[EVENT] IxDA Pittsburgh Event Recap

27 Oct 2009 - 10:28pm
436 reads
Jack L. Moffett

The Pittsburgh chapter of the IxDA gathered last Wednesday in the
historic Terminal Buildings, home of Gist Design. Gist led us through
an exercise in which we role-played through a usability research
scenario. The attendees were assigned to either the client, the
research team, or the pool of respondents. Each person on the client
side was provided with a card explaining their role in the company and
their motivations, which they had to express in the initial meeting
with the research team. The members of the research team had to probe
the client for the information they would need to design their study.
At the end of this first phase of the game, two judges rated us on our
performance, bestowing proclamations of “nice”, “niiice”, or

The whole exercise centered around a label maker, and the second phase
saw the research team fiddling with the device and planning out their
approach—what they wanted to learn and how they would go about
learning it. During this phase, they were interrupted by a phone call
from the client’s head of marketing, asking them to gather additional
information about their target market. They were again rated on their
performance before carrying out the study. This was the point at which
the respondents joined in, acting as study subjects, relating their
label-making needs and trying to figure out how to use the label
maker. The team was again rated on their performance during the study.
Finally, the research team had to organize their findings and present
to the client.

We all had a great time mimicking the customers and users we have
dealt with so many times in the past, and the exercise led to much
discussion about approaches to research, client relationships, and the
value of user research in the design process. Many thanks to Shelley
Moertel and her team at Gist for an entertaining and educational

Jack L. Moffett
IxDA Pittsburgh Co-Chair

Senior Interaction Designer
412.459.0310 x219

Design is a process -
an intimate collaboration between
engineers, designers, and clients.

- Henry Dreyfuss

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