The best way to understand the user is to meet him, listen to him, record the observations, analyze the data etc. All this is in order to make a product which will be as close as possible to “natural extension” of a human. It means a very minimal distance and friction between a thought and the actually goal achievement. For example distance and friction on the way from initial thought to pay for groceries to actual payment is limited to taking phone out and swiping it over (instead of going to ATM and then doing the shopping ). This is the stage which in the end confront business requirements and ideas about the product. The starting point is to first understand the user and a way to do it are various research methods.
Let’s look into the origin of these words: “recerche” from French means “to search”, “methodos” from Greek could mean “way or a knowledge”, so “research methods” we can translate to “search for knowledge or new way”. In case of UX process and the spoken activity app, this knowledge I look for is basically the answer to the following questions:
- When users are willing to consider out of home activities?
- How people choose activities?
- What do they think about current ways of finding activities, especially activity and events apps?
I am looking for the above answers which are the goal of my research. How to get this new knowledge – answers to these questions? The discipline is so wide and I came across over twenty different ways I could choose to look for that knowledge/answers. The obvious one is to just ask a user, and this method is an interview. With interview, however it’s critical to prepare correct questions, avoid any leading questions, etc – more about it below. The other way is to get the answers from as many users as I can and the popular method to do that would be via surveys. Surveys – too long and may not encourage many to fill it out or give honest answers, too short and will not provide sufficient data to dig out useful answers. Interview represents qualitative method ( describing observations), while survey – quantitative one (usually measuring observations ie. how often to you go to events in a month?).
Some other interesting methods could be eyetracking, camera studies, participatory design. It is generally recommended to do reasearch at any stage of the project. the before mentioned methods are suitable for the initial stage, but many others are suitable for middle or even last stages of product design. More information I recommend to check for in the article by Christian Rohrer – When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods.
My research methods
In my research I will focus on surveys and interviews. I decided to go with them as these are very inexpensive and quick methods to do. Another reason is simple fact that this is project is not a commercial one, doesn’t involve any budget and the work is done by one person team – which is me.
I have created survey “Get of an app App Survey” in Google Forms which you can check yourself in the link. Google made it very easy and quick to create, also the app is available for free. As you will see, I am trying to find out what events and activities people go to, where do they find about them, what was the experience, what is the psychology behind deciding about going or not going to out of home event.
I tried to use many multiple choice & single choice questions which are very quick to scan by the reader and few open questions expecting short answers. I experienced myself in the past that people are impatient and if the survey is long or requires too much, participants will either ignore it, skip some questions or do not give honest answers.
I sent the survey away on the 15th of August and the survey was active for one week. In the part 6 next week I will discuss some of the results. One of the lessons from that is too late I realized how important is to avoid leading questions. I am guilty – I have quite a few like that. Created them because of unclear meaning behind activity or events in my project. I wanted to point people what I meant by that. That was not a good idea. I know now that before sending surveys I need to do some test and show it to another UX designer, as it is easy to get blinded by own perspective. However, still the survey produced quite insightful outcome.
I wanted also to upgrade the over observations of survey’s quantitative nature (with very limited qualitative sections) and decided to go with interviews – 4 people, from various backgrounds. I conducted them within one week following the survey. The great source of information on how to do interviews I found in “Interviewing Users” by Steve Portigal. This is where I got a lot of great tips on how to prepare interviews ie.
- Stick to less than 8 conversations
- Ask open-ended questions
- Use your script as a guideline only!
- Avoid asking leading questions
- Be present. Taking notes is a good idea
- Listen, listen, listen
- Focus on their motivations and pain points
- Don’t interrupt
- Follow up on specifics from the interview by quoting
The tremendous influence I got from Steve’s book was to appreciate and allow silence in conversations and focus on observing uninterrupted thinking and reminiscing process by interviewer, letting spontaneity in, appreciate any unexpected or undesired answers and behaviors.
Here is a sample of a prospect that I used during my interviews:
Explain: this study is voluntary
In any publications that will follow, mostly on my blog, would you like me to refer to you anonymously… etc.
Do you grant permission to record, reproduce, display, and distribute your responses, voice, and likeness without any additional compensation or royalty…
Turn on recorder
Explain: who I am and why am I doing this
Confirm 20-25 min and you can stop at any time.
There are no wrong answers, this is information that helps us direct our work… etc
- Can you please tell little bit about yourself, what do you do and what are your hobbies?
- Can you tell me about some of the recent activities & events you have done anywhere outside of your house?
- Why did you decide to do them? Can you please tell me bit more about the context of the situation that impacted your decision then?
- Do you have any events or activities planned at the moment in Dublin?
- You mentioned about _________________________ (follow-up on specifics from interview), how did you plan them/ found them? how did you decide what to do?
- What categories or search phrases would you type to google for activities or events that you like?
- Have you ever participated in activities that you didn’t enjoy? Why did you make a decision to do them?
- Do you recall any problems recently in finding any activities or attractions in the city (examples)?
- If you could build your ideal searching experience to find exactly what, when & where you need, what would it be like?
- Imagine you only heard an application… it has an option to find activity based on emotional state like boredom, sadness, curiosity etc. including activities for people with anxiety or addiction problems. This is only information you heard. Based on this vague and incomplete information what was the first picture that you have in mind about it or how do you picture it?
Next week I will put together results from my interviews and surveys and talk a little about them. I will also use affinity map to better present teh results.