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User research

User Research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. (source: Wikipedia)

How to turn UX research into results

The application of research results is always up for debate.

“To move from your research findings to product changes, you should set yourself two main goals. First, to effectively communicate your findings to help your audience process them and focus on next steps. Secondly, to follow through by proactively working with stakeholders to decide which issues will be addressed and by whom, injecting yourself into the design process whenever possible. This follow-through is critical to your success. Let’s look at an end-to-end process for embracing these two main goals.”

Cindy McCracken a.k.a. /cindy-mccracken | @cmccracken ~ UX Mastery

User research when you can’t talk to your users

Nielsens First Law of User Research: Never listen to users, observe them.

“It’s not breaking news to say that the core of UX, in a vacuum, is talking to your users to gather insights and then applying that information to your designs. But it’s equally true that UX does not happen in a vacuum. So what happens when you don’t have the budget or the timeline to run user tests, card sorts, or stakeholder interviews? What should you do when your company doesn’t want you bothering the paying customers who use their software? In short, how do you do UX research when you can’t get direct access to your users?”

Jon Peterson a.k.a. /jonpetersonuxdesign | @jp_pete ~ A List Apart

UX Research is the biggest bang for the buck most companies fail to invest in

Research comes in many shapes for digital design.

“The problem I see with having a UX Designer without a UX Researcher is that as a company, you develop the illusion that you are doing enough to comprehensively assess and change the user experience in a way to get the optimal results out of your investment. And, truth be told, many UX designers do a little bit of everything highlighted in this article. But they don’t do enough. They can’t. There simply isn’t enough time in a day to both create the user experience and validate its effectiveness. Moreover, as we saw above, there’s a wide variety of techniques through which User Researchers monitor, analyze and report on user experience developments.”

Craig Tomlin a.k.a. /wcraigtomlin | @ctomlin

Beyond the lab: Gathering holistic, qualitative user experience data

Making UX measured. The power of numbers.

“The field of User Experience is increasingly under pressure to gather qualitative data in shorter amounts of time. As a UX professional, I’m on the hunt for novel methods and approaches that facilitate the collection of meaningful information about users’ emotions and engagement. A central tenet of User Experience is the importance of gathering revealing, informative, powerful data about the user experience by engaging with users. For example, during usability tests, users interact with Web sites, applications, products, and concepts and give us detailed feedback as they go. Whether you are a UX designer, developer, marketer, engineer, or in executive leadership, seeing users use your product first hand is invaluable.”

Heather Wright Karlson a.k.a. /hwrightkarlson | @uxheat ~ UXmatters

10 practical tips for increasing the impact of your research insights

We’re still at the level of (practical) tips, tricks, and do’s/dont’s.

“Turning research insights into positive action is a combination of what you do but also what you are able to empower others to do. Knowing your audience and bringing the right mindset to the table can go a long way to making an impact in your organization.”

Mike Katz a.k.a. /mike-katz ~ Boxes and Arrows

UX research methods

After design validation, we need more and more design and user research methods.

“From new ideas to proven standards in user experience research, our toolkit is a rich collection of ways to understand people and context. The articles in this issue feature innovations, like new ways to explore emotional response, to unusual places to conduct research, like trains, ferries, and conferences.”

The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association

UX Reality Check: 14 Hard Truths About Users

Having to deal with other people is often a pain. Designers included.

“After any amount of time in the design industry, you’ll most certainly hear someone refer to users as “dumb.” People talk about having to “dumb down” interfaces, design for “the lowest common denominator,” and try to make applications “idiot-proof.” Designers say it themselves once in a while. The really terrible designers say it repeatedly. (…) This sort of thinking discounts a key component of good design: human psychology. Understanding some basics of user behavior, then applying them to design, is one of the most important things a company can do. Here are 14 things you should know about the people who use your websites and applications.”

Robert Hoekman Jr. a.k.a. /rhoekmanjr | @rhjr ~ FastCo.design

Make enterprise software people actually love

The call for excellent UX within the enterprise ecosystem is growing and growing.

“There is a big, important change happening in digital product design. For a long time, there has been a clear split between business software (often called Enterprise or B2B), and consumer software (B2C, or simply ‘products’). That split is increasingly irrelevant.”

