How can we learn from users about experiences, thoughts, behaviors, and actions?
User research is a key element to the Immerse phase. Conduct user research to learn from users about experiences, thoughts, behaviors, and actions so you can to deeply understand and empathize with them. The best place to learn this information is from users themselves! Your team will look for stories, quotes, and key moments to use in synthesizing your research.
Observing users gives your team a chance to see behaviors and interactions first-hand. Oftentimes there is a difference between how people say they act and how they actually act, and observation can help you uncover some of those moments. Techniques to try include:
Interviews are sessions where your team asks users and stakeholders questions in order to understand their feelings or motivations. Interviews can be short and informal or prepared and scheduled. They can also happen in a variety of media from in-person conversations to video chats or phone calls.
For all interviews, best practices include:
In all techniques also look for user generated artifacts to support your research, such as day planners that doctors use or pictures of a child’s favorite toys. These artifacts can give you great in-context, and firsthand insight into the how users experience a certain challenge area.
Observe the user going through the challenge you are tackling like DFA RISD|Brown
DFA RISD|Brown participated in the 2014 FCA sponsored project on driving as accessible as possible for teenagers of all physical abilities. The team shadowed and recorded their user getting on the car and adjusting her seat. Make sure to get permission to record from the user beforehand.
DFA Oregon used a public participatory installation for one of their user research techniques. They drew a map and encouraged the University of Oregon community to draw a red dot on places where they don’t feel safe on campus. The team used this user research to further their project.
DFA Northwestern’s Summer Studio team conducted a Fly-on-the-Wall observation for their project. Their project was focused on decreasing the stigma of free meals and better children’s experience in Chicago’s local food programs. They visited each food hand-out sites and observed the interaction between the youth and the food program directors. They documented their process by taking pictures (with permission).
Conduct interviews like DFA Northwestern
DFA NU's Jerry the Bear talks about the importance of early user research and their early success in this video. (Yuri Malina, Hannah Chung, and Mert Iseri were all early members of both SwipeSense and Jerry the Bear!)
DFA U of Illinois drafted interview questions for their 2014 FCA sponsored project. The team focused on redesigning car features to allow those with epilepsy the ability to drive confidently. The team started with building rapport then with asking specific instances of the user’s experience with commuting experience. Keep asking Why’s!
Potential Interview Questions for One UserHow is your day going so far? (start with small talk)
When/How did you find out that you have seizure disorder?
Can you describe your commuting and traveling experience?
(Drives) What are some of your best and worst experiences while driving?
(Drives) How do you feel when you are driving?
(Cannot drive) Do you think you should be able to drive?...Why?...Why?...Why?
(Cannot drive) How do you get around?
Would you change the driving experience? How? Why would you make those changes?
Do you know anyone else who might be interested in contributing to this project?
Would you be willing to talk again in the future?
Collect artifacts from user research sessions like DFA Virginia Tech
DFA Virginia Tech worked on a project to immerse pre-K to 3rd graders into a reading culture back in 2012-2013. In their 2nd visit to a local program, the team gave the kids some activity sheets and asked them to fill them out. Way to collect artifacts!