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Validating Assumptions with 12 UX Research Methods

Validating Assumptions with 12 UX Research Methods

This presentation reviews three big questions UX research can help answer: What do people need? What do people want? Can people use it? These questions can be answered with 12 different methods: observation, interview, diary study, experience sampling, photo diary, collaging, A/B testing, Wizard of Oz, fake doors, online usability test, card sorting, and noticeability test.

Tomer Sharon

June 04, 2013
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  1. I’M HERE TO
    PREVENT YOU FROM
    PERFECTLY
    EXECUTING THE
    WRONG PLAN.   @tsharon  

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  2. HI, I’M TOMER

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  3. VALIDATING
    ASSUMPTIONS WITH
    12 UX RESEARCH
    METHODS
    TOMER SHARON, SR. UX RESEARCHER, GOOGLE @tsharon

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  4. RESOURCES
    •  ARTICLES BY JEREMY JOHNSON, KYLE SOUCY, & STEVE PORTIGAL
    •  MY EXPERIENCE

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  5. PERFECTLY
    EXECUTING
    THE WRONG
    PLAN.  

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  6. QUESTIONS
    I ASK MY
    TEAMS

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  7. WHAT DO YOU
    WANT TO KNOW?

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  8. WHAT
    KNOWLEDGE
    GAPS ARE YOU
    HOPING TO FILL?

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  9. WHAT DECISIONS
    ARE YOU TRYING TO
    MAKE BASED ON
    RESEARCH
    RESULTS?

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  10. WHAT ARE YOUR
    ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT
    USERS, THAT IF
    PROVEN FALSE, WILL
    CAUSE YOU TO FAIL?

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  11. FROM
    ASSUMPTIONS TO
    HYPOTHESES

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  12. WE BELIEVE THAT
    [DOING THIS]
    FOR [THESE PEOPLE]
    WILL ACHIEVE [THIS OUTCOME].
    WE’LL KNOW THIS IS TRUE WHEN WE
    SEE [THIS MARKET FEEDBACK].

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  13. READ MORE
    SERIOUSLY, THESE ARE BOOK EVERY DESIGNER MUST READ ASAP

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  14. USER
    EXPERIENCE
    RESEARCH

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  15. PROVIDING INSIGHTS INTO
    PRODUCT USERS, THEIR
    PERSPECTIVES, AND THEIR
    ABILITIES TO THE
    RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE
    RIGHT TIME.

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  16. 3 QUESTIONS
    UX RESEARCH
    CAN ANSWER

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  17. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    NEED?

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  18. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    WANT?

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  19. CAN
    PEOPLE
    USE IT?

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  20. UX RESEARCH IS
    ABOUT DOING THE
    RIGHT THING, NOT
    JUST DOING THINGS
    RIGHT

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  21. NEEDS > WANTS > USABILITY
    DOING THE RIGHT THING
    DOING THINGS RIGHT

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  22. FIRST RULE
    OF UX
    RESEARCH

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  23. DON’T
    LISTEN TO
    USERS

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  24. OBSERVE
    BEHAVIOR

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  25. I DON’T LISTEN TO
    USERS BECAUSE OF
    THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
    ATTITUDE & BEHAVIOR

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  26. HIGH, NEGATIVE
    RELATIONSHIP
    BETWEEN ATTITUDE
    AND BEHAVIOR

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  27. STUDENTS WERE ASKED ABOUT THEIR ATTITUDE TOWARD
    CHEATING.
    A FEW WEEKS LATER, THEY WERE ASKED TO GRADE THEIR
    OWN TESTS. THERE WAS CLOSE TO ZERO CORRELATION
    BETWEEN ATTITUDE TOWARD CHEATING AND ACTUAL
    CHEATING.
    [COREY, 1937]

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  28. WHAT DOES
    IT MEAN TO
    YOU?

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  29. NEVER
    ASK WHAT
    THEY NEED
    DO YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD THING TO HAVE?

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  30. BECAUSE
    HUMANS SUCK AT
    PREDICTING THE
    FUTURE
    YET THEY ARE HAPPY TO GIVE YOU THEIR OPINION

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  31. INSTEAD
    OBSERVE
    WHAT THEY DO
    SHOW ME THE MOST FREQUENT TASK YOU TYPICALLY DO.

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  32. NEVER
    ASK WHAT IS
    THEIR FEEDBACK
    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS COOL “SHARE” BUTTON?

