Aside from research, what do you do to relate better to users?

4 Sep 2009 - 7:03pm
6 years ago
2 replies
616 reads

Try learning dvorak (an alternative to the QWERTY keyboard layout.) If
you want frustration, there ain't nothing better than messing with the
connection from your brain to your keyboard.

(Worth it in the end though.)

On Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 11:18 AM, Jerome Ryckborst<j3rom3 at> wrote:
> I'm a PC regular who was "forced" to use an iMac over the past week to
> complete tasks that were very important to me. I succeeded, but there was
> plenty of frustration, confusion, and inefficiency.
> It struck me that this experience will help me interpret user research
> better.
> What do YOU do, in addition to user research, to better relate to and
> interpret your data? Here are three things I've done:
> -=- Jerome
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5 Sep 2009 - 10:44pm

> What do YOU do, in addition to user research, to better relate to
> and interpret your data?
> -=- Jerome

Sort of related... I enjoy watching my children interact with things.
Often (but not always) I realize that their first indication on how to
use something is EXACTLY how it should've been done. e.g. We got into
an elevator and I asked my 4 yr. old to select the 3rd floor. So she
pressed the # 3. Problem was, it was a label next to a button. She
kept pressing the 3, not the button next to it. It made me think of
interactions on the web or on the desktop when some labels are hot,
others are not and how that can frustrate users. Could have been an
aesthetic choice, could've been due to manufacturing costs - who
knows, but they put a label next to a blank button, and that confused
my 4 yr. old. Would it have confused anyone a bit older? Probably not
in the elevator's sense - but on the computer, I think having hot
labels, or the label BE the button can be an incredibly useful/usable
interaction method.

Other times it's interesting, but not quite as useful (e.g. that
person who mentioned after their 2 yr. old played w/ the iPhone they
went up to the TV and tried to interact with it the same way). Do we
need multi-touch TVs? Probably not - but we might want multi-touch
remote interfaces so we can sit on our couch, or a multi-touch
computer screen, or a multi-touch coffee table to augment both.

In short - watching my kids learn and grow and use things for the
first time gives me great insights into the human learning process -
and this I believe helps me with my job.

I bet a fun test for those with or without kids would be to take your
device - be it an iPhone, Kindle, remote control, cell phone etc. and
give it to a room of 5 yr. olds and see what they do with it without
any coaching. (and be willing to lose a few of them from smashing,
throwing, rough-housing too)


9 Sep 2009 - 4:51pm
gretchen anderson

- look for bulletin boards related to the domain you are interested in.
read what people are asking about/complaining about.
- go into a store where they sell the thing you are designing. Ask
people questions.
- if you're redesigning something: try teaching someone unfamiliar (but
not totally out of the realm of possibility) about it.
- try and make up personas. What *might* they care about/do/love/hate?
Don't kid yourself that you are basing stuff on the assumptions you
bring to the table, but in many cases (especially for general consumer
stuff) you'll have plenty of insights. The personas are just a way to
frame up the info for yourself and others.

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