Yes, an actual book. Spine. Cover. Pages. Ok, it’s a draft in the photo, but …Somebody pinch me!
USERPALOOZA is a how-to for planning and conducting field research – to connect with customers in their context – to understand how they think and behave around your product, service or category.
…Because it’s easier to design for a customer you understand.
It started two years ago, when I wrote this sticky note and slapped it on my monitor:
This sticky note travelled with me during fieldwork. I couldn’t escape it’s call to arms. It won a two year battle of wills.
The sticky note soon became a companion, a travelling and motivating call to action as I squeezed writing time into my working days.
‘Isn’t that shooting yourself in the foot?’
‘Won’t people buy the book instead of hiring you?’
On the edge of NYC in a sleeting-cold January storm, two colleagues and I arrived at a home visit with instructions to ‘go round back’.
Without going into detail, ‘round back’ did not look like a safe place to visit, and we made the joint call to bail out.
This was the first time I’ve abandoned a user research session, and I was so pleased not to be alone. In fact, had I been alone, I’m fairly sure I would have gone ahead out of duty to the client and the project, brushing off any safety concerns, despite what my instinct was telling me.
Film directors use a term to describe zooming out from the scene to deliberately demystify the production process.
This reveals backstage activity usually out of the frame, like the edges of the studio set, sound crew, equipment etc..
They call this ‘breaking the wall’.
Thanks to an ambitious client, and a two minute edit from a mountain of footage, I feel like I can do something similar, at least trying to answer some design research FAQs I’m often asked. In particular the approaches and practicalities of fieldwork. Continue reading
(For the back-story, read Pizzle Part 1)
As I stepped through the door with a “Ni hao”, I watched all my norms float out – the way I came in.
When I say norms, I mean the usual ingredients of a successful field visit.
In my world, in-home visits always start with (and rely on) a crucial few minutes of rapport building. And there are usually just two of us visiting the customer.
Yes, it’s a two-parter. Here’s the main course.
I’d heard of nose-to-tail eating, but apparently there are parts of certain animals which do more than provide nourishment…
Yep. I’m talking about Pizzle. (Deer dick – ick!)
One of the great benefits of operating from New Zealand comes in the shape of exposure to the diverse range of niche products we export.
So when a large-scale deer farmer and venison exporter came knocking, I jumped…
…but this time higher than usual.
There are user research projects where the exact objectives fade over time.
…but certain moments, and the people leave lingering bright spots, ripe to be shared.
I’m talking about those design research projects, where you meet people you could never have imagined, or entered into a person’s life so unfamiliar to you …
These experiences leave a dent – especially when people open up, sharing deep or private stories. Stories that stick, or are even hard-to-shake,
Like one of ‘those’ jokes, design research has the most impact to those who were there in the moment.
In this video – from a presentation hosted at eBay Design in San Francisco – I explain how I try to help client teams discover their own punchline from user research, by designing experiences for them rather than delivering findings to them.
As the business and design worlds adopt design research, I see patterns.
One of those patterns lies in the questions I’m asked by new clients.
Sometimes they are new to qualitative research, and increasingly they’ve done some lightweight interviewing as part of an innovation or design thinking exercise and want to know more.
My confidence in answering these questions builds over time, so to hear a design research veteran tackle the same questions … that’s gold.