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History of User Experience/User Research

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UserResearch By Arthur Hayden


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A history of User Experience and the research behind it EBSCO Information Services – July 2015 My name is Arthur Hayden. I am an intern for the User Research group at EBSCO Information Services in Ipswich, MA. To gain a better understanding of our department and the field of user experience design as a whole, I have created this presentation. Thank you to the rest of the User Research team for giving me this opportunity.


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Definitions Definitions of some of the key terms and phrases pertaining to User Research History Techniques Leaders Conclusion A breakdown of major historical events and developments for our field Details about some of the most common techniques used in User Research Bios and assorted wisdom from a few of today’s top User Research minds Takeaways from the presentation, acknowledgements, Q&A


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Definitions Key terms and phrases UX Design The process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. User Experience (UX) All aspects of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole. Usability User Research (UR) Any number of investigative techniques used to add context and insight to the design process. The term User Testing is also often used as these techniques are used on “finished” products. The effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments. Simplified by Jakob Nielsen: “How easy and pleasant [the product] is to use.”


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History of User Experience/Research UX through the ages Circa 1430 – Da Vinci’s Kitchen Nightmare In an early example of UX design, Leonardo created working conveyor belts, a giant oven, and a primitive sprinkler system for a feast hosted by the Duke of Milan. All of these innovations failed, but only because of poor execution: a good lesson! Early to Mid 1900s – Efficiency in Engineering Mechanical engineers such as Fredrick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford created a framework for the relationship between workers and their tools: early examples of documented research on the relationship between users and their tools/products.


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1955 – Dreyfuss Designing for People Henry Dreyfuss, an industrial designer, authors Designing for People, elaborating on some of the key principles of usability for consumer products. 1966 – Disney Designs for Happiness Walt Disney emphasizes the use of the latest technologies to improve people’s lives, inspiring many user experience designers today. Design for utility AND joy!


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1995 – The First UX Professional 2007 – The Birth of the iPhone Don Norman, of the Nielsen Norman Group, joined Apple in 1995 as a “User Experience Architect”, taking the place of what many consider to be the first dedicated UX position. Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone, which proves far easier and more fun to use than any other cellphone on the market at the time. Apple’s success through superior user experience instantly made UX (and, therefore, user research) more important for tech companies. 2015 – Responsive Web Design As smartphones become even more influential in our lives, tech products and websites are facing the challenge of transitioning to mobile devices. Google and other tech giants have all emphasized the growing importance of RWD.


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Common User Research Techniques Different ways we collect data Non-Directed Interviews Researchers set up some rough guidelines and converse with their audience, generally letting the audience control the conversation. Questionnaires Researchers invite people to say who they are, what they do, and where they go. Generally speaking, this is the easiest method of gathering raw data. Contextual Inquiry Researchers observe what people do as they go about their day, utilizing the product. This strategy focuses on users’ actual activities to get as accurate data as possible from users. Card Sorting This is a reliable, inexpensive method for finding patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Works by forcing participants to classify things on the fly.


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Thought Leaders What the best, contemporary UX minds are saying Jakob Nielsen Janice Fraser Richard Anderson HCI specialist: cofounder of NNG; extensive experience with pioneer tech companies; godfather of usability Interaction designer and experienced startup consultant; cofounder of Adaptive Path; CEO of LUXr Longtime UX consultant; started the Experience Center at Viant; worked for the UX department of Yahoo! The field of User Experience/Design is a vast and expanded landscape and it would be impossible to summarize all contemporary developments and schools of thought through three individuals; however, these three User Experience professionals have very different backgrounds and present three unique perspectives into the most important features of User Experience and where they believe User Research is headed.


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Jakob Nielsen Human-Computer Interaction Specialist, Michael Jordan of tech usability User Research and Usability Design are Essential With the number of websites increasing at an exponential rate, those that do not meet basic usability standards will lose customers to competitors. Additionally, intranets with poor usability significantly hinder employee productivity. Prioritize Testing Over Surveying While it is easier – and oftentimes very useful – to simply ask users questions about your products, this is no substitute for watching what users actually do with the product. What users say can be misleading, even if they firmly believe in what they tell you. Simple observation eliminates bias. Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience “Users spend most of their time on other websites.” Users form their expectations for your site/product based on what’s commonly done elsewhere. If you deviate from that norm, the innovation must offer significant improvement or users will leave.


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Janice Fraser Interaction designer, start-up wizard Two Types of Research Methods Fraser breaks down the types of user research methods into two groups. She also talks about the plethora of new tools available for product testing such as Usertesting.com. More participants Creates Empathy Produces qualitative data Generative Testing Analytically focused Generate new ideas Few, long conversations Quantitative data


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Richard Anderson User Experience Expert, Organizational Strategy Consultant, has exactly one usable headshot on the internet Anderson has 20+ years of experience working with different companies to move user experience into a position of greater influence. He has written and published numerous articles and teachers numerous courses across the country. A few of the key arguments that he makes on User Experience: Should we call it User Research? Is Usability outdated? Design-led vs. Research-led The term can imply that our department only does research with users when in reailty we also study people who are not yet users of EBSCO products. Anderson argues that this phrase can prevent UX teams from being involved early in the design process. Yahoo! merged their UX research group and the market research group to form the Customer Insights department. Some UX experts believe that modern computing is minimizing the importance of usability studies. Anderson argues that more emphasis should be placed on ”social user research” which relies on huge amounts of what he calls ”casual data” from Twitter, Facebook, etc... Anderson talks about UX researchers in two different categories: those who design with people and those who design for people. He doesn’t say that one mindset is necessarily better than the other, only that transitioning between the two entails major cultural change for the company.


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Conclusion What have we learned Definitions • • • User Research in Action Usability Testing of Fruit UX encompasses everything User Research investigates UX Usability is a part of UX Techniques History • • • • • UX is still relatively new Lessons from Da Vinci Apple was important • Interviews & questionnaires are easy Contextual inquiry generally provides deeper insight Growing number of testing resources Thought Leaders • • • Nielsen: Use usability! Fraser: Generative vs. Testing Anderson: Culture matters


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THANK YOU!


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