“Thus we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”—Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s your last research session in a long day filled with hours of listening to participants talk about their complex systems. Their gripes start to blend together. One person’s complaints about gluing together their data files from multiple systems start to sound just like the difficulties of another participant whose system froze when he tried to click Print.
Fortunately, you have recordings to fall back on. Perfect concentration is impossible. You may forget to listen. But if you forget to breathe and be alive in the moment, you may succumb to an awkward silence, while a participant swigs some water between rants. Meditation guru Thich Nhat Hanh says, “It is only in an active and demanding situation that mindfulness really becomes a challenge.” Read More
In this edition of Discovery, I’ll complete my series on Visual Data Collection (VDC), which provides an efficient way of taking notes during research sessions. This method uses a combination of open- and closed-ended questions, along with screenshots of the prototype you’re testing. What makes my VDC method different from other notetaking techniques is the consistent use of annotations to mark up the screenshots, which affords easier analysis by the UX researcher, who can more efficiently tally up the results across participants.
In this column, I’ll consider how you can use the VDC method to deliver meaning to your stakeholders—the people you must influence and inspire for your research to have an impact—by communicating your results effectively. Thus, this column focuses on the Deliver swimlane of the Visual Data Collection journey map in Table 1, which gives you a quick overview of the VDC method. It comprises the various phases of UX research and shows how to incorporate the VDC method into each phase. Read More
Young children communicate well visually. When they want to articulate something for which they simply don’t have words, they point to objects in their environment. When they want more food and their plate is empty, they point to their empty plate or slam their plate down onto the table to signal hunger. They are prompting their parents to visualize what they are asking for. Their parents see the empty plate and know they’ve just finished eating their food. Their child must be asking for more food.
Visuals are effective ways in which to communicate. Sometimes sketching is the fastest way to convey a need or ask a question. According to education professor John Hattie and cognitive psychologist Gregory Yates, people are not all just better visual learners or auditory learners. Lab studies show that people learn best when the stimuli they receive are from different types of media. Our brains are wired to integrate information in different modalities. When we want people to understand something that we are explaining to them, we can reinforce our meaning not just through words, but also through pictures and sounds. Read More