innovate.
Avoid arguments about statistical
significance; you will not win.
Instead, keep the focus on
gathering useful insights.
Research is just another name for
critical thinking. With a little
encouragement, everyone on your
team can open their minds and
embrace it. And together, we can fix it
so no one contemplating a web project
ever mentions focus groups again.
People who have a hand in collecting
the insights will look for opportunities
to apply them.
Being the smart person is more fun
than obeying the smart person, which
is how the researcher/designer
dynamic can feel if designers are
merely the recipients of the analysis.
Your desire to find out needs to be
stronger than your desire to predict.
Otherwise you’ll be a mess of
confirmation bias, looking for
answers that confirm what you
You need to be able to
depersonalize the work.
There are no hurt feelings
or bruised toes in
research, only findings.
Unless this knowledge comes from
recent inquiry specific to your
current goals, a fresh look will be
Familiarity breeds assumptions
and blind spots.
Research needs to be
integrated into process
and workflow or it will
get shoved in a corner.
“Poor user experiences inevitably come
from poorly informed design teams.”
- Jared M. Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering
Design happens in context. And
research is simply understanding that
Research happens in a context
Your professional environment
should inform the research
activities you choose and how
you go about them.
Instead, you have to commit to research
personally as part of how you work, make your
case for it, and be sure to include it in your fee.
Research will make your design stronger and
enhance your ability to defend your decisions
to the client.
An existing product means that a glorious
data trove exists: customer service!
Customer service is where actual,
individual human needs and expectations
crash headfirst into reality. If you have
ready access to the customer service
representatives, talk to them.
“There are things we know that we
know. There are known unknowns—
that is to say, there are things that we
now know we don’t know. But there are
also unknown unknowns—there are
things we do not know we don’t know.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, former US secretary of defense
Addition to offering the clarity and confidence
necessary to design, research is essential to reducing
your risk—the risk you incur by relying on assumptions
that turn out to be wrong or by failing to focus on what’s
most important to your business and your users.
However, some assumptions are higher-risk than
Better understanding of online
shoppers mitigates the risk by
validating the assumption and
informing your design with real user
In addition, you might uncover
opportunities to provide something of
even greater value to that same
All it takes to turn potential
hindsight into happy foresight is
keeping your eyes open and
asking the right questions.
Failing isn’t the only way to learn.
No matter how much research you do,
there will still be things you wish you’d
known, and there are some things you
can only learn once your design is out
there in the world.
Design is an iterative process.
Questions will continue to
Some of them you can
answer with research
and some you can only
answer with design.
1. Define the problem.
2. Select the approach.
3. Plan and prepare for the research.
4. Collect the data.
5. Analyze the data.
6. Report the results.
1. Define the problem
You need a clear problem statement to
describe your topic and goal 'the WHAT'
so you know when you're finished
2. Select the approach
If your question is about users themselves,
you’ll be doing user research, or ethnography.
If you want to assess an existing or potential
design solution, you’ll be doing some sort of
As a single question comes into focus you
might conduct multiple studies or take one of
several potential approaches
Fig 3.1: The topic and nature of your questions will guide your
choice of research activities.
3. Plan and prepare for the
• In the beginning, don’t worry about getting
everything right. If you don’t know, go with your
best guess. Since research is about seeking out
new information, you’re going to encounter new
situations and unpredictable circumstances. Make
friends with the unexpected. And prepare to
change the plan you’ve made to adapt once you
4. Collect the data
• A simple interview remains the most effective way
to get inside another person’s head and see the
world as they do. It is a core research technique
with many applications.
• Once you are comfortable conducting research
interviews, you can apply this skill to any situation
in which you need to extract information from
5. Analyze the data
• What does it all mean? Once you have collected
the data, gather it all together and look for
meaningful patterns. Turn the patterns into
observations, and from those, recommendations
• Refer to your initial problem statement and ask how
the patterns answer the questions you originally
6. Report the results
• The output of the analysis session is generally a
summary report and one or more models.
• The only way to design systems that succeed for
imperfect humans in the messy real world is to get
out and talk to people in the messy real world.
• Once you start researching, you won’t feel right
designing without it.
• Every time you find a product or service that’s a joy to
use, meets a need maybe you didn’t even know you had,
and fits seamlessly into your life, you know that someone
on the other end asked hard questions.
Next UX Abu Dhabi Meetup
• Nov 17 @ 6.30pm
This year we are going to celebrate World Usability
Day in the UAE by doing something a little different.
The plan is to have a session were you can bring in
your app or site and get a quick free expert usability
There may even be a talk, more details soon, so
lock this into your calendar.
Next UX UAE Meetup
• Tue Nov 25th @ 6.30pm
Steve Baty, principal at Meld Studios, has over 14 years experience
as a design and strategy practitioner. Steve is well-known in the area
of experience strategy and design, contributing to public discourse
on these topics through articles and conferences.
Steve serves as Vice President of the Interaction Design Association
(IxDA); is a regular contributor to UXMatters.com; serves as an editor
and contributor to Johnny Holland (johnnyholland.org), and is the
founder of UX Book Club – a world-wide initiative bringing together
user experience practitioners in over 80 locations to read, connect
and discuss books on user experience design. Steve is co-Chair of
UX Australia – Australia’s leading conference for User Experience
practitioners; and Chair of Interaction 12 – the annual conference of
the IxDA for 2012.