Just Enough Research

“When you make assumptions about your users, you run the risk of being wrong. When you embed wrong assumptions in the design of your product or service, you alienate people” – Erika Hall

It was recommended to me that I should read Just Enough Research from the A Book Apart collection. And I can safely say that it’s my favourite in the series so far. I have a passion for UX and problem solving so learning more about different research processes and how to gain effective results interests me.

Research is vital when approaching a new project. Yes, the brief sets the scene, maybe it even defines the problem you are trying to solve. However, it’s important to remember that you are designing for actual people who are going to be using your design so surely their opinions and ideas count for something?

Chapter 3 particularly caught my eye as it focused on the process behind gaining enough research. It went into detail about the different types of research that exist. Erika Hall wrote six steps that can be applied to whatever type of research you are doing.

Define the problem

Before rushing into organising meeting users it’s important that you define and fully understand the problem you are dealing with. What use is it if you’re collecting research when you don’t even understand the problem at hand.

Select the approach

This is when you decide what type of research you will be doing. If the problem is related to users then user research is what’s required. However, if you are looking at solving a design solution then you would most likely be looking at competitors and carrying out evaluative research. The diagram below represents the different types of research you could be doing.highlights-from-just-enough-research-by-erika-hall-user-experience-abu-dhabi-meetup-ux-uae-32-638

Plan and prepare for the research

It is important to plan and prepare for the research. This allows you to get the most out of the time you have allocated. Planning gives you the opportunity to prepare questions you want to ask. It is better if these are open ended so that the interviewee is encouraged to go into more detail.

Collect the data

When collecting the data, it’s best to make sure that the results are well organised as this will make the analysis easier. To conduct a successful interview it is important to make sure that all present are comfortable as this will help to get the best data. Even though questions may have been planned this doesn’t mean that you have to stick with them.

Analyse the data

The next phase after collecting the data is to identify any trends that are occurring and referring back to the initial problem you are solving. This will help to find recommendations for the design. Including as many people as possible in this process can lead to faster, more effective results.

Report the results

Reporting the results is where the post-it notes and personas come into play. After analysing the data and picking out the patterns and important information this can be broken down even further. Using personas and post-it notes is a lot more effective than writing up a report. Displaying the results in a visual way makes it easier to refer back to at any point in the wireframing process.

Gathering effective research could be the difference between good and bad user experience. I am looking forward to using this six step process in my future projects to see how it helps and simplifies the research process. I’d recommend for you all you have a read of Just Enough Research by Erika Hall.

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Meetdraw – March 2016

Earlier this week I attended the Meetdraw event for the first time in Bournemouth. The event brings together creatives and students. There is also the opportunity to talk to 10 industry experts 1 on 1 in the 3 minute sizzle.

Prior to the event I was certain that I wasn’t going to participate in the 3 minute sizzle. However after arriving and speaking to other students and designers working in the industry, I decided to go for it. I am so glad that I did this and I ended up going around four times.

I mainly wanted to know more about what skills industry experts looked for when hiring students for placements and graduate jobs. I also wanted some advice on what to include in my portfolio. 3 minutes sounds like a long time when you are nervous and not sure where the conversation is going to go. But when you are sat down it flies by. The conversations flow naturally and there is a great atmosphere.

This event was great and I would highly recommend for students to attend. It is a great way to network and make connections. I look forward to going to the next one!

 

 

Web Dev Conference 2016

Yesterday I attended the first Southampton Solent conference for designers and developers in the Southampton and Bournemouth area. There were lots of speakers coming from a variety of companies and it was great to hear about what advice /  tips they had to offer students!

To kick start the day Matt Desmier gave a talk about the digital hub in Bournemouth and how important it is to attend conferences and events in the local area. Silicon Beach and Meetdraw are just a couple of the events that came up various times throughout the conference and I’m looking forward to checking these out and attending!

Adam and Meg from Rareloop gave a really good talk with a live demo about exposing yourself (in the right way) and gave some tips on attending events and getting internships. Internships provide you with experience in a real working environment. It gives you the chance to work on live projects and collaborate ideas with people who share the same passion. Rareloop also hold a monthly event where you can show work, get feedback and network with designers/developers.

After lunch, it was time for a talk by Eddie Rich who has a passion for UX (and post-it notes). He talked about the importance of carrying out user research with real users and more importantly the implications that could happen if this wasn’t done. Eddie’s example was about being in space and trying to dodge planets. This example was to make us understand that users behave differently when under pressure. They panic, which means that everything needs to be designed so that it is simple and usable in varying situations.

