Another way to uncover users' latent needs?

17 Oct 2005 - 5:02pm
8 years ago
20 replies
3793 reads
russwilson
2005

After reading a fair amount on ethnography, empathic research,
and other methods targeted at getting inside the user's mind,
I'm wondering if it wouldn't be "easier" to approach it from
the other side: to train users to communicate their latent needs.

The techniques mentioned above can be costly to implement,
and users' domains, in some cases, can be difficult for a designer
to completely understand.

DESIGNER ----/tools/----------------------> NEED <---/??/---- USER

Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and communicate
their
latent needs?

This stems from the concept that users' communicate wants, but they
don't always
know what they need.

Does any of this make sense, or am I completely confused from lack of
sleep? :-)

Russell Wilson
Director of Product Design
NetQoS, Inc.

Comments

17 Oct 2005 - 5:42pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

WR> Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and communicate
WR> their latent needs?

WR> This stems from the concept that users' communicate wants, but they
WR> don't always know what they need.

Personally, even if the uncovering techniques existed, I wouldn't
rely on them alone. Internal perception is often skewed; one sees the
effect rather then the cause itself. I may think that all I need at 9
am to switch me on is a cup of coffee. What we may uncover with the
latent need discovery is that I don't sleep well at night and
therefore need a good night sleep, not a coffee. But the real reason
behind not sleeping well may be my stomach ulcer -- and, therefore, we
need to treat ulcer, not sleep deprivation. But I wouldn't be able to
uncover this, unless you turn me into a doctor.

Mind you, I am all for the need solicitation techniques. But they alone
won't suffice. An external professional eye will always be needed, to
triangulate with the internal view. Good ethnographic are like
doctors: they are trained to see professionally what one cannot know
until one is a professional.

"Triangulation" is the magic word used so far in the profession :-)

Lada

17 Oct 2005 - 10:12pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

> WR> Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and
communicate
> WR> their latent needs?

LG> Mind you, I am all for the need solicitation techniques. But they alone
> won't suffice. An external professional eye will always be needed, to
> triangulate with the internal view. Good ethnographic are like
> doctors: they are trained to see professionally what one cannot know
> until one is a professional.

And professionals tend to see the world through their own agenda. Ask for
help from 3 different professional disciplines and you will get ..... 3
different analyses.

RE: "the morning cup of coffee":

I'm tired in the morning.

I think I need a cup of coffee to get me going in the morning.

1) The physician says that my poor sleep is because of a stomach ulcer.
2) The shrink says that my stomach ulcer is because of my stress.
3) The nutritionist says that I'm stressed because I drink too much
coffee.

And so on.

The *real* reason? Well, that's why they call it "virtual reality", I
guess. And a correct analysis is whatever you can justify.

What makes IxD folks so valuable to the whole process is that we are by
nature and by training polymorphs.
Humanist/artist/analyst/documentarian/social scientist/architect (Just call
me "Slash"). We bring a lot to the table (sort of internalize the partisan
bickering).

18 Oct 2005 - 1:37am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

Russell,

Maybe it is not so much a matter of training users to "uncover and
communicate latent needs" as in articulation/externalization, but
rather a question of empowering them to influence the design process.

Participatory design is an idea with its roots in architecture and
product design already in the 50s, then introduced into systems
development in the 70s primarily in Scandinavia. The original aim of
PD was to empower users in their relations with employers, typically
in the context of labor unions. In the early 90s, PD was appropriated
by North-American HCI and more or less reinterpreted as a way of
increasing user acceptance and, yes, attention to latent needs.

There is a rather significant literature on PD. A good introduction
for your purposes might be the June 1993 issue of Communications of
the ACM (vol 36, nr 6) which was a special issue with several
introductory PD articles.

Regards,
Jonas Löwgren

----
Arts and Communication
Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

phone +46 7039 17854
web http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo

18 Oct 2005 - 9:40am
Marijke Rijsberman
2004

>1) The physician says that my poor sleep is because of a stomach ulcer.
> 2) The shrink says that my stomach ulcer is because of my stress.
> 3) The nutritionist says that I'm stressed because I drink too much
>coffee.

>The *real* reason? Well, that's why they call it "virtual reality", I
>guess. And a correct analysis is whatever you can justify.

Exactly. In a more scientific context, all of those suggestions would be
called hypotheses and the prescribed treatments would be proposed in the
spirit of experiments (to test these hypotheses). What I find frustrating is
not that there is no way to identify the correct analysis by just eyeballing
the problem, but that so often people think that they have a correct
analysis when they have thought of their first hypothesis (and instantly
stop there), with hardly any evidence of internal or external partisan
bickering of any kind.

Marijke

Interfacility
User Research and Design
marijke at interfacility.com
650-868-3432

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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18 Oct 2005 - 11:44am
Daphne Ogle
2005

Along the lines of participatory design, 'Extreme Programming' suggests
a "Voice of the Customer". Kent Beck describes the 'VoC' as an end user
that joins the development team. In my experience this can be a bit
dangerous. A particular is idiosyncratic in their needs, their mental
models, their technical knowledge, etc. Our job as UED's is to figure
out who the archetypical user is (primary persona) and remove some of
those idiosyncrasies while really understanding how the users work.

