Thanks-Thinking, that’s what I was going to call it, that’s how it was told to me in my dream and then I read the etymology of ‘Thanks’ On second thoughts, maybe that’s not too bad. Think-Thinking Continue reading
I like food a lot, mostly from an academic view point. I see so many concepts in the act of feeding that apply to other parts of life. So, naturally when I’m about to explain or share my thoughts on Design, Design-Thinking and UX, this comes to mind, also because we can all relate.
Design is the conceptualisation and creation of something. It is the process of converting ideas into a thing and actively shaping it into desired reality.
The first point to remember about design is that it’s a method of solving problems, overcoming challenges. Continue reading
Over the past couple of weeks, got the opportunity to attend a few UX-focused events.
Remote Research Tools
This was organised by The Research thing . We got to learn about three ways to carry out remote research; What Users Do, Session Cam and Nativeye which is the much needed tool for testing via mobile. Continue reading
Gaming means a lot to me, not only was it my introduction to the digital world, it gave me a sense of belonging as a teenager. So any opportunity I get to work with game creation, I tend to throw myself into it, and so with research as well.
This post is about some of the important tips, observations and experience I’ve had while running a research piece with kids. Continue reading
In User Experience we are fond of talking about empathy, but what does it really mean?
“Empathy is an important aspect of user-centered design (UCD) as it allows people being seen and understood from where they stand, not as test subjects but as persons with feelings”
Vanhuysse, S & Hall, L. (2004)
No one asks you to have empathy for your son or lover, we seem to do it anyway. Empathy doesn’t just come out of no where, it is founded on love and requires action, here are some that may help you increase your empathy.
Participate in User research as a User
While I was in University I took part in User research as a user (still do). The most memorable one was a Diary Study for a Scottish University. I had to sign into my specially created online diary and log my sleep habits daily. This ran for a couple of weeks, the incentive was £50 and a copy of the research findings. After the initial week, I got weary and bored. There wasn’t any update from the researchers (until the end ) and I frequently felt neglected, but still got to complete it because I like to finish what someone asks me to do.
As I began to conduct the interviews, research and studies on the job this experience became very useful. Knowing how I felt when I was a user helped me take better care with the people I meet for research, making sure they are comfortable if running an interview or usability study. I have made mistakes, made someone cry once but hopefully never again.
“We must remember that people live beyond our research and approach them with that in mind”
With this experience you’d know what it’s like to be interviewed, recorded, prodded, you know where it hurts and where it makes you sing. This is standing in the user’s shoes.
Put up Personas on your wall
I’ve seen a number of articles which question the need for personas. I have questioned it myself because no one seemed to really ever use it, except as a deliverable. But it struck me one day how necessary it was to have them, empathy. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself as well because I don’t do enough of it.
We invest time in our relationships, we do things daily that affirm to the people we love that we love them, why do we think it will be any different to the one’s we design for?. What if you never had a note, a picture, the reality, of the person you are starting a relationship with, what kind of relationship will that be?
Personas help us connect to those we are designing for. Personas tell us the user’s story and stories engender empathy. Personas should be present when we have our daily or weekly catch up project meetings because like we do in Nigerian weddings sometimes, if the persons getting married cannot be present, they will be there in picture and spirit because the party must go on.
“Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends ”
Some Useful Links on Personas
I’m keen to know what actions you take to help increase and strengthen empathy.
Research is a thing that ought to be done with joy. Ask any PhD student. Joy gives you the strength required for rigour and analysis that comes with research. Now, what can be more joyful than the thought that what you are doing will make someone’s life, even if a smidgen, better.
Why does this seem to be missing in many, many places that profess a UX practice? Why are people afraid of User research? As a freelancer when people approach me with projects like the re-design of a web space or an app, and I start to go, ‘why’ they disappear into the ether.
The best of times I’ve had doing User research has been on my Masters course in Design Innovation and independent research on many different things. One could say we had the luxury of time, (we didn’t) or money, (I paid my way through it). So why do companies abandon this very crucial element. As an independent researcher (I’ll research whether you ask me or not) it really grates when UX practices omit the very thing that puts the U in UX.
What is User Research?
User Research is the proper way of doing research. Why? services, systems, do not have desires, goals or aspirations. Living beings do. People-focused, not product or tech focused, because products and tech do not have desires or goals.
It doesn’t matter if you are doing market research or usability testing, they must have these basic principles. I was prompted to write this post because of the recent conversations I’ve had on twitter. User research should not just be a step, It is should be a constant.
The Importance of User Research
No Research, no UX.
This is from Karl Smith
Paying for UX means paying for research, insights, testing and customer requirements. It’s survival of the fittest, some companies should fail in any case it’s normal. If you pay peanuts… and some client companies think you can get platinum by paying for cement. That’s not what the market is for, it’s to offer wider choice, not cheaper brilliance.
Also read from GDS a team I respect when it comes to UX, it’s User Research, not User testing
User research: a mixture of usability testing and more, generally trying to better understand our end users so we can make better services for them.
The Nielsen Norman Group published this recently, UX without User Research is not UX
User experience cannot exist without users. Creating user interfaces involves intricate and complex decisions. User research is a tool that can help you achieve your goals.
Even the most well thought out designs are assumptions until they are tested by real users. Different types of research can answer different types of questions. Know the tools and apply them accordingly. Leaving the user out is not an option.
They also show you how to choose the right research methods
UX is about people, people!
More, Karl Smith.
The real job of UX, find out about the users.
The real job of ux is to align the business with the users, from the user perspective. Users ask “what’s in it for me”, “what do I personally gain”. This means that user research is required by the clients customers, in order to work out what they want for from the business in order to take up their services or buy their products, how they will want to interact and what they will give the business for a relationship.
This post is partly inspired by a tweet and by a profound moment that happened over 2yrs ago. In many ways it’s about the ethics of user research. It also ties in with my recent thoughts on empathy and stories. First of all, I am a big advocate for getting rid of the term ‘User’ but that will be addressed in another post.
The big questions are, Who are these ‘Users’ Do we think of them beyond the task at hand?. Do we see them as having lives interconnected with other products and services or just as the sole user of ours?
It was a lovely cloudless Monday so I decided to go to the garden near my office on Piccadilly street to have lunch and sit in the sun. There was also a project on my mind. I had done a round of guerilla interviewing during the weekend and didn’t mind continuing if I got the chance. A few minutes after I had settled on a bench and my food, a lady sits by me and opens a book. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to have a chat to her. My project was on redesigning the reading experience, how lucky I felt. So I asked if she had a moment to chat and she burst into tears.
I was taken aback and genuinely sorry, I didn’t know what to say. She quickly got herself together and apologized for the outburst. She mentioned rough times at work and how she tried to escape for a few moments in the garden. I was doubly sorry, here I was in the name of User research encroaching on what little time she had for solace.
I had never really thought about the lives of people beyond the projects I had been working, this was a real eye opener. We still had the chat about reading and what it meant to her but this only came after I just sat and listened. As we talked, I found myself empathizing with her.
I remember walking back to the office and thinking, wow we need a Book Spa/Book Lounge, where people can read in public without being disturbed. Most importantly, I thought about how we interview. People do not use products in isolation, some times they use your products/service in combination or in comparison with others. We must remember that people live beyond our research and approach them with that in mind. As a researcher its also important to just sit and listen. People’s stories engender empathy and that’s what you need to design better.