Well-structured, orthodox no doubt has its place. The ability to target and test specific areas of a product using eye-tracking, Likert scales or gauging opinion through structured Q&A can yield important insights for companies and academics alike. However, sometimes all those great techniques just simply aren’t possible and occasionally may not be necessary or the right approach when trying to learn more about your user.

Research is all about asking the right questions for the right reasons and being able to reflect honestly on the Pros and Cons of the research you’ve conducted in order to infer actionable outcomes. The following Qualitative Research are not without their limitations in terms of what they might tell us about the user, however, when applied correctly, they are a great way to provide the user with an engaging and interesting session, which can give your product team valuable and intriguing insights in to how your users feel about your product.

1) The Emoji Journey

Take a user that reflects one of your key personas through the use case scenario you’re wanting to gain insight in to. Have a set task/s that you’d like them to complete in order to satisfy the use case. E.g 1) Search for product, 2) Refine search, ) View product details etc. For each of the steps, ask the user to select one of the emojis to describe how they’re feeling towards the product at that point in time. Once they’ve selected their emoji, ask them whether they can expand on this and explain why it is they feel this way. Next, take the use through the journey again, but this time asking them to select an emoji to demonstrate how they would like to feel for each task. This technique allows the design/develop team to then bridge the gap between what the user currently feels (As Is) and what they expect from the product (To Be).

Emojis are a great way to communicate things which we often find hard to put into words, especially when user testing. Whilst having something physical gives them an option to choose and get the figurative ‘ball rolling’ with their thought process. Try laminating a range of emojis from the internet and use a grid to allow users to stick them on and fill in their reasons. Physical props are always a great way to engage with users who may need encouragement in buying-in to the session.

Emojis added to show “How I feel” and “How i’d like to feel” .

When might it best be used?

  • Initial Research looking at As Is and To Be scenarios
  • Use it to benchmark against either a competitor by modifying slightly
  • Use it to help validate the design

What are key outcomes?

Allows the researcher to understand a user’s overarching emotion at the different stages of the user journey as well as how they would want to feel at this stage with reasoning. Armed with this information, your product team can then look to implement changes which look to improve the experience for your users overall and not simply implementing direct individual feedback from users which may be without context.

How do I implement this?

Paper, pens, printouts, get creative. Arrange for participants to test as normal. Consider the use case or scenario you would like to use then simply take them through the process. Allow them to lead you when providing their reasoning and insights.

What are the benefits vs traditional methods?

  • Looks to infer what their emotion towards the stage with reasoning over direct questioning which can often result in users becoming critical of specific features rather than the experience as a whole
  • A creative and informal approach which can help to obtain more honest and less sensitive feedback, whilst also being cheap and engaging
  • Selection of an emoji helps to reduce some of the ambiguity in responses from the user

2) Colour by Importance

This technique can be used as a piece of initial user research to understand the needs and wants of users and in particular their mental mapping, as a validation piece following design iterations to to understand the degree to which the users may place emphasis on different aspects of the product, or even within your own product teams. This technique can help your team to visually see what each others’ perception of the product is and what it’s key characteristics are.Regardless of when you choose to implement this, the general format remains the same, just that the outcomes will differ.

As an example, allow your users to familiarise themselves with the product, this may simply be context around what the product is trying to achieve, viewing current designs or playing with a working prototype, maybe 5 minutes or so, before asking them to recreate it by drawing. Give the participant 3 pens in 3 different colours (e.g. Blue, Red, Yellow), for 3 minutes (1 minute per colour) and ask them to start sketching out the product.

For the the first minute have them use only the Blue pen, then for second minute the Red, the third minute using the Yellow. Ask them to start sketching what they would like the product to be and how it should be laid out etc if in discovery or when validating, ask users how they remember the product to be. This technique allows the researcher to subtly infer what the user feels are the most important aspect of the product to them. Restricting time pushes them to sketch without too much conscious thought and will help to push them towards adding the finer points of detail at the end i.e. the elements of secondary/tertiary importance.

In the first minute (Blue) the user will hopefully sketch out elements they feel are of greatest importance/prominent, with the second minute showing secondary (Red) then (Yellow) tertiary importance. It’s important to remember this is only a guide to the user’s thought process and you may want to retrospectively ask for their reasoning behind how they constructed their product. If needed this technique can be extended to try with consecutive pages of a product, for example giving 3 minutes on each page.

Example of a banking app asked to be recreated by the user changing colours every 30 seconds(Left). Why not use templates and get the user sketch different steps of the journey? (Right)

When might it best be used?

  • With internal Product teams
  • Initial User Research
  • Validation of Design

What are key outcomes?

The research is able to infer what are the most primary, secondary and tertiary components to the user, whilst follow up questions help to validate any assumptions as to why the user has sketched their product in such a way.

How do I implement this?

Very simply. Get 3 pens of different colours, which contrast of course, a bit of paper and you’re away! (Oh and a few participants)

What are the benefits vs traditional methods?

  • Doesn’t ask direct or leading questions, reducing bias
  • Users able to visualise their thoughts which can be provide invaluable insight

3) The Love letter/ Break-up letter

This one’s nice and simple. Get the user to consider what they either love or hate about your product (or both) then ask them to write the product a letter to tell it how they feel. Putting it down in words will help to identify what they think is really important to them and isn’t too taxing from a user-testing perspective. This method helps to tap in to more emotive feeling towards your product and can provide really rich information which would be otherwise difficult by asking “What did you like/dislike about the product?”.

You can even try a modern-love technique for remote users and send the product out online, asking them to send in their love/break-up letter via email. The beauty of this method is that it’s short and concise, requiring less from the user. The informal approach will also help the user to be more honest about their feelings when being critical/praising of the product, which can be hard in a face-to-face user session when being asked by someone who they will invariably assume is involved with the design of the product.

Love letter to eBay .

When might it best be used?

  • Validation after a design iteration

What are key outcomes?

This technique provides rich insights into the most important thoughts and feelings of your users good and bad.

How do I implement this?

Ask people who have previously used the product or allow time for a user to play around with the product before getting them to pen a letter. Don’t skimp on the lined paper and make sure you tell them to be as open and candid with their feelings, honesty is always the best policy — even in a breakup (ish).

What are the benefits vs traditional methods?

  • Rich information
  • Allows participants to be open and honest
  • Cheap and easy to set-up
  • Able to be completed remotely

N.B. These techniques can and should be changed depending on the need of your research, context and constraints. What’s important is the right research technique being used for the right reason. Don’t have the right equipment? — Use a close alternative you can find. Seem to be running out of time with participants? Reduce your time slots. It’s about being sensible and transparent with the results in respect to what was conducted. As product owners, we will know the direction and restrictions of the product we are developing. It’s important to understand the goals and frustrations of the user, but not take their lead on what they want the product to be, that’s our job as a team.

If you’re wanting to hear more about our research methods and how we can help you undertake these, please get in touch at Answer Digital to start gathering reliable insights on your customer.

Source link https://uxplanet.org/3-alternative-user-research-methods-for--development-43073a70871d?source=rss—-819cc2aaeee0—4


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