Thursday, May 17, 2012

User Research n00b

The purpose of this blog is simply to share my experiences as I attempt to break into a new field.  What is that field?  User Experience Research!  What IS User Experience (UX)?  Well, according to Wikipedia...
UX is the way a person feels about using a productsystem or service. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership, but it also includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature, because it is about an individual’s feelings and thoughts about the system.
So then, what does a User Experience Researcher (also known as a User Researcher) do?  According to this UX Career Guide...  
User Researchers provide a deep understanding and insight of user behavior, needs and motivations.  They offer feedback in all phases of the design process from project conception, to implementation, to development.  They conduct user and task analyses to identify opportunities to improve user experience.  And, they synthesize research findings into meaningful recommendations and actionable results.
And why the heck do I want to do it?!  I guess that brings us to a little bit about me.  My background is in jury research/consulting.  And that's a whole other crazy field that you probably have not heard of.  Remember the movie "Runaway Jury"?  Well that's basically my job minus the explosions, stalking, and killing.  My current job and skills are totally applicable to User Research, I swear!  In jury research, we do surveys, focus groups, interviews, synthesize data, etc.  I also have a background in Psychology (a Masters in Social Psychology) so I'm down with qualitative and quantitative research methods.  I just need to learn the lingo, methods specific to the field, and theories surrounding User Research.  But, at the end of the day research is research and I do know research.  I want to get into User Research for the following reasons:

  • I love technology!  
  • I like studying people and the stuff they do and what they're thinking. 
  • I think it's awesome that by researching how people interact with tech, I can actually help to improve product design. 
  • I want free lunch (read: I want free tech company lunch). 
I hope that this blog may eventually serve as a sort of "how-to."  I'll talk about what I'm doing to teach myself about the field, what I'm learning, and how I'm going about gaining experience.  Someday I'd like to be able to point to this blog and say "that's how I did it."  If anyone stumbles upon this blog, please feel free to comment with advice, suggestions, or questions!  

Until then, creating this blog is a first step and before I could even do that, I had to come up with the blog's name.  I turned to CleverBot: 

User: What should I name my blog?
Cleverbot: Go for it bot.
User: It's about User Research.
Cleverbot: I don't like being sad any more.
User: I'm sorry Cleverbot, but I really need help.
Cleverbot: But why?
User: I don't know what to name my blog, which will be about me learning about user research.
Cleverbot: What you are saying to me, is not what other machines are saying to me.
User: What do you think I should name my blog, though?
Cleverbot: I think your name should be rogaine.
User: I think that is unrelated to the blog subject.
Cleverbot: Yes.
User: And it also might be somewhat proprietary.
Cleverbot: I think it's true, although quite strange...
User: Do you think 'User Research Newb' is a good name?
Cleverbot: No.
User: What about 'UXR Newb'?
Cleverbot: What about it?
User: Is that a good name for my blog?
Cleverbot: Good.
User: Ok, can you think of anything better? Don't say 'Rogaine'!
Cleverbot: No, I can't.
User: Blog name.
Cleverbot: Game apa.
User: Blog name.
Cleverbot: Game apa.
User: Blog name.
Cleverbot: Sama lah.
User: User research.
Cleverbot: Excuse me?
User: User research blog name.
Cleverbot: Why do you have to know?
User: User research blog name.
Cleverbot: What's that?
User: This is're not that helpful.
Cleverbot: What is that supposed to mean?
User: Is there a better, smarter, bot than you?
Cleverbot: No I am the smartest person in this Worl.
User: Okay. Goodbye Cleverbot.
Cleverbot: You can not leave me I got control of you.
User: That's creepy.
Cleverbot: So's your face.
User: Good one.
Cleverbot: I thought so too.

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