What I do

I offer a range of research services which can all be tailored according to need. If you are not quite sure what you want or need, get in touch I am very happy to work with you to figure that out.

Contextual Inquiry

Contextual Inquiry involves observing people in their natural work or other settings.

If you really want to know what people do and how people work with technology watch them. What people say and what they do is often very different. It is amazing how many small details you pick up in an exercise like this that have a major impact on productivity and ease of use.

Depth interviews

Depth interviews are normally one to one interviews with potential users or stakeholders.

Throughout the development lifecycle there are lots of opportunities to conduct interviews either with potential users or stakeholders. I conduct interviews in a way that is non-leading so the interviewee responds with what they really think and feel rather than providing the answer they think is right.

Diary studies

People are asked to keep diaries about their behaviour and habits that are later analysed to inform product design and improvement.

It’s not always feasible to conduct observational studies particularly into research about people’s home environment such as TV watching or how they use a mobile phone. Sometimes it may be necessary to understand and analyse behaviour over a longer period of time.

Getting people to keep diaries is a good way to understand their behaviour. Diaries don’t have to be written they can be video or audio recordings or you can give people disposable cameras and ask them to take pictures.

Diary studies are frequently followed up with one to one interviews to allow the researcher to ask more in depth questions about areas of special interest.

Ethnography

Ethnography includes a broad range of mainly qualitative tools and techniques including observational field studies, diary studies and questionnaires.

Ethnography involves engagement with people for extended periods of time; watching, listening, asking questions and collecting or cataloguing relevant artifacts. Ethnography methods can be borrowed for user experience research where they are adapted to work within more constrained time scales.

Focus groups

Focus groups involve getting a group of people together from your target audience and having a structured discussion on areas of interest.

Focus groups are less favoured in usability as you can get group bias where the person with the loudest voice or personality takes over. There are ways to limit group bias, I would recommend focus groups as a good technique early on in the development lifecycle to broadly understand user needs and wants. For evaluating software, user testing is recommended.

Full Usability Life Cycle

Usability can be entrenched in the entire development lifecycle from the moment your organisation asks the questions, ‘What are we designing?’ and ‘Who is this for?’

Usability is so much more than a quick user test before you go live.

Usability can help focus on real user goals and align those to organisational objectives. To do this you need to incorporate usability at the very start of your development lifecycle.

Heuristic reviews

Expert reviews quickly highlight potential usability and accessibility issues.

There is a vast amount of best practice in usability today and a professional expert reviewer can quickly identify many fundamental usability issues. This doesn’t replace the need for usability testing but strongly supports it.

Conducting a heuristic review prior to user testing means valuable test time isn’t wasted on ‘known’ issues.

Integrating diverse audiences

We live in a diverse society and there is an increasing obligation to encompass the needs of that society in the products and services we provide.

I am passionate about making technology usable and accessible for all and I promote diversity in all my research.

If you’ve been wondering how you can include someone who is blind and uses a screen reader in user testing or how to interview someone who’s profoundly deaf or even how to recruit more diverse audiences I can help you answer all those questions and integrate diverse audiences needs into your product development.

Persona creation

Personas are profiles of specific individuals in your target audience.

Personas help you understand your audience. An audience of teenage gamers will have very different objectives, goals and technology profiles to an audience of pensioners. By building very specific personas in each audience segment technology solutions can be geared to real people.

Personas are created by researching audience segments; this will include one to one interviews with representative individuals as well as reviewing relevant published research and information.

Training

I deliver disability equality training with my partner HearFirst. The disability and deaf equality training package ensures your organisation is meeting the needs of approximately 20% of the UK population who are defined as disabled by the Equality Act 2010.

Usability testing

Usability testing involves asking representative users to try out your technology or service.

Depending on what’s being evaluated the test may be very structured with pre-arranged tasks or the tasks may be created during the test session based on the users interests.

User tests can be conducted in a lab environment or in users home or work place. Sessions are normally recorded and then analysed to provide recommendations for product improvement.

I encourage the inclusion of representative audiences in usability testing including Deaf and disabled participants.

User scenarios

User scenarios are stories that bring to life how real people use your technology or service.

User scenarios are another persona tool. To bring your persona to life you can create stories and see how personas might use a particular feature on your website or a particular device such as a mobile phone.

By creating scenarios you can test out feasibility of new features. Scenarios help designers and developers understand and empathise more with their audience.