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Overcoming User Research Fatigue and Maintaining Your Sanity

I love conducting user research. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. However, I admit there are times when it can try your patience. As a researcher you often conduct the same sessions, asking the same questions, observing the same tasks, and often hearing similar answers – over and over and over again. So it’s inevitable that at times in your career you can suffer from user research fatigue.

In my latest UXmatters article, Retaining Your Sanity as a User Researcher, I provide tips for avoiding user research fatigue and maintaining your sanity, including:

  • Don’t schedule more participants than you need
  • Don’t schedule too many sessions per day
  • Take breaks between sessions
  • Get away from the research at the end of each day
  • Break up large-scale research
  • If you don’t have enough time, adjust your effort
  • Ensure your job provides enough variety
  • Continue to learn
  • Indulge your outside interests
  • Remember you’re making the world a better place

 

So check out the article, Retaining Your Sanity as a User Researcher, or to read more about user research fatigue, check out my article, Overcoming That Dreaded Malady: User Research Fatigue.

 

“Generic Sign Project – Fatigue” by Kevin H. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Scary User Research!

The Scream by Edvard Munch

What’s so scary about user research? A lot, if you’re a semi-neurotic researcher. Since it’s the Halloween season, in my latest UXmatters article, I delve into some of the scariest aspects of user research, including:

  • What if I fail?
  • Can I learn something new?
  • What if we recruit really bad participants?
  • What if the research plan doesn’t work?
  • What if there’s not enough time to get through everything?
  • What if something goes wrong?
  • What if we don’t discover anything important?
  • How am I going to analyze all this data?
  • How can I present all of this?

But never fear! I also provide advice about how to overcome these fears. Check it out: Fears About User Research.

Some Really Bad Ideas for User Research

I’ve heard a lot of bad ideas for user research over the years. Most of these have come from people trying to get around the time, cost, and effort of user research. I write about these in my latest UXmatters article, The Worst Ideas I’ve Heard for User Research. I discuss:

  • Management trying to offshore UX work
  • Management thinking that anyone off the street could moderate a usability test
  • Using your own employees as research participants, because you can’t get the actual users
  • Clients wanting to conceal their identities to participants
  • Making research sessions too formal and uncomfortable by reading the opening instructions off a card
  • A field study participant deciding to move the session to a conference room
  • A participant changing an individual session into a group session with coworkers
  • Teams thinking that they can save time by skipping the research report

Luckily all these bad ideas failed, but we can learn from them. Check out more in the article at UXmatters.

“innovatiebroedplaats” by verbeeldingskr8 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

User Research When You’re Sick: The Show Must Go On

Various cold medicine bottles

It happens to every user researcher at some point. You’re supposed to conduct user research sessions, and you get sick. Sometimes you know in advance. Other times it happens during the sessions. Either way, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.

So much goes into planning, recruiting, and scheduling user research sessions that by the time they’re set, they must happen. And usually the only person who knows enough to conduct the research is the researcher him or herself. So, often there’s nothing else to do but suck it up and conduct the research while sick.

However, there are things that you can do to prepare for the chance that you’ll be sick, and there are ways to minimize the effects. In my latest UXmatters article, The Show Must Go On, I provide advice about how to prepare for the eventuality of being sick, to avoid getting sick, and how to conduct research when you are sick.

Read: The Show Must Go On

“Relief is on the way” by kylestern is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

What is Observation?

Observing a man doing work on several large monitors

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

Difficult Usability Testing Participants

Usability testing session

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.

Paper Prototyping: Is it still worth it?

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