Field research question

25 Sep 2007 - 1:42pm
7 years ago
3 replies
857 reads
Gary Beck
2007

Our user interface team is seeking information from those who have
conducted user research field studies - in particular, research and
interviews within people's homes.

For instance:
- How often have you conducted such studies?

- What examples can you point to as key benefits to doing field research?
(over lab-based near equivalents)?

- What kinds of problems have you encountered when doing such research?
(e.g., users claiming a malfunctioning computer system after the visit;
reassuring management of proposed field procedures to minimize risk, etc.)

- What have you determined to be best practices, both:
-- to initiate this type of research?
-- to promote continuing this type of research?

Thanks.

Gary
x37588

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Comments

26 Sep 2007 - 1:23am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

Hi Gary,
I did such a study in London during the summer of 2006. It was part of my
MSc project work, related to the user experience of digital photography. I
opted to visit people in their homes because I wanted them to show me and
talk about a selection of their personal photographs, and it would have been
unreasonable to have them bring their entire digital photo collection with
them. I interviewed 10 people, each of them twice (once talking about their
photos in general, and a follow-up interview shortly after they had been out
to some event and taken more photos).

I was a bit scared that something would go wrong but in general everyone was
quite friendly and it was easier than I expected. I didn't have to touch
their computers, they were using them and showing me the photos, only in the
end I gave them a USB memory stick and asked them to copy some of their
photos in it, everyone agreed to do this, especially knowing that I would
use them for research only and would not publish them without permission.
Also everyone happily let me set up a camcorder and record our interview.

On the downside, it was a hassle to travel all around London to see these
people (although I it's a hassle to travel around London to do anything,
anyway). Transcribing more than 10hrs of video material that I gathered was
also tedious, maybe would have been easier if there was a second person with
me, but then again people may start to react if you bring in too many people
in their house.

In the end, of course, It Depends :) What are you trying to achieve with a
field study that would not be practical to do in a lab? If you have a good
answer to this question, I think it's worth going through all the logistical
issues.

Hope this helps,

Alex

On 9/25/07, gary_beck at vanguard.com <gary_beck at vanguard.com> wrote:
>
> Our user interface team is seeking information from those who have
> conducted user research field studies - in particular, research and
> interviews within people's homes.
>
> For instance:
> - How often have you conducted such studies?
>
> - What examples can you point to as key benefits to doing field research?
> (over lab-based near equivalents)?
>
> - What kinds of problems have you encountered when doing such research?
> (e.g., users claiming a malfunctioning computer system after the visit;
> reassuring management of proposed field procedures to minimize risk, etc.)
>
> - What have you determined to be best practices, both:
> -- to initiate this type of research?
> -- to promote continuing this type of research?
>
> Thanks.
>
> Gary
> x37588
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT. The information contained in this e-mail
> message, including attachments, is the confidential information of, and/or
> is the property of, Vanguard. The information is intended for use solely by
> the individual or entity named in the message. If you are not an intended
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26 Sep 2007 - 8:20am
jennifer fraser
2007

> - How often have you conducted such studies?

25+ times. We have conducted field studies during various product cycles for
the last 4 years. The feild studies are conducted in our customers' "work
environment" which is sometimes their home.

> - What examples can you point to as key benefits to doing field research?
>(over lab-based near equivalents)?

You gain insight into how your customers are using your product as a part of
their own "ecosystem":
What other hardware and software are they using in conjunction with your
product?
How well does your product play with all the other tools they are relying on
to get their work done?
What is their workflow as they work between your product and all their other
tools?
How do they use your product when sharing work with others?

You can see how they are using your product itself:
How do they access it?
Have they customized it? If so, how and why?

You can gather invaluable information from the physical environment itself:
What product collateral have they kept and why?
Is there a physical manual that they refer to? If so, is it one your comapny
created or one from a 3rd Party?

Customers will provide you with both "hard" and "soft" artifacts related to
your product.
We have come back with customer files that our QA team can add to their pool
of test files, but it is the physical artifacts we bring back that seem to
really resonate with people in the company. They can see for themselves the
type of "stuff" that people are actually creating with our products, be it a
print out of a document or something that has been engraved on a laser
engraver.

