Part 3: User Research

If you want to be a well-rounded UX professional you’ll need at least some basic UX research skills. This section covers the primary qualitative technique, usability testing, and the primary quantitative technique, surveys. The optional element dives deeper into other research techniques you can use in specific situations. 

Core

UX Foundations: Usability Testing (Chris Nodder)

The foundational method for user researchers. Take this course to learn how to recruit participants, create a study plan and test script, run a series of usability sessions, and then report the results back to a development team in an actionable way.

Surveys and Questionnaires for UX Research (Chris Nodder)

Usability studies are the primary qualitative technique used by user researchers. Surveys are the primary quantitative technique. Learn what types of questions you can get good answers to in a survey, how to phrase the questions so they give you the information you need, how to create and field a survey, and how to analyze and report the results. 

UX Deep Dive: Remote Research (Amanda Stockwell)

These days, remote research is highly important as in-person sessions are hard to arrange safely. Learn how to conduct research remotely. 

Optional (but highly recommended)

UX Insights Weekly (Chris Nodder)

A series of short (<4 mins) videos on different techniques and processes within UX. Focus on the chapters on Common and Specialized Research Techniques and Become a Better UX Researcher.

This will give you a more rounded view of the field, so that you’ve at least heard of these items. You won’t always gain enough detail to run each technique yourself, but you’ll at least learn the steps you’d need to take. By this stage in the syllabus, you should have sufficient framework to hang these ideas upon.

UX Foundations: Research (Amanda Stockwell)

An overview of many different user research methods that you can use. You should at least know what each of these types of research is, even if you don’t need to use them yet.

UX Research: Going Guerilla (Amanda Stockwell)

Low-cost, low-fidelity ways to do user research. Great for students and others on a limited budget or with limited time. Tips on finding participants, running studies on-the-fly, and reporting results back in a clear but fast way.

UX Research Methods: Interviewing (Amanda Stockwell)

If you can’t run usability tests, interviews are the next best technique for uncovering qualitative user information. Learn how to run interview sessions without introducing bias.

Homework

List the pros and cons of usability testing and surveys as ways of finding out about user needs and abilities.

List the pros and cons of running remote rather than in-person research. 

If you watched the optional videos, create a timeline of the activities you’d perform to support a project team as they build and release a product. Assuming they spend 6 months getting to their initial beta release, and then another 3 months to a full release, list how each activity would inform the team’s process. I know this is hard, you’ve not learned the details of all the different techniques you might use, but try it anyway.  This type of question often comes up in interviews! 

Discussion topics

Share your pros and cons lists, and create one master-list with four quadrants – in-person vs. remote, and usability testing vs. surveys

If you created a research timeline, talk through the items you added and why you added them. Compare timelines, work out an optimal research plan and a minimum-budget research plan.

Project

Conduct a survey with representative users to identify how they interact with your target site.

Use the methods you learned in the Surveys course to create a list of desired outcome statements and then turn those into a short survey that will help you understand how people currently use the site. Collect responses from (at least) 15 representative people either in person or online, and analyze the results.

Write the results up in a presentation using the desired outcome statement format and adding visualizations (graphs or tables) where it helps.

This project will form part of your portfolio at the end of the course.


Next – Part 4: Interaction Design Practice


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