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  33. BECAUSE
    THEY’LL TELL YOU
    WHAT YOU WANT TO
    HEAR
    AND THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT

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  34. INSTEAD
    WATCH THEM
    USE IT
    CAN YOU SHOW ME HOW YOU DO THAT?

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  35. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    NEED?

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  36. THESE METHODS
    WILL HELP YOU
    PERFECTLY EXECUTE
    THE RIGHT PLAN

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  37. FIELD STUDY
    CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY
    FLY-ON-THE-WALL
    SHADOWING
    ETHNOGRAPHY
    GUIDED TOUR

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  38. SHOW ME HOW
    YOU DO THAT

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  39. OBSERVATION A SMALL RESEARCH TEAM OBSERVES USERS IN THE CONTEXT
    OF USAGE, IN AN UNOBTRUSIVE MANNER , TO GATHER
    INSIGHTS THAT CANNOT OTHERWISE BE OBTAINED.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  PREPARE A FIELD GUIDE
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  IDENTIFY THE BEST LOCATION OF OBSERVATION
    •  OBTAIN PERMISSION FOR STUDY/RECORDING
    •  PREPARE FIELD KITS
    •  ASSIGN OBSERVATION ROLES
    •  OBSERVE
    •  TAKE LOTS OF NOTES AND PHOTOS
    ANALYSIS
    USE CASE STORIES
    AFFINITY DIAGRAM
    KJ TECHNIQUE
    PROS
    DEEPENS EMPATHY, CHALLENGES
    ASSUMPTIONS
    CONS
    EASY TO MISINTERPRET, TIME
    CONSUMING
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    8-16
    TOOLS
    VIDEO RECORDING – GOPRO, FLIP,
    SMARTPHONE
    PHOTOS – SMARTPHONE
    APPS – EthOS, RECORDIUM (iOS)
    READ MORE
     

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  40. CONVERSE LIKE A TALK SHOW
    HOST, THINK LIKE A WRITER,
    UNDERSTAND SUBTEXT LIKE A
    PSYCHIATRIST, HAVE AN EAR
    LIKE A MUSICIAN.
    - LAWRENCE GROBEL

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  41. INTERVIEW GATHERING INFORMATION THROUGH DIRECT DIALOGUE
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  PREPARE QUESTIONS
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  SET A SCHEDULE AND LOCATION
    •  START AND FINISH WITH EASY QUESTIONS
    •  LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK
    •  TAKE LOTS OF NOTES
    ANALYSIS
    USE CASE STORIES
    AFFINITY DIAGRAM
    KJ TECHNIQUE
    PROS
    DEEPENS EMPATHY, CHALLENGES
    ASSUMPTIONS, BUILDS CREDIBILITY
    WITH STAKEHOLDERS
    CONS
    RATIONALIZATION, IT’S HARD TO ASK
    THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    8-16
    TOOLS
    RAINBOW SPREADSHEET
    PEN AND PAPER
    READ MORE
     

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  42. WHAT’S
    WORST THAN
    5 ENGINEERS
    IN A ROOM
    DRINKING
    LATTE?  

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  43. DIARY STUDY A GROUP OF PEOPLE KEEPS A DIARY AS THEY USE A PRODUCT,
    OR GO THROUGH CERTAIN ROUTINES OR TASKS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  DETERMING IF STUDY IS STRUCTURED OR UNSTRUCTURED
    •  DETERMINE THE DURATION OF THE STUDY
    •  DETERMINE SAMPLING RATE
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS (EVALUATE WRITING SKILLS)
    •  MANAGE RESPONDENTS AND RESPONSES
    •  PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON DIARY ENTRIES
    •  ENCOURAGE PARTICIPANTS
    ANALYSIS
    READ DIARIES, COMPOSE
    HYPOTHESES, CODE AND ANALYZE TO
    DETERMINE USAGE PATTERNS AND
    COMMON ISSUES.
    PROS
    GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTRIBUTED,
    LONGITUDINAL, CHEAP
    CONS
    HIGHLY DEPENDS ON PARTICIPANTS’
    COOPERATION LEVEL
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    8-20
    TOOLS
    PRIVATE BLOG
    FORM & SPREADSHEET
    VOICE MESSAGES
    EMAIL
    PRINT DIARY
    READ MORE
     

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  44. EXPERIENCE
    SAMPLING