I just received a very related distribution list email from a software
design and development firm, Menlo Innovations, that practices Extreme
Programming and High Tech Anthropology (HTA). The HTA's replace the VOC
in their practice. The email titled, "Stop -- Yes, Stop --- Listening"
is below:

"Dear Daphne,

One of the reasons we call our design practice "High-Tech Anthropology" is that we focus on observation rather than interviews when we design and build systems. We use the techniques of an anthropologist to observe how people actually behave; we do not rely on their recollections or reports of how they behave.

Recently, while traveling I was listening to a book on CD. This is a technique I highly recommend by the way, you learn and the time passes quickly. The book, What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith was just beginning and already enjoyable and then Beckwith read the following passage.

***

"Stop---Yes, Stop --- Listening. For years, books have encouraged you to create innovations by listening to your customers.

Stop.

Every day American businesses introduce changes based on what clients said. Conservatively, 85 percent of these changes have no effect. Others backfire completely. This pervasive plea to "listen more" rests on a flawed assumption: It assumes that people say what they think. They do not. People often say whatever will make them look good to the person asking the question -- market researchers for example. Almost no one confesses to drinking too much or fudging expense reports. Thousands of men who teared up watching The Remains of the Day insist it was a silly chick film. Few Twinkies fans own up.

The second flaw in the plea "listen more" is the assumption that people understand themselves well enough to reveal themselves accurately. When we search our souls, we know this isn't right...

Listen to prospects and clients by all means-but always with mounds of salt.

Psychologists for decades have recognized that words are misleading, and that it's better to observe. 'Life happens at the level of events, not words,' the noted psychologist Alfred Adler once said.

Trust only movement.

Do not listen; watch. To cut through all of the protective layers and get into people's hiding places, look harder and more carefully. Become the very definition of a great researcher; learn to look at what everyone else looks at - and see something different.

Stop listening and start looking."

***

I was awed with the simplicity and clarity of Beckwith's exhortation. In a few simple sentences he described the heart of High-Tech Anthropology. I hit the back button on my CD and listened to him read the chapter again, then again, then again.

When I got back to the office, I ordered a hard copy of the book to make sure I quoted him exactly.

"Trust only movement. Do not listen; watch."
If you are building a HTA team, order a copy of Harry Beckwith's book, What Clients Love. Then, when you get to the section on listening, read it out loud two or three times.

Make it a part of your soul.

Rich Sheridan
President

"Unusually useful software is a bright idea!"

Menlo Innovations LLC
212 N. Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor
MI 48104
United States"

Jonas Löwgren wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Russell,
>
>Maybe it is not so much a matter of training users to "uncover and
>communicate latent needs" as in articulation/externalization, but
>rather a question of empowering them to influence the design process.
>
>Participatory design is an idea with its roots in architecture and
>product design already in the 50s, then introduced into systems
>development in the 70s primarily in Scandinavia. The original aim of
>PD was to empower users in their relations with employers, typically
>in the context of labor unions. In the early 90s, PD was appropriated
>by North-American HCI and more or less reinterpreted as a way of
>increasing user acceptance and, yes, attention to latent needs.
>
>There is a rather significant literature on PD. A good introduction
>for your purposes might be the June 1993 issue of Communications of
>the ACM (vol 36, nr 6) which was a special issue with several
>introductory PD articles.
>
>Regards,
>Jonas Löwgren
>
>----
>Arts and Communication
>Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden
>
>phone +46 7039 17854
>web http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixda.org/
>Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

--
Daphne Ogle
User Interaction Designer, Learning Systems Group

http://ets.berkeley.edu
University of California, Berkeley
Educational Technology Services
117 Dwinelle Hall, #2535
Berkeley, CA 94720

Desk: 510-642-9159
Mobile: 734-634-3612

18 Oct 2005 - 3:09pm
Ted Boren
2005

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Contextual Inquiry or Contextual Design yet.
Maybe it's seen as basically ethnographic, which seemed to leave a bad taste in
your mouth, but the fact is that you can't just ask people what they need and
expect a workable answer 95% of the time. People can articulate some (but not
all) of what they do, and a lot (though still not all) of what goes wrong, but
this only gives you clues as to what they really NEED.

The only way to train them to tell us what they really need would be to have
them conduct what is essentially a contextual inquiry or ethnographic study of
their own work practice. But it's doubtful whether this would work very well
because A) when people are experts at their work they often gloss over relevant
details because the steps have become automated; B) they will use their own
jargon without realizing that the design team doesn't know the jargon; C)
introspection & self-evaluation has never been very successful. I think these
are all reasons why the Voice of the Customer has always got to be balanced with
solid Observation & Interview of the Customer if you really want to understand
what's going on (followed by validation of what you've learned with the
customer).

