You Can Have Your Agile, and Do Your UX Research Too.
Analyzing User Research Data
“The time of Agile is upon us! Join the cult, don the Agilian robes and attend our ceremonies!”
Or at least that is what it feels like.
Agile is an iterative method of project management that seems to now be used on every project, everywhere. It proposes that instead of projects happening in successive stages, they happen in shorter, iterative cycles. Even when Agile is adopted though, projects still derail from the timeline and UX research is the first thing to get cut.
Putting the User on the Couch: Psychology and User Research Techniques
To me, the most fun part of user research is analyzing the results and watching patterns emerge. The process is an interesting mix of cataloging data and trusting your intuition, wading around in the minute details while keeping in mind the larger research objectives. The goal of analyzing the results is to find patterns that will lead to new insights. The approaches to discovering those patterns in qualitative and quantitative data are somewhat different.
There are many similarities between the field of psychology and user research, most importantly that they both place the human experience at the center of their work. The techniques and tools used in both fields are similar too. User interviews are one research method that parallel the patient-therapist relationship: two people sit down to explore an issue through conversation, and the therapist must quickly create a connection with the patient based on authenticity and trust. If they are able to build this connection, the therapist can access more of the patient’s insights. In the same way, a user interview requires to strangers to build trust quickly so the researcher can gather the participant’s insights. Techniques used in counseling can also be used in user interviews, specifically building empathy, practicing active listening, and uncovering participant insights and stories.
Personas: How to make them – with research or without
The field of user experience exists under the human-centered design umbrella – a framework that promotes the importance of keeping users at the center of and frequently involved in the design process. Research done in the service of creating a better user experience should not be preoccupied with solutions or methods, but just as strongly human-centered. This requires an examination of what the most human-centered research worldview would entail.
Personas are a collection of behaviors or common thought patterns discovered among current or potential users. These collections are given names and treated as fictional people. They can help clients and product teams start to understand user perspectives. Personas can help teams invision what users actually need, and start formulating solutions for those needs.