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  45. EXPERIENCE SAMPLING “REALITY MINING”, CAPTURING EXPERIENCES
    AT THE MOMENT OF THEIR OCCURANCE WITHIN
    THE CONTEXT OF EVERYDAY LIFE.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  PHRASE A QUESTION
    •  DETERMINE SAMPLING RATE
    •  CHOOSE A TOOL
    •  DECIDE HOW TO COLLECT DATA
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS (EVALUATE WRITING SKILLS)
    •  MANAGE RESPONDENTS AND RESPONSES
    •  PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON RESPONSES
    •  ENCOURAGE PARTICIPANTS
    •  BEGIN ANALYSIS EARLY
    ANALYSIS
    CLEAN THE DATA FIRST, DECIDE ON
    CATEGORIES, CLASSIFY, ADJUST
    CATEGORIES, ANALYZE AS A TEAM
    FIRST, THEN INDIVIDUALLY, EYEBALL
    THE DATA, GENERATE FREQUENCY
    CHARTS, IDENTIFY THEMES, PREPARE
    CREATIVE BRIEFS
    PROS
    DISCOVER HOW PRODUCTS INTEGRATE
    INTO PEOPLE’S ROUTINES IN
    UNANTICIPATED WAYS, CHEAP
    CONS
    RECRUITING AND MANAGING
    PARTICIPANTS ARE CHALLENGING
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    HUNDREDS+
    TOOLS
    FORM & SPREADSHEET
    EMAIL
    APP – PACO (ANDROID)
    SMS
    READ MORE
    TED TALKS:
    BOB EVANS &
    MIHALY
    CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
     

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  46. PHOTO DIARY A GROUP OF PEOPLE TAKE PICTURES AS THEY USE A PRODUCT,
    OR GO THROUGH CERTAIN ROUTINES OR TASKS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  DETERMING IF STUDY IS STRUCTURED OR UNSTRUCTURED
    •  DETERMINE THE DURATION OF THE STUDY
    •  DETERMINE SAMPLING RATE
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  MANAGE RESPONDENTS AND RESPONSES
    •  PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON PHOTOS
    •  ENCOURAGE PARTICIPANTS
    ANALYSIS
    FLIP THROUGH PHOTOS, COMPOSE
    HYPOTHESES, CLASSIFY AND
    CATEGORIZE TO DETERMINE PATTERNS
    AND COMMON ISSUES.
    AFFINITY DIAGRAM WITH
    STAKEHOLDERS.
    PROS
    GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTRIBUTED,
    LONGITUDINAL, CHEAP
    CONS
    HIGHLY DEPENDS ON PARTICIPANTS’
    COOPERATION LEVEL
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    8-20
    TOOLS
    PRIVATE BLOG
    PRIVATE SOCIAL MEDIA PAGE
    EMAIL
    READ MORE
     

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  47. COLLAGING A GROUP OF PEOPLE TAKE PICTURES AS THEY USE A PRODUCT,
    OR GO THROUGH CERTAIN ROUTINES OR TASKS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DOMAIN TO STUDY
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  PREPARE COLLAGE BOARD AND MATERIALS
    •  MAGAZINES
    •  SHARPIES
    •  SCISSORS
    •  ASK PARTICIPANTS TO WORK IN GROUPS OF 3
    •  LEAVE THE ROOM
    •  AFTER 20 MINUTES COME BACK AND PROBE
    •  TAKE PICTURES OF COLLAGES
    ANALYSIS
    WITH PARTICIPANTS FIRST, THEN CODE
    AND ANALYZE WITH STAKEHOLDERS IN
    A WORKSHOP SETUP.
    PROS
    GETTING ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
    YOU DON’T KNOW TO ASK
    CONS
    STAKEHOLDER BUY-IN IS TOUGH
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE OR ON AN ONGOING
    BASIS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    9 (3X3)
    TOOLS
    REMOTE COLLAGING WITH DESKTOP-SHARING
    TOOLS
    READ MORE
    “COLLAGING”
     

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  48. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    WANT?

