UXD and Me

Introduction

In this article I will outline how I plan to integrate user experience research and design into my workflow for my final project. I have therefore structured my article to reflect the workflow outlined in our assessment overview.

I will first outline my user research plan where I will be using the resource that Steph Troeth used in class called a “Research Canvas” (Appendix 1). I have split the canvas into separate templates and I have slightly re-ordered the flow.

I am using the canvas to create separate templates to fit with the way that I like to write information quickly, for example, I often use mind maps to jot down lots of ideas. The sections from the Canvas I will be using are:

  • Existing Evidence
  • Assumptions and Hypotheses
  • Context and Objectives
  • Target audience
  • Methodology

Once the plan for user research has been outlined, I will then explain how I intend to use the research to ensure that my website is built with a User Centred Design approach, and then how I can continue to improve the User Design through review and evaluation.


Business and Cultural Context

I have already completed this first section in our project workflow so I will explain what I have done and how this will help integrate User Experience research and design into the rest of my project.

Existing Evidence

I have explored assumptions about how I think my proposed website will solve an existing problem.

The objectives of this research was:

  • To explore my assumption that this website solves an existing problem.
  • Find more detailed information about what the existing problems are.

My research was open ended, I used my own primary qualitative observations as a person who makes and sells, and also as a person who buys handmade goods. I also used some secondary sources from the Craft Council.

I have used the table in Appendix 2 to display some of this cognate research.

Which led me to my “elevator style pitch”:

A directory of creatives that either live or work in South East London, who make affordable goods that are made by hand.

Giving people in the local area the confidence to shop local and shop handmade.

For this directory South East London is defined as one of these Boroughs:

  • Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Lewisham
  • Bexley

Commodity

The next stage in my workflow is creating my content. The following research will help me to make user centred decisions about the content I will need produce.

Firstly I need to explain that there will be two types of users of the site;

1. Makers who will be contributors to the content of the site.

2. Customers who will be using the site to find a maker to eventually purchase from.

Assumptions and Hypotheses

The next stage from the research canvas will be writing down my assumptions about both users “customers” and “makers”. These assumptions will be based on my own as a maker and buyer myself, in addition to the existing research I did at the business and cultural context phase.

I have created the table in Appendix 3, which I have begun to use as I am currently at the commodity stage of my project. This section of the canvas also asks us to consider the hypotheses from the assumptions. I am still uncertain what a useful hypotheses is at this stage. I am unsure if the hypotheses should be considering what I think the research would tell us and how I will know if the research has proven this. Alternatively it may mean that I should consider what I think will happen should I eventually provide a solution to the users needs, and how I will know if the solution is successful. I suspect that actually the former is more useful at this stage, and the latter is perhaps more valuable during the prototype section of the workflow. Therefore I will need to revise the hypotheses section again.

Ultimately by altering my assumptions into a hypotheses I can then use this information to consider what I might want to ask users and therefore help me to create my research questions.

Context and Objectives

Now that I have considered the assumptions about my users, the research canvas suggests considering the context and then the objectives of the research, as shown in Appendix 4.

I have already mentioned that I work best by jotting down lots of ideas quickly. In Steph’s lecture the next step is to consider the methodology and then start to craft the questions. However before I continue with these steps I think it would be helpful for me to clarify what my overall objectives of the research could be at the stage.

Research Objectives for Makers

  • To find out what makers are looking for when trying to reach new potential customers locally.
  • What makers think is wrong and/or right with existing related sites.
  • To find opportunities to stand out from the competition.

Research Objectives for Customers

  • To find out what customers are looking for when the buy local and handmade.
  • To find out what customers want from a website to help them buy local handmade products.
  • What do customers that use cognate sites like and dislike about them.

However I need to be mindful that these objectives might change as I begin asking my users the research questions.

My Target Audiences

Originally I was thinking about using personas to display the target audiences. However as I started to think about what content to add to my personas I started mind-mapping them and then I realised that all of the information I was mapping were assumed behaviours grouped together to make a category for each type of user. I then realised that these mind-maps were displaying the information I needed to create categories for target audiences.

Therefore at this stage I created mind maps to define my target audiences, an example can be found in Appendix 5. Mind maps I have jotted quickly in my notebook have lead me to the following categories:

Customer categories:

  1. They have and/or regularly buy from maker markets.
  2. They regularly buy from local businesses (not exclusive to handmade).
  3. They like going to markets and looking at handmade things on social media but have never bought anything.

