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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