All Posts in research

September 20, 2017 - Comments Off on Open-Ended Questions

Open-Ended Questions

Word: Open-ended questions

Definition: An open-ended question does not have a right or wrong answer. It doesn't even have pre-determined ideas for what the answer might be. Such questions cannot be satisfied with a simple yes or no.

Thoughts: I know this seems like a simple word to define but it is so important to understand the art of question-asking when conducting user interviews. An open-ended question provides room for discoverability and this is where the heart of UX problem- solving lives! The more open-ended and vague your question is, the more room you give your user to dig deeply and thoughtfully. Don't be afraid of silence either. Users may shy away from open-ended questions by giving an insufficient answer. When this happens, let the silence linger, and the user will likely expound on her answer to fill the awkward moment. Once the silence is filled, you will be glad your question gave room for this opportunity.

September 14, 2017 - Comments Off on User Journey Map

User Journey Map

Word: User Journey Map

Definition: A map or diagram that illustrates the story of how a user experiences and interacts with a product or company. The story can be a small portion of the experience or an all-encompassing overview in order to provide insights into the user's thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

Thought: User journeys are helpful to many people within a company, but the key takeaways for UX practitioners include uncovering pain points, understanding the user's unique perspective, and providing insight into user's decision making.

There is no formula for a user journey map. They can take any format you like, so long as it is simple and readable. This could be a timeline, an infographic, or a storyboard - just to name a few.

Word of warning, user journeys should be created from research and gathered information from users. This is not a free-form art class. No one is interested in your thoughts or feelings here.

Below is an example of one that I did a while back for reference. Don't judge it too harshly.

Question: Are we at a point yet where this tool is universally accepted by teams outside of design or, are UXers still barring the heavy-lift in selling the importance of these documents to stakeholders?

September 12, 2017 - Comments Off on Paper Prototyping

Paper Prototyping

Word: Paper Prototyping

Definition: The technique of creating hand-drawn interfaces in order to quickly ideate, simulate, and test early design concepts.

Reference: It's literally as simple as a pencil and paper (and some multi-colored post-it notes if you're feeling very adventurous.) A paper is great for tight budgets, fast iterations, and easy documentation.

Some designers believe that paper is not a reliable testing tool and that users will not take the "arts and crafts" look seriously. I would argue that because there is nothing precious about a paper-prototype and users will be more open and inclined to offer true thoughts and opinions. Look for an example below by yours truly. 😉

Thoughts/Questions: Paper-prototyping is changing with the times and can now be incorporated into more robust applications, such as POP (an app that takes photos of drawings and allows you to link up hot spots to simulate physical clicking and tapping). Do you think prototyping tools like this, which are created to enhance the simplistic and raw experience of paper-prototyping, elevate the gritty research technique or does it adversely affect the underlying nature of it?

September 3, 2017 - Comments Off on F-Pattern


Word:  F-Pattern

Definition: The natural eye movement by Western societies when scanning content rich web pages. Most people will automatically scan the top of a page, then skim down the left-hand side and make a few occasional forays into the center.

Reference: The pattern appears during eye tracking sessions that use heat maps to track a user's gaze. This word is best described with a picture so here's one!

It is important to keep the F-Pattern in mind while laying out a page because this will ensure that the most important UI elements will easily and quickly be seen by your users.

August 23, 2017 - Comments Off on Predictive Persona

Predictive Persona

Word: Predictive Persona

Definition: A research tool that allows you to validate whether you can accurately identify somebody who will become a customer. These types of personas go beyond merely describing what a user is like, but also offer specific characteristics that will make a person become a new or a returning customer.

Reference: I first learned of this term from designer Laura Klein in her blog post for Invision. Klein wants to turn the traditional "describe your current user" persona model on its head by changing the way designers think about this portrait. She writes: 

"But the question they should be asking themselves isn’t, 'If I interviewed a user, would this describe her?' The question should be, 'If I found a person like this, would she become a user?'"

Thoughts: The key to predictive personas is to identify traits and feature that will make a person want to become a customer. Once the persona is created, then designers can recruit research participants that fit this description. If you have a hard time doing this, something is wrong with your persona! Eureka!

It is always refreshing to try out a new take on an old research technique, so let's get predicting!

August 23, 2017 - Comments Off on Stakeholder Interview

Stakeholder Interview

Word: Stakeholder Interview

Definition: A structured conversation between designers and important clients used to gather insights into a project and better understand the business goals and expectations.

Thoughts: Stakeholders can take the form of senior leadership with the financial stake and they can also be end users. Essentially, stakeholders are anyone who can affect the end product.

Clients or product owners do not always provide all the information a designer needs to fully understand a project. Enter, stakeholder interviews. These interviews provide a deeper understanding of your client's needs and they also give design teams early clues into where there might be conflict between business goals and user requirements.

Tips: It is best to go into a stakeholder meeting prepared. Have questions written down and remember to take notes! Keep it conversation but have a carefully planned agenda.