Good luck!

Ted

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18 Oct 2005 - 3:51pm
Joseph Juhnke
2005

Hello,

I'm really enjoying this conversation. Thanks for that.

I'm wondering what, if any, effort has been put to standardizing our
terminology? I've seen presentations on Extreme Ethnography, Rapid
Ethnography, various Anthropologies, etc. and found them very similar
in concept. Seeing your reference to High Tech Anthropology reminded me
that we are working in a relatively young (depending on your frame)
field and further blurring it with non-standard terminology isn't
helping consumers understand our value.

Daphne, please don't take this as a criticism. If it were mine there
would've been a ™ after it. :)

Is this an old discussion that I missed? I'd love to discuss. (oh and
I don't hate adjectives... really)

Joseph

On Oct 18, 2005, at 11:44 AM, Daphne Ogle wrote:

> I just received a very related distribution list email from a software
> design and development firm, Menlo Innovations, that practices Extreme
> Programming and High Tech Anthropology (HTA). The HTA's replace the
> VOC
> in their practice. The email titled, "Stop -- Yes, Stop --- Listening"
> is below:
>
........................................
Joseph W Juhnke

Director
Interactive Technology
tanagram partners

125 North Halsted Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60661

tel 312/876 3668
fax 312/876 3662
http://www.tanagrampartners.com

18 Oct 2005 - 9:52pm
Lyle Kantrovich
2005

Russell,

It would be good to refresh our memories with a few definitions here:

1. implicit needs: what customers assume by default is available

2. explicit needs what customers say they need

3. latent needs: needs customers are still not aware of

By definition, a latent need is never understood by the customer.

You have a nice thought of training customers to just tell us what
they need...but there's no "silver bullet" available.

First, there are gazillions of
customers/users/employees/whatever...training all of them, or even a
representative sample would be much more costly than training a core
group of good ethnographers.

Secondly, usually someone has to draw conclusions, generalizations or
distinctions between groups. Even if I can perfectly articulate to
someone what ALL my needs are, someone still usually has to aggregate
needs across many people.

Thirdly, as others have pointed out. People are internally biased.
For example: I'm perfect, just ask me... :-)

I include a section on observation/ethnography in an on-site UCD class
I teach designers. We run the observation in the same office
building the students work in every day. Just by training them to
look at and listen to numerous environmental factors, it's amazing how
many things they notice that they never noticed previously. The other
thing that becomes clear is that it's hard (impossible?) to be both an
active participant and an active observer. At best people "switch
hats"...but in taking on both roles you are changing the experience
itself.

Here are some examples to illustrate why trained observers are better
than self reporting:

1. Please describe how you speak in front of a crowd, emphasizing tone
of voice, mannerisms, etc. Now listen to a recording of yourself...

2. Please describe your morning grooming routine. We'd like a lot of
detail on how you brush/comb your hair...especially on the back of
your head. How do you hold the brush? Do you make any facial
expressions or sounds?

An observer would note many different things - just by nature of
having a different point of view. Some of those different
observations could highlight latent needs...that might lead to an
industry changing innovation.

Sometimes there's no shortcut if you want a quality outcome.

--
Lyle

--------------------------
Lyle Kantrovich
Blog: Croc O' Lyle
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com

19 Oct 2005 - 9:29am
Ripul Kumar
2005

>>Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and communicate
their latent needs?

Users do convey their need strongly, we as designers either fail to decipher the communication or are not equipped to decipher it.

I strongly believe that users need no training as users are always correct - products fail to communicate and fail to show users how to use them. To fulfill this Utopian philosophy, its a designer's job to uncover users' needs, desires, and fantasies. There are many ways to uncover these, some of them are:
1. Contextual Observation
2. Contextual Inquiry
3. Usability Testing
4. Mining data of customer support queries and resolutions
5. Questions about the product on web-based forums and lists
6. Blogs about raves and rants
7. Participatory design exercises (or co-creation)
8. Focus Groups
9. Surveys

There is no single technique that acts like a magic wand. Designers must understand pros and cons of each technique and use the techniques that are needed in the current context and with current constraints (budget, time, access to users, internal resources, etc.).

Having said this, there are only a few of us who are trained to conduct successful contextual observation and inquiry sessions. Many of us rely on initial usability testing for this data - a great technique to start uncovering user needs. Each day I am learning more about how users communicate with us...

Cheers,
- Ripul

--
Ripul Kumar
Director, User Research and Usability Consulting
Kern Communications Pvt. Ltd., India
www.kern-comm.com
Tel: +91-40-55196854
Mob: +91-98-66342166

19 Oct 2005 - 9:40am
Joseph Juhnke
2005

Hi Lyle,

I was talking to a friend about triangulating user requirements when he
surprised me with a question I could only half answer.

"Why don't the observers become the customers?"