(John Kolko a.k.a. @jkolko ~ Harvard Business Review)

The experience makes the product, not the features

Some interesting advice. Especially for tech and info startups.

“If anything detracts from the product’s core experience, stop making changes and release your product. You’ll get more insight by doing less and seeing how people engage with the product as it is, what behavior they exhibit, and reviewing this against your assumptions. This insight will always pay the greatest dividends as you strive for product market fit.”

(Lee Dale a.k.a. @smack416 ~ UX Magazine)

How to gather quantitative data on user behaviors and mental models

Design something and see how someone uses it. Revealing.

“As user researchers and UX designers, you have an almost endless number of techniques and tools to choose from when you embark on a design or redesign project. For us, closed card sorting and first-click testing provided the best balance of data, cost, and speed. We knew that these techniques would provide us with quick data to support our qualitative research, and results that would be easy to analyze and draw design recommendations from.”

(Jerry Cao a.k.a. @jerrycao_uxpin ~ The Next Web)

An introduction to user research techniques: Ways to understand your users and their needs

Research is the foundation for design to make informed decisions.

“This guidance provides a broad overview of the methods and techniques available to conduct user research. More detailed guidance on each of these techniques can be found in the links below. User research can be categorised into 2 broad themes: product research and strategic research.”

(Gov.uk)

Measuring digital skills: From digital skills to tangible outcomes (project report)

Digital design for humans is taking their skills, competences, and capabilities into consideration, a lot.

“As the Internet becomes an increasingly embedded part of everyday life for many people, research on digital inclusion has been criticized. There are concerns about the lack of strong theoretical developments within the field and the limitations of the survey measures typically used in this research domain. In this project, we have aimed to address these criticisms through developing theoretically informed survey measures of people’s digital skills, engagement with the Internet, and the tangible outcomes this Internet use has in their lives.”

(Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen, Ellen J. Helsper and Rebecca Eynon ~ Oxford Internet Institute)

Defining patient experience

Journal as a format. Online, public and to share.

“As patient experience continues to emerge as an area of research and practice in healthcare, the need for standard consistent definition becomes even more critical. Without a common foundation or at least a cornerstone on which to build or adapt, the efforts that follow are set on shaky ground. We offer these ideas not in the promotion of one idea over another, but in recognizing that in existing work and in the shared themes we uncovered there is a strong set of related concepts from which to grow. This will be critical to ensure patient experience remains a viable, respected, and highly embraced part of the healthcare conversation, as we believe it should.”

(Jason A. Wolf et al ~ Patient Experience Journal Volume 1Issue 1)

Designing digital strategies: Cartography

Designing mission, vision, and strategy. Making decisions with intent is the essence of design.

“As digital products and services come to comprise an increasingly important part of our everyday life, the division between the digital and the physical begins to blur. We can, for instance, see a washing machine on TV, read reviews of it online, purchase it on our phone, and have it installed by our local shop-all without leaving our computer. The sum total of these processes functions as a single, continuous experience. Designers can more prudently frame the experiences they create by incorporating ecosystem thinking into their process.”

(Sofia Hussain ~ UX Booth)

Mindful Design: What the UX world can learn from yoga

Mens sana in corpore sano a.k.a. Νοῦς ὑγιὴς ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ.

“Similarly with design, be clear about what your intentions are with your offering, whether a product or service. Internalize your mission and values, and let design be the expression of your intent. When your intentions are clear, so too are the fruits of your labor.”

(Irene Au a.k.a. @ireneau ~ The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association)

Fine-tuning user research to drive innovation

An important area of research, but still under-valued, under-developed, and under-practiced.

“User research that attempts to discover market-changing innovations faces many challenges. The more ambitious the innovation goal, the more difficult it can be to decide whom to study, what to look for, and how to make sense of the findings. Our reflections here are based on our experience collaborating on an ambitious project, in which we conducted in-depth contextual research with 54 people in eight enterprises. Its mission was to generate concepts for innovative solutions that would engage a large, new audience whose needs were not being addressed by existing products. In many respects, this was a dream project for researchers who wanted to introduce user-centered design into the product development process as early as possible.”

(David Siegel, Alex Sorin, Michael Thompson, and Susan Dray ~ Interactions Magazine sept/oct 2013)