Four years ago, in 2017, I published an article in UXmatters giving advice about how to handle ten types of difficult usability testing participants, Wrangling Difficult Usability Testing Participants. The ten types of difficult participants were:
- Bad Fits to the User Profile
- Untalkative Participants
- Overly Talkative Participants
- Participants Who Ramble Off Topic
- Inarticulate Participants
- Participants Who Struggle to Think Aloud
- Participants Who Have No Opinions
- Uncritical Participants
- Participants Who Blame Themselves
- Uncooperative Participants
Four years later, I felt I had encountered enough new types of participants to write a part two, Wrangling Difficult Usability Testing Participants, Part 2. These include:
- Happy Clickers
- Talkers, Not Doers
- Givers of Facts, Not Opinions
- Representatives of the Business
- Participants Who Take Prototypes Too Literally
- Professional Research Participants
- Uncomfortable, Nervous Participants
- Participants Who Are Too Relaxed
Of course, most participants are just regular people who are trying to do their best in the unusual situation of participating in a usability test. It’s up to you as the researcher to help them understand what you need them to do.
Image by Rinaldo Wurglitsch under Creative Commons License
Having conducted several international UX research studies over the past few years, I decided to write a series of articles providing advice on how to conduct international UX research. The basics are the same as conducting research in your own country, but the international aspect presents some challenges.
In Part One, I discuss how to determine whether you should conduct the sessions yourself or whether you should hire a local moderator. That decision comes down to whether you speak the participants’ language, whether you’ll have participants in the session who speak more than one language, whether the country’s culture is very different from yours, your research goals, and your budget. I also provide advice on how to determine whether to conduct the research in-person or remotely. Finally, I give tips on hiring a local moderator and translator.
Check it out on UXmatters: Advice for Conducting International UX Research, Part 1.
In Part Two, I discuss recruiting participants for international UX research, how you can prepare your local moderators to conduct the research, what your local moderators should do to prepare for the research sessions, how to oversee and observe the sessions, and what information your local moderators should provide once the sessions are complete.
Check it out on UXmatters: Advice for Conducting International UX Research, Part 2.
“Language Variety” by nofrills is licensed under CC BY 2.0
With COVID, we’ve all had to move all of our UX research to remote UX research. Remote UX research methods have improved greatly over the past ten years to the point where they have many advantages over in-person research. However, there are still some disadvantages of remote UX research.
In the past, we had the luxury of choosing to do in-person research when it made the most sense or remote research when that made the most sense. Since we no longer have a choice, we’ve had to be creative in overcoming the limitations of remote UX research.
In my latest two-part article on UX matters, I discuss the many advantages of remote UX research and how to best overcome the disadvantages of remote UX research. Check these out on UXmatters:
Remote UX Research: Advantages and Disadvantages, Part 1
Remote UX Research: Advantages and Disadvantages, Part 2
“Houston, we have a problem – Fishing boat; Marsaxlokk Harbour” by foxypar4 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
With everything going on now with COVID-19, remote user research is the only type of research we’ll be able to safely do for the near future. In-person research, in which you need to sit close enough to interview a participant and observe what they’re doing, doesn’t really work with social distancing. At the same time, some people have questioned whether it makes sense to continue performing user research during such unusual times. Aren’t participants going to act differently, won’t that affect the results, and should we ask them to participate in user research at a time like this?
In my latest article on UXmatters, Remote User Research: The Time is Now, I discuss how to adapt to conducting all of your user research remotely and discuss whether it makes sense to continue conducting user research during this unusual time in our history.
“Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sheffield, UK” by Tim Dennell is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Scoping a project’s user-research phase is a classic Catch-22 situation. Before the project begins, you have to plan the user research activities and the time involved, but you rarely have enough information to make these decisions until after the project begins. In my latest article on UXmatters, I discuss some of the problems you may encounter when trying to scope user research, and I provide advice about how to make scoping more accurate.
Check it out: Scoping User Research
In user research, we primarily do two things – observe people and ask questions. Ideally, we want to observe people’s natural behavior, without having our presence influence what they do.
Observation sounds deceptively simple. You sit and watch what people do. It seems like anyone can do that. But to get the most value out of observation, there’s more to it than passively looking and listening.
In my latest UXmatters article, I examine what observation involves, the different types of observation methods, and explore a more rarely used method in UX research – naturalistic observation. The Role of Observation in User Research
Image courtesy of: You Belong in Longmont
As UX researchers, we tend to focus more time on explaining our findings than in providing our recommendations. Yet, however well we explain the findings and recommendations, there comes a time when we’re not present, and the people who have to implement the recommended changes have to rely on the written recommendations and what they remember from your explanation. So it’s very important to ensure that your UX recommendations are understandable, concise, specific, believable, authoritative, actionable, feasible, flexible, prioritized, and easy to review. I provide advice on how to provide better recommendations in my latest article on UXmatters:
Providing Better UX Recommendations
Any user research is better than doing no user research, right? If you can’t reach your target users, you can do research with your company’s employees, because they’re kind of similar right? If you can’t visit people in person to see them perform their tasks, maybe you can do phone interviews or send out a survey. That’s better than nothing, right?
The truth is that it’s sometimes better not to do any user research than to do half-assed user research. I’m not saying that you always have to the perfect user research conditions or its not worth doing. In reality, we rarely have all the time we need and the perfect circumstances to conduct extensive user research. So it’s understandable that we sometimes have to cut corners and make do with what we’re able to get. However, there’s a fine line between discount user research and half-assed user research.
The danger is when you always cut corners, you can become an enabler. Your shortcuts become the norm, allowing your company to check off the user research checkbox, allowing them to say, “Yes, we do user research.” If you can’t eventually convince them to devote more time and effort to user research, sometimes it’s better to practice tough love and let them fail by not doing any user research, rather than allowing them to rely on poor quality research.
In my latest UXmatters article, I provide advice about how to know when you’re practicing half-assed user research and how to improve. Check it out: Avoiding Half-Assed User Research
Image by Spider.Dog
A key skill you need for usability testing is the ability to work well with a variety of different types of people. You meet all kinds of people as usability testing participants. Over time, you get used to adjusting your approach to different personalities and characteristics. Most people are easy to deal with. However, some people present challenges.
In my latest UXmatters article, “Wrangling Difficult Usability Testing Participants,” I discuss ten types of challenging participants and how to best adjust your interaction with them to get the best testing experience.
In my latest UXmatters article, I compare the latest prototyping tools to paper prototyping. Paper has long had the advantage in allowing designers to quickly and easily create early prototypes, that look unfinished, and encourage users to honestly provide criticism. However, the latest prototyping tools have caught up to, and in some cases surpassed, paper in making it very easy and quick to create prototypes without any coding.
So, do the advantages of paper prototypes still beat these new prototyping tools? That’s what I explore in my latest article, Prototyping: Paper Versus Digital.
Image credit: Samuel Mann