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Exploring User Research Myths & Legends
UXify 2017: April 7, 2017
Jim Ross
We live in a fortunate time in User Experience. Never before have so many people become aware of user experience and the importance of understanding users. Yet, how to gain this understanding of users is still shrouded in myths and legends. In this presentation, we explore the territory of user research to better understand the myths and legends that surround it, with the goal of bringing to light the truth about how to use research to understand users.

Capturing Data During User Research
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2015: October 27, 2015
Jim Ross, panel participant
Facilitating a user research session can be a juggling act involving many competing considerations, even without the added pressure of accurately capturing the experience for later analysis. In this panel, we will talk about how to balance capturing user research data in a way that minimizes the burden on the researcher, which minimizes the amount of work that needs to be done later in analysis, and is unobtrusive enough that it does not add to the unnaturalness and discomfort of the participants.

Paper Prototyping Workshop
UXify Bulgaria 2015: June 20, 2015
Jim Ross
In this workshop, we discussed how to create various types of paper prototypes, including how to simulate interactions. We also discussed how to conduct usability testing with paper prototypes. Workshop participants created their own paper prototypes and tested them with other workshop attendees. The workshop participants gained a practical understanding of how to create paper prototypes, when to use them, and how to test them with users.

User Research in the Wild
UXify Bulgaria 2015: June 19, 2015
Jim Ross
The key to designing an excellent user experience is to understand the users and their needs. Despite what you may think you know about your users, the only way to truly understand them is to go out into the field and observe them in the wild – talking with them and observing them in their natural habitat. Seeing their environment, the tools they use, the tasks they perform, the people they interact with, and the problems they face gives you insight into how your product or application should be designed to meet their needs.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them. If You Can’t Join Them Spy on Them. Exploring Alternative Research Methods.
World IA Day 2014: March 22, 2014
Jim Ross
To design a great user experience, we conduct user research to understand our users, their tasks, their tools, and their environment. We normally do this by going out “into the field” to interview and observe people as they perform their typical tasks. Our research is overt (the participants know that they are being observed) and non-participant (we remain outside the activity, not participating). But what if we observed people without their knowledge, or what if we joined a group and participated in their activities to get a first-hand sense of their experience? Maybe that sounds a little crazy, but those are widely-practiced methods in anthropology. We’ve adopted overt, non-participant research from anthropology. What if we adopted covert and participant observation as well?

Covert Naturalistic Observation
Design Philadelphia: The Bleeding Edge of Design Research: October 16, 2013
Jim Ross
How can we observe natural behavior if our mere presence affects what people do? Don’t tell them that you’re observing them. Being covert means observing behaviors in their natural contexts without any intervention or influence by the researcher and without participants knowing that they’re being observed.

UXPA 2013: July 10, 2013
Jim Ross
Communicating user research findings effectively so that people can understand them, believe them, and know how to act on the recommendations can be challenging. You may feel that you’ve delivered a successful presentation, but later you find that the recommendations aren’t acted upon. Ideally, our clients are as interested in our user research findings and recommendations as we are and find them valuable, but without the proper understanding, clients can express a variety of negative reactions. This presentation will discuss best practices in communicating user research findings to avoid these problems and to lead to better outcomes.

User Research is Unnatural (But That’s Okay) – podcast audio
IA Summit 2012: March 24, 2012
Jim Ross
From the perspective of a participant, user research is not very natural. We ask participants to try to act naturally in the artificial environment of a lab, or we impose ourselves on their environment and hope our presence doesn’t affect their behavior. We often forget how unnatural user research can be and the negative effects it can have on participants.

Recruiting Better User Research Participants
UPA 2011: Usability Professionals Association Conference – June 23, 2011
Jim Ross
Recruiting ideal participants is the foundation of effective user research. Learn to write a better screener, avoid professional participants, minimize no-shows, recruit for unmoderated studies, and much more. These tips will be valuable to novice and experienced researchers as a refresher on a process that is often taken for granted.

Practical Eyetracking (PDF)
UPA 2008: Usability Professionals Association Conference – June 20, 2008
Jim Ross and Paul Nuschke
Eyetracking technology has become more affordable and easier to use, and the results certainly seem impressive, but when does it add value to testing? Based on studies of Websites and applications, this presentation will address when it makes sense to use eyetracking and how to interpret the results.

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