Craig Eldridge, a lead developer at Redweb, spoke about the highs and lows of his career after graduating from Solent. It was interesting to hear about the experiences he had when working at a variety of companies in the industry.

The main message taken from the day was about being aware of how important it is to network. It was refreshing to hear that it is okay to be nervous for these events but there are ways to prepare.

  1. Research the event and the people attending
  2. Prepare some questions to ask
  3. Don’t be the lemon in the corner

Overall, it was a great conference and I took a lot away from it. Thank you to all the speakers and Martin for organising this event.

B&W Meet

So earlier this week I made a last minute decision to go along to the B&W Meet that’s held in Bournemouth. As with every meet up I was really nervous about attending, especially as not many students go….but I’m really glad that I plucked up the courage and went!

Everyone was so lovely and welcoming. It was great to meet likeminded individuals in the industry that were once in my shoes. I’ve heard so much about Bournemouth’s digital scene, so it was great to see people from a variety of companies attending a single event. There was a mixture of designers and developers from both smaller and larger companies, which made it possible to gain an insight into the different working environments.

I spoke to a developer, Ralph Saunders, who works at Crowd in Bournemouth. He took the time to talk to me about the types of clients that Crowd deal with on a regular basis, the structure of their team and about working in the industry.

Attending this event and meeting new people has motivated me to continue growing my portfolio and getting experience in the industry. Being one of the few students attending this event wasn’t something to be nervous of at all. It was a great evening and I’ll definitely be attending the next event.

Moov2 Web Design Talk by Dan

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend a talk by Moov2. This was presented by Dan at Southampton Solent University. The talk was primarily about understanding the importance of fundamental skills in Web Design and Development industry.

Dan’s talk was about making students aware of the fundamental skills needed to make ourselves more employable and to become better designers / developers.

He stressed the importance of understanding the key processes within the design and development of websites and mobile apps. This does not mean that you have to be fluent in all of these skills. But having a working knowledge and being aware of them is important, especially when working in the industry.

If you are a UI / UX designer it is still important to understand front-end and back-end aspects. As this means that you are aware of the process beyond the creation of interfaces. The same applies if you are a developer. Being able to understand how a UX Designer approaches problems and creates solutions is just as important.

Dan provided everyone with a summary checklist for all of the different aspects of the industry. This was really helpful and I am going to be using this as a checklist to ensure that I can try out all skills.

I think that it is really important, as a student, to try out different fields in the industry. Otherwise, how else are you supposed to know if you are passionate about UX / UI if you have not tried any areas of back-end development.

Being open to learning new skills and experimenting is a major aspect within this industry as it is forever changing.

The Whatever Meet Up

So, I got informed about this Whatever Meet Up that happens monthly in Southampton and after last weeks successful event I thought why not!?

Since it is coming up to Christmas the event was held at the Christmas Market, which was nice and festive. I was slightly sceptical about going to this as I was not sure how many students would attend. Thankfully, I managed to persuade a couple fellow course mates to come along and it was a surprisingly chilled evening.

There were lots of small design companies from Southampton attending and it was a good way to get to know people in the local area who were like minded and shared the same interests.

It was nice to have the opportunity to ask designers and developers questions about working in the industry and what they look for in graduates. The realisation that it is in fact okay not to know and understand every aspect of the industry was refreshing. We are not expected to know how to use all of the software, be fluent in different languages and understand all of the approaches and principles.

I am looking forward to attending the next meet up in February!

 

An Evening with Rareloop

So a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a local event with a Web Design company, Rareloop. This evening was primarily for third year students working on a live brief.

After arriving at the studio, I met Meg who is a UX designer. We started looking through and talking about the different books in the studio and what aspects of web design were of interest to us.

I had the opportunity to show some of my work and get some feedback and advice, which was much appreciated. Later, after showing a keen interest in UX/UI, I was introduced to Eddie. We spoke about wireframing tools and user experience mapping. User experience mapping is not something that I had done before, and it was not long before the post-it notes were out and the fun was starting.

We decided to create a user experience map based on the live brief that had been set for the third year students. It was about designing the ideal website for the Open Device Lab in Southampton.

It was then time to start thinking about main steps in a users journey. The most important part was to think outside of the website. A users journey does not just begin when arriving to the website. It is about how they hear about the website, how they get there and what happens after visiting the website.

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From this evening with Rareloop, I learned a lot about UX and it gave me the motivation and boost that I needed. I had not been to many networking events prior to this and I was very happy and took a lot away from the experience.