After stumbling on my tongue for a bit I said the same thing you said
that observers and participants had distinct perspectives. But then I
got to thinking. What if one started as an observer and then became a
participant? Wouldn't that produce an interesting level of awareness?

I haven't explored this thinking thoroughly. There are obvious concerns
like time and cost, but I still think its an interesting concept.
Perhaps a bad side effect would be interpretational bias (I like to do
it this way) but it seems as a "wolf" in sheep's clothing one would be
alert to such things.

Anyone done something like this? Good/Bad experiences?

Joseph

On Oct 18, 2005, at 9:52 PM, Lyle Kantrovich wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Russell,
>
> It would be good to refresh our memories with a few definitions here:
>
> 1. implicit needs: what customers assume by default is available
>
> 2. explicit needs what customers say they need
>
> 3. latent needs: needs customers are still not aware of
>
> By definition, a latent need is never understood by the customer.
>
> You have a nice thought of training customers to just tell us what
> they need...but there's no "silver bullet" available.
>
> First, there are gazillions of
> customers/users/employees/whatever...training all of them, or even a
> representative sample would be much more costly than training a core
> group of good ethnographers.
>
> Secondly, usually someone has to draw conclusions, generalizations or
> distinctions between groups. Even if I can perfectly articulate to
> someone what ALL my needs are, someone still usually has to aggregate
> needs across many people.
>
> Thirdly, as others have pointed out. People are internally biased.
> For example: I'm perfect, just ask me... :-)
>
> I include a section on observation/ethnography in an on-site UCD class
> I teach designers. We run the observation in the same office
> building the students work in every day. Just by training them to
> look at and listen to numerous environmental factors, it's amazing how
> many things they notice that they never noticed previously. The other
> thing that becomes clear is that it's hard (impossible?) to be both an
> active participant and an active observer. At best people "switch
> hats"...but in taking on both roles you are changing the experience
> itself.
>
> Here are some examples to illustrate why trained observers are better
> than self reporting:
>
> 1. Please describe how you speak in front of a crowd, emphasizing tone
> of voice, mannerisms, etc. Now listen to a recording of yourself...
>
> 2. Please describe your morning grooming routine. We'd like a lot of
> detail on how you brush/comb your hair...especially on the back of
> your head. How do you hold the brush? Do you make any facial
> expressions or sounds?
>
> An observer would note many different things - just by nature of
> having a different point of view. Some of those different
> observations could highlight latent needs...that might lead to an
> industry changing innovation.
>
> Sometimes there's no shortcut if you want a quality outcome.
>
> --
> Lyle
>
> --------------------------
> Lyle Kantrovich
> Blog: Croc O' Lyle
> http://crocolyle.blogspot.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>
........................................
Joseph W Juhnke

Director
Interactive Technology
tanagram partners

125 North Halsted Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60661

tel 312/876 3668
fax 312/876 3662
http://www.tanagrampartners.com

19 Oct 2005 - 11:08am
russwilson
2005

This is where I disagree.

I would say that user's communicate what they want,
but very often don't know what they *need* (latent needs).
Sometimes wants and needs intersect, and of course, once a latent
need is discovered and presented to the user, it should
become a "want".

As a product designer, I am most interested in needs. Why?
Because I would argue that wants rarely lead to innovation.
I want to discover latent needs in order to innovate.

In fact, I would argue that satisfying wants is most applicable
to projects / contracts / consulting work (i.e. meeting requirements).
But satisfying needs is important to product development where
innovation and staying ahead of the game are the goals.

Hence my initial post regarding ways to get to those needs.

Russell Wilson
Director of Product Design
NetQoS, Inc.
Tel: 512-422-4155

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Ripul Kumar
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:29 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

>>Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and
>>communicate
their latent needs?

Users do convey their need strongly, we as designers either fail to
decipher the communication or are not equipped to decipher it.

I strongly believe that users need no training as users are always
correct - products fail to communicate and fail to show users how to use
them. To fulfill this Utopian philosophy, its a designer's job to
uncover users' needs, desires, and fantasies. There are many ways to
uncover these, some of them are:
1. Contextual Observation
2. Contextual Inquiry
3. Usability Testing
4. Mining data of customer support queries and resolutions 5. Questions
about the product on web-based forums and lists 6. Blogs about raves and
rants 7. Participatory design exercises (or co-creation) 8. Focus Groups
9. Surveys

There is no single technique that acts like a magic wand. Designers must
understand pros and cons of each technique and use the techniques that
are needed in the current context and with current constraints (budget,
time, access to users, internal resources, etc.).

Having said this, there are only a few of us who are trained to conduct
successful contextual observation and inquiry sessions. Many of us rely
on initial usability testing for this data - a great technique to start
uncovering user needs. Each day I am learning more about how users
communicate with us...

Cheers,
- Ripul

--
Ripul Kumar
Director, User Research and Usability Consulting Kern Communications
Pvt. Ltd., India www.kern-comm.com
Tel: +91-40-55196854
Mob: +91-98-66342166
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options
... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

19 Oct 2005 - 11:22am
russwilson
2005

Lyle,

Good points. I'm not expecting a silver bullet; just
exploring possibilities.

