- Observation is a universal UX research building block. At the same time, it applies to much more than just UX research. Why didn’t we know that Trump was going to win the election? I would argue it was because the pollsters and reporters were so focused on quantitative polling data, and on demographic groups (white college-educated voters, etc.). More nuanced qualitative data collection and, dare I say it, personas, could have helped us understand the American electorate in more detail. Just as the 2000 Butterfly Ballot debacle brought information design and usability to the forefront of the discussion, I would argue that this election brings the need for qualitative research as a whole into the limelight as never before. Where can you use your observation skills in unexpected ways in the next year?
- Mobile and remote research are the way of the future. As research becomes quicker, more agile, and better integrated into the product lifecycle (we hope), it’s important to be smart about the use of remote tools and techniques such as remote moderated and unmoderated usability testing, remote card sorting, and even remote analysis techniques and tools. At the same time, there’s no substitute for the rapport developed by an in-person connection. Pick your tools and techniques wisely.
- Mix and match research methods. A single research method won’t necessarily answer all your research questions. Come up with a multi-phase approach, or a tiered proposal. Or create a new research method from the tools you already have. Do you need to conduct an in-person session that’s half usability test and half card sort? Do you need to combine qualitative and quantitative work to see the bigger picture? Do you have one question that’s best answered by ethnography and another that should be addressed in the lab? Think creatively about how to get to the answer you need, even if it’s a combined or hybrid methodology that isn’t in any of the books you’ve studied. And never fear if you don’t get to do everything you proposed — research is an art, not a science, and some is always better than none.
Hilary has been working in UX for over a decade, focusing on UX and design research projects for clients large and small in the LA area. Her favorite type of study is ethnography triangulated with quantitative data.