Experience Design

Conducting User Research: For Dummies

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Conducting User Research: For Dummies
As someone who has never conducted her own user research test, but has listened in on a handful of interviews, I’ve found a great interest in learning about the habits and preferences of the interviewees. I have been stuck in the suburban Midwest lifestyle my entire life, and sometimes fail to realize there’s life outside of this bubble I call home. Listening in on these interviews brings me back to reality and makes me want to learn more about the different behaviors of consumers.
When listening in on a interview for a home improvement/agriculture company website redesign, I was shocked to hear about all the different ways the people in that location were currently using the company’s website.
Some used it solely to check if a product was in stock, then would drive to the store to pick it up. Some users would order their product online ahead of time, then complete an “In-Store Pickup”. Others were unable to request at home delivery because their address was in too rural of an area.
Watching the users interact with the wireframes sparked my interest in the different ways users interact with a product based on their demographics as well as location. So, what are the basic steps to conducting your own user research (“for dummies”)?
UR
Objectives
The first step in the process is to determine the question we are trying to answer. What should we know at this point in the process? For example, when shopping on Nike.com, do users prefer a drop down menu or to see the products listed on the home screen?
Hypotheses
Secondly, we need to determine what we already know. What are our assumptions? Going back to our Nike.com question, we may believe that users will prefer a drop down menu so that it doesn’t take up as much space on the homescreen.
Methods
The methods will address how we plan to fill the gaps in what we know. Based on our timeline and whom we are interviewing, what are the best methods to conduct user research? For Nike.com, do we want to do in person interviews, watch the user interact with the website, give them a survey, ask them to complete specific tasks, give them a “to-do” list to complete with a partner, etc?
Conduct
During the fourth step of the process we will gather the information we need from the methods we determined would be the best fit for this particular test. In regards to our Nike.com test, we will take notes and record user interactions with the website. Do they find it challenging to navigate? Easy? Are there particular products they are having a hard time finding? These are the questions and answers we need to take note of.
Synthesize
At the final step, we will work to answer our original question(s), and either prove or disprove our hypotheses. From this information, we will work to make sense of the results and use those to determine what opportunities exist for our future design plans. When we look at how our hypothetical user interacted with the Nike.com website, we noticed that they had an easy time navigating the drop down, and preferred that it didn’t take up much space on the homepage. In this instance, we have proved our hypotheses and will plan to create a drop down menu for Nike.com.

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Claire Ritzen

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