For example, could a simple method be defined and given to
some sample group that would step them through the process of
discovering their latent needs (for that particular
product domain). Possibly the method would involve
psychological introspective techniques.

And maybe this already exists. Maybe it's still in the
domain of ethnography (because essentially you would be
guiding the user). I guess the *twist* I was exploring
was that the user would arrive at their own latent needs
versus a specialist/designer "observing" them.

Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
512-334-3725

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Lyle Kantrovich
Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 9:52 PM
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Russell,

It would be good to refresh our memories with a few definitions here:

1. implicit needs: what customers assume by default is available

2. explicit needs what customers say they need

3. latent needs: needs customers are still not aware of

By definition, a latent need is never understood by the customer.

You have a nice thought of training customers to just tell us what they
need...but there's no "silver bullet" available.

First, there are gazillions of
customers/users/employees/whatever...training all of them, or even a
representative sample would be much more costly than training a core
group of good ethnographers.

Secondly, usually someone has to draw conclusions, generalizations or
distinctions between groups. Even if I can perfectly articulate to
someone what ALL my needs are, someone still usually has to aggregate
needs across many people.

Thirdly, as others have pointed out. People are internally biased.
For example: I'm perfect, just ask me... :-)

I include a section on observation/ethnography in an on-site UCD class
I teach designers. We run the observation in the same office
building the students work in every day. Just by training them to look
at and listen to numerous environmental factors, it's amazing how many
things they notice that they never noticed previously. The other thing
that becomes clear is that it's hard (impossible?) to be both an active
participant and an active observer. At best people "switch hats"...but
in taking on both roles you are changing the experience itself.

Here are some examples to illustrate why trained observers are better
than self reporting:

1. Please describe how you speak in front of a crowd, emphasizing tone
of voice, mannerisms, etc. Now listen to a recording of yourself...

2. Please describe your morning grooming routine. We'd like a lot of
detail on how you brush/comb your hair...especially on the back of your
head. How do you hold the brush? Do you make any facial expressions or
sounds?

An observer would note many different things - just by nature of having
a different point of view. Some of those different observations could
highlight latent needs...that might lead to an industry changing
innovation.

Sometimes there's no shortcut if you want a quality outcome.

--
Lyle

--------------------------
Lyle Kantrovich
Blog: Croc O' Lyle
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options
... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

19 Oct 2005 - 1:23pm
russwilson
2005

Great points Daphne - thanks.

While we're on the subject - can you (or anyone else)
suggest some reference material on ethnography and empathic
research? Are there any specific key works for these topics?

Thanks!
Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
512-334-3725

-----Original Message-----
From: Daphne Ogle [mailto:daphne at media.berkeley.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 1:03 PM
To: Wilson, Russell
Cc: Ripul Kumar; discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?

Maybe I'm naive but the reason I got into this field almost a decade ago
was to make people's lives better with technology (spurred by reading
"The Inmates Are Running the Asylum"). I totally agree with Russell
here. In my experience, users can't express what will really help them
in them work. I shared this thread with a friend of mine in the field
and he responded, "User's are perfectly capable of expressing their
latent needs. They just can't do it verbally, that's why we do
ethnography and empathic research!". I couldn't have said it better.

This kind of research does take time and it's difficult to do it well
but when done right, the payoff is well worth it. In my opinion it is
the only way to create software that really meets users needs...without
them creating a bunch of workarounds to get the software to do what they
need.

-Daphne

Wilson, Russell wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>material.]
>
>This is where I disagree.
>
>I would say that user's communicate what they want, but very often
>don't know what they *need* (latent needs).
>Sometimes wants and needs intersect, and of course, once a latent need
>is discovered and presented to the user, it should become a "want".
>
>As a product designer, I am most interested in needs. Why?
>Because I would argue that wants rarely lead to innovation.
>I want to discover latent needs in order to innovate.
>
>In fact, I would argue that satisfying wants is most applicable to
>projects / contracts / consulting work (i.e. meeting requirements).
>But satisfying needs is important to product development where
>innovation and staying ahead of the game are the goals.
>
>Hence my initial post regarding ways to get to those needs.
>
>Russell Wilson
>Director of Product Design
>NetQoS, Inc.
>Tel: 512-422-4155
>
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
>Ripul Kumar
>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:29 AM
>To: discuss at ixda.org
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?
>
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>material.]
>
>
>
>>>Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and
>>>communicate
>>>
>>>
>their latent needs?
>
>Users do convey their need strongly, we as designers either fail to
>decipher the communication or are not equipped to decipher it.
>
>I strongly believe that users need no training as users are always
>correct - products fail to communicate and fail to show users how to
>use them. To fulfill this Utopian philosophy, its a designer's job to
>uncover users' needs, desires, and fantasies. There are many ways to
>uncover these, some of them are:
>1. Contextual Observation
>2. Contextual Inquiry
>3. Usability Testing
>4. Mining data of customer support queries and resolutions 5. Questions