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  49. THESE METHODS
    WILL HELP YOU
    EXECUTE YOUR
    USERS’ *PLAN

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  50. A/B TESTING CREATING MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF A SCREEN OR FEATURE AND SHOWING
    EACH VERSION TO A DIFFERENT SET OF USERS IN PRODUCTION TO FIND
    OUT WHICH VERSION PRODUCES BETTER METRICS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DESIGN DECISION TO EVALUATE
    •  CREATE CONDITION DESIGNS
    •  IDENTIFY METRICS TO TRACK (E.G., ENGAGEMENT, REVENUE, CONVERSION TO
    PAYING, REGISTRATION, RETENTION)
    •  DIRECT 50% OF TRAFFIC AT EACH CONDITION (IF 2 CONDITIONS)
    •  TRACK METRICS
    ANALYSIS
    CALCULATE DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS
    PER EVALUATED METRICS AND
    COMPARE.
    PROS
    STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT DATA,
    REAL USAGE DATA, VALIDATES DESIGN
    DECISIONS, GREAT FEEDBACK LOOP
    CONS
    CAN’T EVALUATE TONS OF DESIGN
    DECISIONS, CAN’T TELL YOU WHY
     
    TIMING
    WHEN IT’S TIME TO MAKE A DESIGN DECISION.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    ANY NUMBER MORE THAN 2 WORKS.
    TOOLS
    GOOGLE ANALYTICS – CONTENT EXPERIMENTS
    OPTIMIZELY
    READ MORE
     

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  51. WIZARD OF OZ INSTEAD OF DOING ALL THE DESIGN AND ENGINEERING WORK
    TO BUILD THE PRODUCT FOR EVERYBODY ALL AT ONCE, DO THE
    WORK MANUALLY WITH A FEW PARTICIPANTS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY THE HARD-TO-DEVELOP PART IN YOUR PRODUCT
    •  CHARACTERIZE THE “MACHINE”
    •  DEVELOP PROTOCOL (IF, THEN)
    •  PRACTICE!
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  IDENTIFY THE BEST LOCATION FOR THE STUDY
    •  ASK PARTICIPANTS TO THINK OUT LOUD
    •  TAKE LOTS OF NOTES
    ANALYSIS
    OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT,
    INSIGHTS ABOUT VALUE.
    PROS
    REDUCES WASTED ENGINEERING
    WORK
    CONS
    CAN’T ALWAYS FULLY IMMITATE A
    REAL PRODUCT
     
    TIMING
    WHEN IT’S A PAIN IN THE A$$ TO DEVELOP
    SOMETHING.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    4-12
    TOOLS
    INTERCOM
    PAPER MOCKS
    “MACHINE”
    READ MORE
     

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  52. FAKE DOORS INSTEAD OF DOING ALL THE DESIGN AND ENGINEERING WORK TO
    BUILD A PRODUCT OR FEATURE, FAKE IT, AND DETERMINE WHAT % OF
    PEOPLE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN IT.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY THE HARD-TO-DEVELOP PRODUCT/FEATURE
    •  PRETEND IT IS THERE
    •  INSTRUMENT SENSORS
    •  TRACK SIGNALS
    ANALYSIS
    CALCULATE % OF PEOPLE WHO
    SHOWED INTEREST AND EVALUATE IN
    CONJUNCTION WITH INTERVIEW DATA.
    PROS
    REDUCES WASTED DESIGN &
    ENGINEERING WORK
    CONS
    DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK AS A
    STANDALONE STUDY
     
    TIMING
    WHEN IT’S A PAIN IN THE A$$ TO DEVELOP
    SOMETHING.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    ANY NUMBER MORE THAN 2 WORKS.
    TOOLS
    -
    READ MORE
    VIMEO.COM/24744647
     

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  53. CAN
    PEOPLE
    USE IT?

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  54. THESE METHODS
    WILL HELP YOU
    PERFECTLY EXECUTE
    *YOUR PLAN

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  55. ONLINE
    USABILITY
    TEST

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  56. http://youtu.be/ZvpHsp_NJEo

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  57. ONLINE USABILITY TEST AN ONLINE RESEARCH TECHNIQUE DURING
    WHICH USERS ARE ASKED TO COMPLETE
    TASKS WHILE UX METRICS ARE COLLECTED
    BEHIND THE SCENES.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  IDENTIFY A DESIGN TO STUDY
    •  IDENTIFY A COMPARISON DESIGN (COMPETITOR, EARLY VERSION)
    •  PREPARE A SCRIPT, INCLUDING TASKS
    •  CHOOSE & RECRUIT PARTICIPANTS
    •  MANAGE PARTICIPATION
    ANALYSIS
    COMPARE METRICS, ANALYZE METRICS
    IN CONJUNCTION WITH QUALITATIVE
    RESEARCH.
    PROS
    PURE COMPARISON, EXTREMELY
    EFFECTIVE WITH STAKEHOLDERS
    CONS
    ONLY TELLS YOU WHAT HAPPENED,
    NOT WHY
     
