Thursday, April 24, 2008

User Research: Smoke and Mirror Reflections

First thing first, quoting from the readings, “many firms pretend to use scientific user research as the foundation of their design process", and distorting the real meaning for abit sort of implies that user research is just a claim but its not really carried out. To a certain extend i feel that user research could be a fake as well. There are times in which numbers, which the upper level in an organisation is interested in, is being created just for the sake of presentation to the upper levels as well as to look good for consumers. whether or not a real study is carried out is still another mystery.

Back to serious work, I feel that in design, numbers are secondary. Its the content that is important. As far as design is concerned, I believed that design is a very subjective thing. A dot on a big A3 piece of paper can mean mosquito, dirt, center, universe, black hole or even singapore depending on how the audience interpret it. Similar to that, user experience is also based on individuals. Hence to research in quantity without quality does not help at all in the design for UX. And this further strengthen my view that statics are just to convince people from the higher levels in the organisation who MIGHT be total idiots in designing.

Hence quality is very important in the research. A designer must learn the user, understand the user and sometimes even BE the user. A designer should listen, evaluate, and improve. Listening to comments from users can help to find bugs and to find out what is the good or bad points for a design. Then the designer should evaluate to see if the comments make sense and if it should be used to improve the designer's own design. After that, the designer should try to improve on his own design. This kind of reminds me of what we are doing almost everyweek in lecture. Sharing, commenting and improving. Cool~

End of the day i still think that user research is seriouly very important. Conducted researches involve usability testing, card-sorting exercises, stakeholder interviews, user polls and quantitative analysis, direct ethnographic studies and contextual analysis, and/or secondary market research and can greatly help a design to progress in the right direction. To defeat an enemy, one got to first know and understand the enemy!!

This is a very old saying but i totally agree with it.

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