>about the product on web-based forums and lists 6. Blogs about raves
>and rants 7. Participatory design exercises (or co-creation) 8. Focus
>Groups 9. Surveys
>
>There is no single technique that acts like a magic wand. Designers
>must understand pros and cons of each technique and use the techniques
>that are needed in the current context and with current constraints
>(budget, time, access to users, internal resources, etc.).
>
>Having said this, there are only a few of us who are trained to conduct

>successful contextual observation and inquiry sessions. Many of us rely

>on initial usability testing for this data - a great technique to start

>uncovering user needs. Each day I am learning more about how users
>communicate with us...
>
>Cheers,
>- Ripul
>
>--
>Ripul Kumar
>Director, User Research and Usability Consulting Kern Communications
>Pvt. Ltd., India www.kern-comm.com
>Tel: +91-40-55196854
>Mob: +91-98-66342166
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options
>... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
>http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
.......................
>http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options
>... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
>http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ...........
>http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

--
Daphne Ogle
User Interaction Designer, Learning Systems Group

http://ets.berkeley.edu
University of California, Berkeley
Educational Technology Services
117 Dwinelle Hall, #2535
Berkeley, CA 94720

Desk: 510-642-9159
Mobile: 734-634-3612

19 Oct 2005 - 1:02pm
Daphne Ogle
2005

Maybe I'm naive but the reason I got into this field almost a decade ago
was to make people's lives better with technology (spurred by reading
"The Inmates Are Running the Asylum"). I totally agree with Russell
here. In my experience, users can't express what will really help them
in them work. I shared this thread with a friend of mine in the field
and he responded, "User's are perfectly capable of expressing their
latent needs. They just can't do it verbally, that's why we do
ethnography and empathic research!". I couldn't have said it better.

This kind of research does take time and it's difficult to do it well
but when done right, the payoff is well worth it. In my opinion it is
the only way to create software that really meets users needs...without
them creating a bunch of workarounds to get the software to do what they
need.

-Daphne

Wilson, Russell wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>This is where I disagree.
>
>I would say that user's communicate what they want,
>but very often don't know what they *need* (latent needs).
>Sometimes wants and needs intersect, and of course, once a latent
>need is discovered and presented to the user, it should
>become a "want".
>
>As a product designer, I am most interested in needs. Why?
>Because I would argue that wants rarely lead to innovation.
>I want to discover latent needs in order to innovate.
>
>In fact, I would argue that satisfying wants is most applicable
>to projects / contracts / consulting work (i.e. meeting requirements).
>But satisfying needs is important to product development where
>innovation and staying ahead of the game are the goals.
>
>Hence my initial post regarding ways to get to those needs.
>
>Russell Wilson
>Director of Product Design
>NetQoS, Inc.
>Tel: 512-422-4155
>
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
>Ripul Kumar
>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:29 AM
>To: discuss at ixda.org
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?
>
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>material.]
>
>
>
>>>Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and
>>>communicate
>>>
>>>
>their latent needs?
>
>Users do convey their need strongly, we as designers either fail to
>decipher the communication or are not equipped to decipher it.
>
>I strongly believe that users need no training as users are always
>correct - products fail to communicate and fail to show users how to use
>them. To fulfill this Utopian philosophy, its a designer's job to
>uncover users' needs, desires, and fantasies. There are many ways to
>uncover these, some of them are:
>1. Contextual Observation
>2. Contextual Inquiry
>3. Usability Testing
>4. Mining data of customer support queries and resolutions 5. Questions
>about the product on web-based forums and lists 6. Blogs about raves and
>rants 7. Participatory design exercises (or co-creation) 8. Focus Groups
>9. Surveys
>
>There is no single technique that acts like a magic wand. Designers must
>understand pros and cons of each technique and use the techniques that
>are needed in the current context and with current constraints (budget,
>time, access to users, internal resources, etc.).
>
>Having said this, there are only a few of us who are trained to conduct
>successful contextual observation and inquiry sessions. Many of us rely
>on initial usability testing for this data - a great technique to start
>uncovering user needs. Each day I am learning more about how users
>communicate with us...
>
>Cheers,
>- Ripul
>
>--
>Ripul Kumar
>Director, User Research and Usability Consulting Kern Communications
>Pvt. Ltd., India www.kern-comm.com
>Tel: +91-40-55196854
>Mob: +91-98-66342166
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options
>... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
>http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
>http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixda.org/
>Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

--
Daphne Ogle
User Interaction Designer, Learning Systems Group

http://ets.berkeley.edu
University of California, Berkeley
Educational Technology Services
117 Dwinelle Hall, #2535
Berkeley, CA 94720

Desk: 510-642-9159
Mobile: 734-634-3612

19 Oct 2005 - 3:13pm
Doug Murray
2005

>>> "Joseph Juhnke" <jjuhnke at tanagram.com> 10/19/2005 8:40:36 AM >>>
> "Why don't the observers become the customers?"

