Discovering the Table Stakes and Delighters

Henry Ford is famously misquoted as having said “If I’d have asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse.’” Yet the sentiment is true: users tend to limit their imaginations to their own paradigm. They have a natural tendency to think of features that provide incremental benefits, such as more storage space, faster speed, or more configuration options. But focusing exclusively on those features will result in only moderate improvement, and never reach awe inspiring heights. Designers can mitigate this risk by using a combination of Kano Model and outcome driven interviews to probe for features that will truly delight customers. A big part of user research is discovering users’ requirements. After conducting many discovery interviews, I began to notice that my subjects didn’t see all product features equally – and yet the less discussed features were not the least important. Some features were taken for granted and never mentioned because people would be shocked if they were not there. Others were not mentioned because they were not expected, but people would still be delighted by their presence. I began to look for explanations of this phenomena and ways of coaxing the necessary information out of interviewees – to ensure the product we created would both meet expectations, and delight. My search took me out of the UX world and into the world of business analysts and economists. I discovered the Kano model of customer satisfaction, and outcome driven interviews by Anthony Ulwick. The Kano model provided an explanation for what I was observing, and outcome driven interviews provided a foundation for getting the data...

Marc Stickdorn – Service Design Thinking

[ Transcript Available ] In the realm of user experience, disciplines and titles can take on different meanings. Determining buzzword jargon from actual, useful distinctions and processes is sometimes a bit tricky. The term Service Design has been with us for a while now. Some see it as just plain, good UX. Marc Stickdorn sees it as more than that. Marc sees service design as less of a new discipline and more a combination of previously disconnected disciplines. The collaboration of various people in the organization from developers to businesspeople is required when developing and then launching a service. He admits that if you’ve been practicing good UX, then you’re already in pretty decent shape. You possess many of the tools put to use in service design. One of the most important aspects of service design is connecting the touchpoints. Services nowadays are inherently cross-channel, and even more, expected to be. This requires research that goes beyond just the UI and the users’ context. Attend a daylong workshop with Marc at UI19 Marc’s UI19 workshop, Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences, in Boston October 27 will show how to create a cohesive customer experience by expanding beyond digital and designing for every customer touch point. Register with promotion code MARCCAST and get $300 off the current conference price. Explore Marc’s workshop   Recorded: May, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via ?This link will launch the iTunes application.] [ Subscribe with other podcast applications.] Full Transcript. Jared Spool: Hello, everyone. You are listening to yet another episode of the SpoolCast. Today, we have Marc Stickdorn, who is co-author and...

The Hidden Benefits of Remote Research

Last year I found myself in a rather unenviable situation: with only one week left to run usability tests for an online poetry magazine, I was experiencing incredible difficulty locating test participants who would be willing to spend as little as 30 minutes with me. The holidays were fast approaching. And although I wasn’t a fan of remote testing at the time, it became obvious I had to bite the bullet. Little did I know what a compelling option it would turn out to be. In-person usability testing is the most frequently used method of product research today, hailed as “essential” since as early as 1993. Back then Jakob Neilsen explained that “testing with real users is the most fundamental usability method …it is in some sense irreplaceable, since it provides direct information about how people use computers and what their exact problems are with the interface being tested.” Yet it’s precisely due to in-person usability testing’s prevalence that many people overlook the possibility of conducting their research remotely, in what are arguably more realistic usage contexts. In my situation, testing an online poetry journal with readers located in Australia, the US and the UK, it proved essential to include remote research. Not only was it impossible for me to travel to each location and recruit participants, it was also important to learn about — and see — each user’s behavior in their natural environment. For researchers learning about location-specific use, many will find, as I did, that remote research can prove more insightful (and therefore more effective) than its in-person counterpart. What even is…? Remote research is any...

Dear Diary, It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

Many researchers know that diary studies provide an ideal method to observe how people use products in context over time. But diary studies are also laden with potential difficulties. For example, how do you respond when a participant begins to see you as a friend? Or if a participant discloses something that gives you concern about his or her health? These are exactly the kinds of issues I confronted during a recent study. I recently worked on a project for a non-profit, developing a new digital strategy to help people suffering from a chronic illness. We wanted to understand the needs of the prospective users, so that we could optimize the online services and identify areas where online tools might help them manage their condition. A diary study was preferable to interviews or surveys in this situation, so that I could see the research participants’ daily tasks and struggles over the course of several weeks. I encountered several challenges during the four weeks that it ran, such as finding the right tone of voice, striking a balance between “moderator” and “friend,” and shouldering the ethical responsibilities that come hand in hand with asking users for personal information. At times the experience was difficult and distressing, but it gave me a sense of empathy with the users unlike anything I’ve achieved through other research methods. What is a diary study? As the name implies, diary studies involve researchers asking participants to record their thoughts and actions on a regular (usually daily) basis. Participants’ entries can be later mined by researchers for contextually relevant insights. Because of their open-ended nature, diary...

Sarah Horton and Jonathan Lazar – Accessibility Research Methods

[ Transcript Available ] Accessibility research can help us better understand how people with disabilities use the web and what we in product design and development can do to make that experience more successful and enjoyable. However, accessibility research is often carried out in academia. The valuable insights gained through research are shared and built upon among scholars, but often do not make their way into the practice of people who are designing and building digital products and services. In this podcast we hear from Dr. Jonathan Lazar, a computer scientist specializing in human-computer interaction with a focus on usability and accessibility. Jonathan has done a great deal of work bridging the gap between research and practice. He joins Sarah Horton for this episode of A Podcast for Everyone to answer these questions: What are different accessibility research methods and what they are good for? And when are they most effective in the product development lifecycle? What are the broad benefits of accessibility research? How can you get organizational buy-in for conducting accessibility research? How can researchers and practitioners work together to advance accessibility? Resources mentioned in this podcast Evaluation tools: WAVE, WorldSpace Locked Out (Video) by Jonathan Lazar Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology (CWUAAT) SIGCHI Public Policy Harvard Law School Project on Disability Recorded: April, 2014 [ Subscribe to our podcast via ?This link will launch the iTunes application.] [ Subscribe with other podcast applications.] Full Transcript. Sarah Horton: Hi, I’m Sarah Horton. I’m co-author with Whitney Quesenbery of “A Web for Everyone,” from Rosenfeld Media. I’m here today with Jonathan Lazar. Jonathan is a...