    TIMING
    START AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, TEST AS OFTEN
    AS POSSIBLE.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    ANY NUMBER ABOVE 4 PER DESIGN WORKS.
    TOOLS
    LOOP 11
    USERZOOM
    WEB EFFECTIVE
    READ MORE
     

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  58. http://youtu.be/-89cj71-Vfg

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  59. CARD SORTING A TACTICAL RESEARCH TECHNIQUE FOR LEARNING HOW TO
    STRUCTURE INFORMATION IN A PRODUCT. PARTICIPANTS ARE
    ASKED TO PUT A SET OF ITEMS INTO LOGICAL GROUPS.
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    •  SELECT CONTENT (CURRENT OR FUTURE)
    •  PREPARE CARDS (<100, + EMPTY, #)
    •  SELECT A TOOL
    •  DETERMINE IF OPEN OR CLOSED SORT
    •  DETERMINE IF INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP WORK
    •  DETERMINE IF IN-PERSON OR REMOTE
    •  BRIEF PARTICIPANTS
    •  OBSERVE AND TAKE NOTES
    •  KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING
    •  DON’T LEAD THE WITNESS
    •  PROMPT QUIET PARTICIPANTS
    ANALYSIS
    CLUSTER ANALYSIS (PRODUCE
    DENDROGRAM), EYEBALL GROUPINGS,
    UNIFY GROUP NAMES, ANALYZE ORAL
    FEEDBACK & COMMENTS.
    PROS
    HIERARCHY FROM USERS’
    PERSPECTIVES, UNCOVERS USER
    TERMINOLOGY
    CONS
    RELATIVELY MANY PARTICIPANTS
     
    TIMING
    AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, BEFORE A DESIGN OR
    REDESIGN.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    20-30
    TOOLS
    XSORT (MAC ONLY)
    REMOTE: USERZOOM, OPTIMAL USABILITY,
    WEBSORT
    READ MORE
     

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  60. NOTICEABILITY
    TEST

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  61. NOTICEABILITY TEST A RESEARCH TECHNIQUE FOR
    LEARNING WHETHER PEOPLE NOTICE
    KEY ELEMENTS IN YOUR DESIGN
    PLAY-BY-PLAY
    AFTER USERS COMPLETE A TASK ASK THEM TO RE-ASSEMBLE THE KEY
    SCREEN, SHUT UP, & WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.
    ANALYSIS
    DID THEY PUT KEY ELEMENTS IN
    PLACE?
    DID THEY LEAVE OUT WHAT DOESN’T
    BELONG?
    DID THEY DRAW ELEMENTS THAT
    WEREN’T THERE?
    PROS
    CHEAP, CRYSTAL CLEAR RESULTS –
    DID THEY NOTICE SOMETHING
    CONS
    PERCEIVED AS NOT SCIENTIFIC
    ENOUGH
     
    TIMING
    AS A PART OF AN ITERATIVE DESIGN PROCESS.
    # OF PARTICIPANTS
    3-12
    TOOLS
    PRINTOUTS OF SCREENS
    READ MORE
    SOON
     

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  62. PERFECTLY
    EXECUTING
    THE WRONG
    PLAN.  

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  63. PROVIDING INSIGHTS INTO
    PRODUCT USERS, THEIR
    PERSPECTIVES, AND THEIR
    ABILITIES TO THE
    RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE
    RIGHT TIME.

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  64. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    NEED?

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  65. WHAT DO
    PEOPLE
    WANT?

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  66. CAN
    PEOPLE
    USE IT?

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  67. DON’T
    LISTEN TO
    USERS

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  68. OBSERVE
    BEHAVIOR

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  69. NEEDS
    OBSERVATION
    INTERVIEW
    DIARY STUDY
    EXPERIENCE SAMPLING
    PHOTO DIARY
    COLLAGING
    WANTS
    A/B TESTING
    WIZARD OF OZ
    FAKE DOORS
    USABILITY
    ONLINE USABILITY TEST
    CARD SORTING
    NOTICEABILITY TEST

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  70. “DON’T BELIEVE
    EVERYTHING YOU SEE
    ON A POWERPOINT
    SLIDE JUST BECAUSE
    THERE’S A PICTURE
    WITH A QUOTE NEXT
    TO IT.”
    - ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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  71. THANK YOU
    @tsharon
    Facebook.com/itsourresearch
    http://itsourresear.ch

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