Agile methods generally call for a customer/user voice on the development team.
Often this falls short of ideal because the designated user loses touch with
his/her former reality. On relinquishing their role with the development team,
and resuming life as a normal customer, they do have a heightened sensitivity.
But, it generally fades quickly. In short, there might be some limited,
short-term benefits, but it wouldn't provide the same insight as observing
*real* customers. And, that assumes that they started as customers before they
were observers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This message may contain confidential information, and is
intended only for the use of the individual(s) to whom it
is addressed.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

20 Oct 2005 - 12:49am
panu.korhonen a...
2004

The keyword "empathic" cought my eye in this posting. I just happened to have a book on my table:

"Empathic Design - User Experience in Product Design", ed by Koskinen, Battarbee and Mattelmäki, IT Press 2003

Just eyeballed it through, but it seems relevant for you.

Panu

>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
>Behalf Of ext Wilson, Russell
>Sent: 19 October, 2005 21:24
>To: Daphne Ogle
>Cc: discuss at ixda.org
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?
>
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant
>quoted material.]
>
>Great points Daphne - thanks.
>
>While we're on the subject - can you (or anyone else) suggest
>some reference material on ethnography and empathic research?
>Are there any specific key works for these topics?
>
>Thanks!
>Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
>512-334-3725
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Daphne Ogle [mailto:daphne at media.berkeley.edu]
>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 1:03 PM
>To: Wilson, Russell
>Cc: Ripul Kumar; discuss at ixda.org
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users' latent needs?
>
>Maybe I'm naive but the reason I got into this field almost a
>decade ago was to make people's lives better with technology
>(spurred by reading "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum"). I
>totally agree with Russell here. In my experience, users
>can't express what will really help them in them work. I
>shared this thread with a friend of mine in the field and he
>responded, "User's are perfectly capable of expressing their
>latent needs. They just can't do it verbally, that's why we
>do ethnography and empathic research!". I couldn't have said
>it better.
>
>This kind of research does take time and it's difficult to do
>it well but when done right, the payoff is well worth it. In
>my opinion it is the only way to create software that really
>meets users needs...without them creating a bunch of
>workarounds to get the software to do what they need.
>
>-Daphne
>
>Wilson, Russell wrote:
>
>>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>>material.]
>>
>>This is where I disagree.
>>
>>I would say that user's communicate what they want, but very often
>>don't know what they *need* (latent needs).
>>Sometimes wants and needs intersect, and of course, once a
>latent need
>>is discovered and presented to the user, it should become a "want".
>>
>>As a product designer, I am most interested in needs. Why?
>>Because I would argue that wants rarely lead to innovation.
>>I want to discover latent needs in order to innovate.
>>
>>In fact, I would argue that satisfying wants is most applicable to
>>projects / contracts / consulting work (i.e. meeting requirements).
>>But satisfying needs is important to product development where
>>innovation and staying ahead of the game are the goals.
>>
>>Hence my initial post regarding ways to get to those needs.
>>
>>Russell Wilson
>>Director of Product Design
>>NetQoS, Inc.
>>Tel: 512-422-4155
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
>>Ripul Kumar
>>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:29 AM
>>To: discuss at ixda.org
>>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Another way to uncover users'
>latent needs?
>>
>>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>>material.]
>>
>>
>>
>>>>Is anyone aware of research on training users to uncover and
>>>>communicate
>>>>
>>>>
>>their latent needs?
>>
>>Users do convey their need strongly, we as designers either fail to
>>decipher the communication or are not equipped to decipher it.
>>
>>I strongly believe that users need no training as users are always
>>correct - products fail to communicate and fail to show users how to
>>use them. To fulfill this Utopian philosophy, its a designer's job to
>>uncover users' needs, desires, and fantasies. There are many ways to
>>uncover these, some of them are:
>>1. Contextual Observation
>>2. Contextual Inquiry
>>3. Usability Testing
>>4. Mining data of customer support queries and resolutions 5.
>Questions
>
>>about the product on web-based forums and lists 6. Blogs about raves
>>and rants 7. Participatory design exercises (or co-creation) 8. Focus
>>Groups 9. Surveys
>>
>>There is no single technique that acts like a magic wand. Designers
>>must understand pros and cons of each technique and use the
>techniques
>>that are needed in the current context and with current constraints
>>(budget, time, access to users, internal resources, etc.).
>>
>>Having said this, there are only a few of us who are trained
>to conduct
>
>>successful contextual observation and inquiry sessions. Many
>of us rely
>
>>on initial usability testing for this data - a great
>technique to start
>
>>uncovering user needs. Each day I am learning more about how users
>>communicate with us...
>>
>>Cheers,
>>- Ripul
>>
>>--
>>Ripul Kumar
>>Director, User Research and Usability Consulting Kern Communications
>>Pvt. Ltd., India www.kern-comm.com
>>Tel: +91-40-55196854
>>Mob: +91-98-66342166
>>________________________________________________________________
>>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>(Un)Subscription Options
>>... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
>>http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>.......................
>>http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ...........
>http://resources.ixda.org
>
>>________________________________________________________________
>>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>(Un)Subscription Options
>>... http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
>>http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>>....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ...........
>>http://resources.ixda.org
>>
>>
>
>--
>Daphne Ogle
>User Interaction Designer, Learning Systems Group
>
>http://ets.berkeley.edu
>University of California, Berkeley
>Educational Technology Services
>117 Dwinelle Hall, #2535
>Berkeley, CA 94720
>
>Desk: 510-642-9159
>Mobile: 734-634-3612
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixda.org/
>Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

