That my team — a design team — does research, has at times confused colleagues unfamiliar with design methods. Some expect that customer research is produced solely from the market research team and that any design findings only come out of the usability lab. So, to set the scene on our latest field study I presented an introduction about how ethnography has played a part in the product design and innovation of many brands we are familiar with.
There are several sites I go to again and again for their original content and comprehensive resource lists of methods and tools. And who doesn’t love a list?
Are you recording enough after customer research encounters?
Noting behaviours, attitudes, and context during research encounters uncovers rich findings and helps to tell compelling customer stories. Just recounting what was said misses important data.
There are some great UX/UCD resources online — my favourites to date have been Service Design Tools and more recently UX Mastery. But today I was knocked out by the phenomenal effort to define and encapsulate design research activities in a cohesive project framework. It was all revealed by a rather innocuous tweet that did not quite foretell the brilliance ahead.
While I was a student I worked in retail. At one store we were encouraged (forgive me if you hate sales assistants) to ask open questions to invite conversation. It’s harder that it sounds. Years later while being trained in user research we were encouraged to ask why. Not only why, but as many whys as we could … and you know why … to get to the root cause, that deep fundamental driver of behaviour. Of course this too is not as easy as it sounds. Unless you’re a charming 5 year old asking why can sound pretty obnoxious and being asked why can make anyone feel quite defensive. I’m guessing advice like this has its roots in the famous 5 Whys, which I take to be a tool of analysis, not a script. If you disagree with anything here, or have more to add please say so in the comments.
Debriefing as soon as possible after your research encounter is vital. Push yourself beyond first impressions with these 10 questions.
I have a BUNCH of notes from books and articles I have read on design research. I had reason to revisit them all recently when I was writing a training course and thought to share them as a set of reference tools for others, you dear reader, and as a memory boost for me on our next field trip.
Design Thinking Drinks is an event organised by Deborah Kneeshaw and sponsored by Thoughtworks. It’s on every couple of months and last week’s event attracted a big and curious crowd for Chris Vanstone design co-lead of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) and one of the founders of agency In With For.
Ethnography for Marketers: A Guide to Consumer Immersion was recommended to me in 2007, I finally got round to reading it in 2010 and the other day I revisited the copious notes I took. This is a book about ethnography, research, projects and design. But why write a blog post that is a book review? Particular when the subject is essentially a text book?
What are diary studies?
Diary studies, otherwise known as User Research Diaries or “Cultural probes” were pioneered for use in design research by William “Bill” Gaver, Professor at Goldsmiths London. Interestingly he doesn’t analyse diary content, nor does he create scenarios or personas from them instead using them as a base from which to validate other data. He does not create personas, preferring instead to revisit the raw data.
I came across this video today made in 2008 by students from the IIT Institute of Design. It introduces design research and contextual inquiry and demonstrates what not to do when interviewing people. If your keen for tips on what makes or breaks a research session, its well worth watching.