We were delighted to go along to the second User Research London conference this week. The first conference in 2017 was small, but it sparked an interest and this year it has grown. Researchers love to research, and that includes learning about how others are doing it and thinking about it. So this conference saw many more come together to listen, watch, talk and learn.
The day offered a mix of longer and shorter talks from speakers from around the world, from huge organisations and tiny consultancies. A common thread that came up again and again was deliverables. Not just what we deliver, but how we deliver it and how we shape our research to deliver it in order that we make the most impact we can from our research work.
What we should deliver was answered concisely by Tom Ablewhite from Foolproof. He gave us a checklist of assets liked and valued by different audiences – product managers, designers, developers and reminded us we should shape our message to the audience. To do this, we need to understand not just who they are but work harder at understanding them and how best to bring the message to them.
Laurissa Wolfman-Hvass from Mailchimp zeroed in on the value of research: “Research provides insight that reduces uncertainty and empowers people to make better, more informed decisions”. But it’s up to us to ensure that we communicate this well, so it can both empower people and help those informed decisions. She gave us permission to think about learning about our audience using the skills we already have and apply when we go about learning about users. Develop empathy, observe, ask good questions, notice what is important to them and what stresses them so you can help them with your answers from research. An alternative approach came from Cyd Harrell who talked about metaphor for analysis but also using it to communicate research insights to help it resonate better with our audience.
As researchers and as businesses we all want to see the impact of our work and understand how it has added value. Christina Li and Dr Tim Dixon both addressed impact in their talks. Christina drew on her long career in Government digital services to argue that we should become more comfortable with mixing qual and quant together to both improve the outputs, and to measure impact of our research and ensuing designs. Flipping around the norm, she says that quant enriches the qual. In Tim Dixon’s short talk he have an intriguing introduction to the Digital Impact Framework that Nomensa are building to shape research and measure the impact. The framework gives us a structure to measure impact externally through social and economic metrics and internally to the organisation through process and innovation metrics.
Our work is not over when we deliver the research. As researchers we want to see changes made and user experiences improved. Ana Roji talked about transforming our typical research outputs into different forms to provide tangible assets that people can revisit and reuse to keep them engaged. In her talk, she shared the story of creating cards containing insights and case studies to inform people and opportunities and activities to inspire them to take action and make changes.
On this topic, Paul Andre of Facebook took a step back. He talked about expanding ourselves as researchers – not just learning more methodologies and tools – but developing our knowledge and thinking about the world so we can create a compelling vision of the future to empower and engage stakeholders to make changes.
The day wrapped up with the wonderful Meena Kothandaraman of Boston consultancy Twig+fish. Meena told us it’s our job to socialise the research, to get non-researchers engaged so they can become better consumers, and contributors to research. She shared the Ncredible framework they use for planning and shaping a research project and how it can be used to engage and communicate better with non-researchers through making research processes more transparent.
The day finished with Meena calling us to action to stand up and repeat the researchers vow. It was a great end to a great day.
Within UX research, focus groups get a bad rap, often, this can be justified (for a number of reasons we will come onto exploring), however, this shaming is not always justified. Used for the correct reasons and facilitated in the correct manner, focus groups can become another useful tool in your methodological toolbox.
This article sets out to explore the pros and cons of focus groups within UX research, drawing on how and when we use focus groups here at SimpleUsability for context.
‘What we say and what we do are very different’
If you work in UX, this will be a phrase you will be very familiar with, and for a very good reason. It is well established and evidenced that as human beings we are not good at predicting our own behaviour for a number of reasons. This is one of the key drivers behind the stigma associated with focus groups, they are often used when they shouldn’t be, and when there is a more suitable methodology available, therefore the results may be misleading.
> Read more
NUX Camp is now a fixture on the Leeds Digital Festival schedule bringing ensuring UX, and the skills and techniques to do it well, are part of the North’s largest digital festival. Two of our lead UX practitioners, Amy Martindale and Natalie Crook, went along for the day and tell us here about the highlight and takeaways from the day.
With the growth of Alexa and Google Home, ‘voice’ is the topic everyone is talking about. Researchers and designers alike are trying to find ways to build new voice interfaces and making them work for users still new to the devices and opportunities they offer. Natalie shares what she learned from the two workshops about designing for voice, the first from Hilary Brownlie and second from Graham Odds.