20 Oct 2005 - 5:35am
bruhns
2005

On 10/19/05, Doug Murray <MurrayDB at ldschurch.org> wrote:
> >>> "Joseph Juhnke" <jjuhnke at tanagram.com> 10/19/2005 8:40:36 AM >>>
> > "Why don't the observers become the customers?"
>
> Agile methods generally call for a customer/user voice on the development team.
> Often this falls short of ideal because the designated user loses touch with
> his/her former reality.

Exactly. I've discussed this with many XP practitioners and most of
them agrees that it is a weakness. However, they still like having a
user on their team, because it is a way them to get buy-in and put
responsibility on the customer organization for the decisions and
priorities that are made during development.

Most XP practitioners have agreed with me that this user cannot
necessarily express the latent needs and also (as have been observed
in participatory design projects) that the user eventually becomes an
"expert" in the new system that is being developed and thus is a bad
representative for his/her peers because he/she will "forget" the
issues that the peers are struggling with.

Jakob

20 Oct 2005 - 11:30am
John Schrag
2005

At 05:35 AM 10/20/2005, Jakob Bruhns wrote:
>On 10/19/05, Doug Murray <MurrayDB at ldschurch.org> wrote:
> > >>> "Joseph Juhnke" <jjuhnke at tanagram.com> 10/19/2005 8:40:36 AM >>>
> > > "Why don't the observers become the customers?"
> >
> > Agile methods generally call for a customer/user voice on the
> development team.
> > Often this falls short of ideal because the designated user loses touch
> with
> > his/her former reality.
>
>Exactly. I've discussed this with many XP practitioners and most of
>them agrees that it is a weakness. However, they still like having a
>user on their team, because it is a way them to get buy-in and put
>responsibility on the customer organization for the decisions and
>priorities that are made during development.
>
>Most XP practitioners have agreed with me that this user cannot
>necessarily express the latent needs...

At my company, we've taken the position that the role of "user" (as Agile
defines it) is actually best served by a usability practitioner. That is,
someone
who is qualified to do the contextual and ethnographic studies, to serve as
the user's representative, and who can differentiate between what the user
asks for and what they actually want and need.

Lynn Miller, the head of our usability/UI design group, spoke to this subject
at at Agile conference earlier this year. You can hear the discussion on this
podcast:

http://agiletoolkit.libsyn.com/media/agiletoolkit/UserDesignAgile2003.mp3

-john

----------------------------------------------------
John Schrag Alias
Interaction Designer 210 King Street East
jschrag at alias.com Toronto, Canada M5A 1J7

20 Oct 2005 - 12:26pm
Lyle Kantrovich
2005

On 10/19/05, Joseph Juhnke <jjuhnke at tanagram.com> wrote:
> After stumbling on my tongue for a bit I said the same thing you said
> that observers and participants had distinct perspectives. But then I
> got to thinking. What if one started as an observer and then became a
> participant? Wouldn't that produce an interesting level of awareness?

> Anyone done something like this? Good/Bad experiences?

You might research methods like cognitive walkthrough, pluralistic
walkthrough and role-playing. Self-reporting logs or photo diaries
are also related to this discussion.

Starter info can be found on these sites:

http://jthom.best.vwh.net/usability/ (under "inquiry")
http://jthom.best.vwh.net/usability/cognitiv.htm

http://sunrize.nada.kth.se/usor/jml.cgi/list.jml?graphics=true
http://www.ideo.com/case_studies/methoddeck/MethodDeck/index.html

Then there's always the Jet Blue CEO method:
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20040301/nbrodsky.html

Hope that helps.

--
Lyle

--------------------------
Lyle Kantrovich
Blog: Croc O' Lyle
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com

20 Oct 2005 - 10:36am
Desiree Sy
2005

John Schrag wrote:

>At my company, we've taken the position that the role of "user" (as Agile
>defines it)

That should read "'Customer' (as Agile defines it)."

(Just before this digresses to an unintended tangent.)

- Desiree

--
Desirée Sy Phone: 416-874-8296
Interaction Designer Email: dsy at alias.com
Alias Fax: 416-369-6150

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