Maker categories:

  1. They currently sell regularly at markets (maker markets or other types of markets).
  2. Most of the business they get is from online sales (or exclusively online).
  3. They don’t sell anything online.

At this stage of the planning process I intend to interview/survey 5 individuals from each user category. So 15 customers interviews and 15 makers surveys.

Methodology

The next stage in the research canvas is to consider what my research methodology what it will be validating. I have already made some decisions on what methods I will be using to complete the research.

Makers

I already have a lot of assumptions and some primary research based on my experience with holding events. This research can be the in-between of “open ended” and “in depth” types of research methods. This is because my hypotheses has already been confirmed by one to one conversations with people, however these were not documented or analysed. Therefore using this primary information I will create a survey which I can send to people and ask them to complete.

This survey should validate:

  • If they find it hard to find the right type of audience for selling their products.
  • Online marketing is something that takes up too much time.
  • Online selling is a skill they do not have time to development.
  • The overall concept of the project if actually needed and wanted.
  • Promoting locality helps them to get sales and or an engaged audience.

Customers

This research will be open ended, this is because I have a very rough idea of what I think these users need, but this is not really based on very much, therefore I am still trying to find some answers to my assumptions. Therefore at this stage I will do some 1-to-1 interviews.

This survey should validate:

  • Why they buy handmade
  • What convinces customers to buy handmade
  • What convinces customers to buy from local businesses
  • How they want to buy in the future

Further Research

Following the results of the 1-to-1 interviews it is a possibility that I could use this information to do a survey which could further explore some of my hypotheses and give me a wider understanding of customer users.

Forming the Questions

Once I have completed these steps in the research canvas in full, I will be able to use this information to form questions in the form of a survey for makers, and then create a framework to use to interview customers.

User Centred Design

So far I have used a lot of detail to explain my user research process. Next I will explain how I plan to utilise this data to create a website that has a User Centred Design approach.

Empathy Mapping

Once I have completed the research I plan to sort the answers together, matching answers which have similar trends. When grouped I can start creating empathy maps similar to those shared with us during our lecture run by Chris How (Appendix 6).

The information I populate in the empathy maps I will use to create user personas, both for customers and for makers. Not having any results from the research at this moment, I have used the empathy map and re-phrased its headings in the template to create a persona template I could potentially use, this is in Appendix 7.

Finalising the User Centred Content

The next stage of the process is to use the user research to build content.

In order to do this I will use another template that Chris How shared with us in our session (Appendix 8). I will also use separate templates for customer and maker users.

Once this has been completed I can use the answers to create my content.

User Interface Flows

Using a UI flow I can then use the headings of each sections of the content to start mapping out the overall navigation of the site. Chris suggests using the technique outlined in Appendix 9. This works very well for me, as I like to map out ideas quickly.

I plan to do this as sketches with paper and pens so that I can do complete as many flows as I need to. To start the process I plan to use the different personas from the persona template. From each persona I will consider what their unique needs might be, and use this to sketch out how they might navigate the site.


Prototype

When I have completed the process of creating my content, I can plan to create wireframes and then eventually build the first version of the site.

Once I have this first version, I might will consider starting another round of user research.

The methodology at this point will most probably be close ended. I can give a customer a task and watch how they navigate the site. I can create a close ended evaluative survey for makers. I will also have back end evaluative data such as website traffic.

This is when I can also review the assumptions and hypotheses document, but now my assumptions, and hypotheses will potentially be different. The hypotheses can now help me think about what summative information I could gather at this stage.

Reviewing User Journeys

To review my prototype I plan on using the “crazy 8” process explained by Chris in our lecture. What I like about this technique is that it is similar to the way I like to start most of my processes through mind mapping. Chris tells us it is about getting as much information as quickly as possible. I intend to use this process to improve the problems highlighted in the prototype stage. This could be a problem a customer has in navigating the site when searching for something specific.


Analysis

The last part of the workflow for my final project is the analysis phase. At this stage I can continue with reviewing and evaluating with closed ended or summative and evaluative research mentioned at the prototype stage. It is also important for me to continue to review and evaluate the process I have suggested throughout the workflow process. As it is more than likely that my objectives will change as I start collecting user research.

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