If you’ve read some of my previous columns on UXmatters, you could be forgiven for thinking my entire working life is spent largely surrounded in a sea of quantitative data. This is, rather surprisingly even to me, not nearly close to the truth. Looking back over recent months, by far the most common form of research I’ve carried out is that stalwart of qualitative studies—the interview.
A simple, semi-structured, one-on-one interview can provide a very rich source of insights. Interviews work very well for gaining insights from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as from actual users of a system under consideration. Though, in this column, I’ll focus on stakeholder interviews rather than user interviews. (And I’ll come back to that word, insights, a little later on, because it’s important.) Read More
In recent months, there has been an interesting dialogue on the IxD Discussion mailing list, in which some participants have questioned the need for and benefits of doing user research rather than relying on the experience and intuition of designers. These comments led others to voice concerns about the actual quality of the user research companies are undertaking and the validity of any conclusions they have drawn from the resulting data.
Three articles or posts have been particularly influential in sparking interest in and debate on this topic. The first was Christopher Fahey’s excellent five-part series “User Research Smoke & Mirrors,” which laid out some of the problems that Chris sees with user research and discussed where UX professionals go awry during research and analysis. Of special interest to me was the following statement in Part 1 of the series:
“Many Web designers and consultancies, however, feel it’s not enough to use research to inform their design process. They go further: They try to make “scientific” user research the very foundation of their design process.”—Christopher Fahey
Understanding the people who will ultimately engage with a product or service provides the foundation for user experience design. Modeling those people and segmenting our models into meaningful groups lets us explore different clusters of needs, then address our solutions to meeting the needs of people belonging to specific clusters.
Audience segmentation models come in many shapes and sizes. So far, the practice of UX design has focused primarily on the persona as the model of choice. This article explores alternative ways of segmenting audiences and the design research we need to derive each type of model. Read More