> - What kinds of problems have you encountered when doing such research?
>(e.g., users claiming a malfunctioning computer system after the visit;
>reassuring management of proposed field procedures to minimize risk, etc.)

We have encountered no problems.
For many reasons, the site visits are always conducted in pairs. There was
one situation where the customer worked out of her home and was comfortable
with proceeding with the visit only after she understood that the two people
that would be visiting her house were both female.

> - What have you determined to be best practices, both:
> -- to initiate this type of research?

We select candidates for the site visit from a pool of people with whom we
have already conducted phone interviews. This way we have already
established a "relationship" with them and we have confirmed that their
workflow fits that of our target market. It is a part of our phone interview
"template" to ask if they would be interested in participating in a "site
visit" with us.

> -- to promote continuing this type of research?
The information from our research goes into a document that we present to
different teams across the organization. This ensures that everyone has the
same basic foundation of information about who the customers is, what they
do and how they do it.

_________________________________________________________________
Enter to win a night a VIP night out at TIFF
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29 Sep 2007 - 8:53am
dszuc
2005

Hi Gary:

This may interest.

Chinese Home Site Visits - Tips & Hints -
http://www.apogeehk.com/articles/tips_for_chinese_home_visits.html

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Kit - http://www.theusabilitykit.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Alexander Baxevanis
Sent: Wednesday, 26 September 2007 3:23 PM
To: gary_beck at vanguard.com
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Field research question

Hi Gary,
I did such a study in London during the summer of 2006. It was part of my
MSc project work, related to the user experience of digital photography. I
opted to visit people in their homes because I wanted them to show me and
talk about a selection of their personal photographs, and it would have been
unreasonable to have them bring their entire digital photo collection with
them. I interviewed 10 people, each of them twice (once talking about their
photos in general, and a follow-up interview shortly after they had been out
to some event and taken more photos).

I was a bit scared that something would go wrong but in general everyone was
quite friendly and it was easier than I expected. I didn't have to touch
their computers, they were using them and showing me the photos, only in the
end I gave them a USB memory stick and asked them to copy some of their
photos in it, everyone agreed to do this, especially knowing that I would
use them for research only and would not publish them without permission.
Also everyone happily let me set up a camcorder and record our interview.

On the downside, it was a hassle to travel all around London to see these
people (although I it's a hassle to travel around London to do anything,
anyway). Transcribing more than 10hrs of video material that I gathered was
also tedious, maybe would have been easier if there was a second person with
me, but then again people may start to react if you bring in too many people
in their house.

In the end, of course, It Depends :) What are you trying to achieve with a
field study that would not be practical to do in a lab? If you have a good
answer to this question, I think it's worth going through all the logistical
issues.

Hope this helps,

Alex

On 9/25/07, gary_beck at vanguard.com <gary_beck at vanguard.com> wrote:
>
> Our user interface team is seeking information from those who have
> conducted user research field studies - in particular, research and
> interviews within people's homes.
>
> For instance:
> - How often have you conducted such studies?
>
> - What examples can you point to as key benefits to doing field research?
> (over lab-based near equivalents)?
>
> - What kinds of problems have you encountered when doing such research?
> (e.g., users claiming a malfunctioning computer system after the
> visit; reassuring management of proposed field procedures to minimize
> risk, etc.)
>
> - What have you determined to be best practices, both:
> -- to initiate this type of research?
> -- to promote continuing this type of research?
>
> Thanks.
>
> Gary
> x37588
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT. The information contained in this e-mail
> message, including attachments, is the confidential information of,
> and/or is the property of, Vanguard. The information is intended for
> use solely by the individual or entity named in the message. If you
> are not an intended recipient or you received this in error, then any
> review, printing, copying, or distribution of any such information is
> prohibited, and please notify the sender immediately by reply e-mail
> and then delete this e-mail from your system.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
> ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines List Help
> .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help Unsubscribe
> ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe Questions
> .................. list at ixda.org Home .......................
> http://beta.ixda.org
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines ............
http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines List Help ..................
http://beta.ixda.org/help Unsubscribe ................
http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe Questions .................. list at ixda.org
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