> Read more
As part of our involvement in the 2018 Leeds Digital Festival, we hosted a conference celebrating Leeds as the centre for online grocery excellence.
Home to some of the biggest names in the grocery industry, including ASDA, Morrisons and Arla Foods, Leeds has seen some brilliant innovation and development.
From early glimpses of online shopping capability, right through to the emergence of voice-enabled shopping, our speakers presented the opportunities their organisations are seizing right now and what they’re planning for the future.
Often thought to be a contentious relationship, Bolser and SimpleUsability came together for a presentation for LDF 2018 to share how User testing and Agile can be integrated throughout a project lifecycle.
Our presenters were Dr Lucy Buykx, Senior UX practitioner and Amy Martindale, Lead UX practitioner from SimpleUsability, together with Bolser’s Hanneka Kilburn, Head of Design and Theo Wrightman, Scrum Master. SimpleUsability and Bolser work with some of the world’s biggest brands providing complimentary services: SimpleUsability is a behavioural research agency, who have evolved a robust and insightful UX research methodology built on trusted psychology principles and innovative technology and Bolser are a full stack agency who have adopted an Agile framework with Scrum since 2013.
> Read more
When was the last time you bought something online? Did it go as expected? How did the process make you feel?
Previously, we have looked at how UX design can benefit from storytelling elements, but in this article, we will briefly discuss how to use storytelling ideas when organising your test sessions to get the most value out of a participant.
As humans, we naturally process information in stories. They are the key to engrossing us and helping us to understand other people’s ideas. Due to this, they are excellent for capturing and retaining our participant’s attention, dropping them into a scenario and frame of mind to aid our research and, in appropriate methodologies, improving their recall. Besides the participants, they can also help us, as researchers, when differentiating between all the testing sessions we have carried out on the day – the structure of our sessions may be the same, but the stories will always differ.
> Read more
You say ‘to-may-to’, I say ‘to-mah-to’
You often hear the terms ‘user research’ and ‘market research’ used interchangeably within companies, product teams often debate the differences between the disciplines. They both contain the word research and their main aim is to understand the ‘user’ or the ‘consumer’ – so, what’s the difference?
At best, people try to distinguish them by the data they work with, “user researchers are the qualitative guys and market researchers are the quantitative guys.” However, this stereotype is also incorrect and can be damaging. As any valuable UX research agency will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, so will a market research agency.
This article sets out to explore the blurring line between the two disciplines, their shared similarities, their differences, and ultimately understand if there is a need for a hard classification. All that matters is the user, right?
> Read more
‘A picture tells a thousand words’
This is certainly the case when it comes to storyboarding. UX designers, researchers and stakeholders need to be able to put themselves into the user’s shoes to consider how they might react and engage with a product. Relying on imagery over text, storyboards can be a really effective tool within UX to: help conceptualise designs, visualise user personas or needs, aid research design and, add validation to research findings. This article will explore how to create a storyboard for UX projects and why they are effective.
> Read more
A homepage is something that any internet user will be familiar with. Whether it be landing on a banking site to set up a new account, or arriving on a travel site ready to book a holiday, the homepage and subsequent landings page are our first touch point on a number of online sites. Not only do these pages have to make a lasting impression on users and signpost them in the right direction, but a homepage is also an important hub, allowing users to come back if they got lost or want to navigate to a different area.
However, a lot of homepages fail to follow some of the basic requirements relating to appearance, information and interaction. So this article will highlight some of the fundamentals for homepage design, and how these can also be applied to landing pages.
> Read more
What’s your favourite book, film or tv show? Do you know why you like it so much? You probably remember it quite well. Since our time in the caves, we have been captivating attention and evoking responses through the telling of stories both fact and fiction. They are embedded into our culture and society; whether it is a classic novel, a news article or gossip between friends, storytelling in its simplest form is the sharing of information via cause and effect – and we are wired to think in this way. Research has found that storytelling activates multiple senses in our brains and the resulting flurry of emotions makes us understand the information more, retain it for longer and have a more enjoyable experience.
> Read more