Ideally, academic research should inform workplace practices and workplace practices should inform academic research and education. However, as many researchers have noted, a gap often exists between academia and industry. This article begins to bridge that gap by reporting the results of a small-scale study at Microsoft in which 12 individuals were interviewed about their views on usability education and research. This study addressed two questions: (1) What knowledge, skills, and abilities should technical communication teachers stress in teaching usability and (2) how can academic research in usability benefit practitioners? The results indicate that usability education needs to be expanded to include additional usability evaluation methods and that students need strong critical assessment and communication skills when they enter the workplace. The results also reveal that usability research in the areas of return-on-investment, online help, and cognition would be of great use to practitioners.
What is the biggest problem I face almost every time a client hires me to do something about a web project going awry? They don't know a thing about their users. They don't have a clue, whatsoever. Unbelievable but true!
We know that we should do user research for projects. All the user-centred design material says so, we talk about it at conferences, we put it in proposals. We just know that it is a good thing to do. But when I talk to people about their actual projects, I find that very few people actually do user research. There are many many reasons (no time, no money, already know what users need etc etc etc). I think that part of the reason it doesn’t happen is also that we don’t have good tools to tell us just how much research to do, and even when it isn’t necessary at all to do research.
There is a necessary connection between theory and practice. But there is also a difference between the two. And that difference, as van de Snepscheut said, is larger in practice than it is in theory.
Planning is crucial if you want your user research efforts to be effective. You need to think about what information you need to gather, and why, before embarking on any research. Good planning, well communicated to the client or project, and followed by careful implementation will ensure your research is effective.
The Research and Technology stem offers 47 sessions in the areas of usability, online documentation, hypertext and multimedia, the Internet, advancing technology, and academic research--including a few miscellaneous topics. As much as possible, the sessions in each area have been scheduled in different time slots.
To be effective, there are certain personal characteristics a user researcher should have. Whether you are a dedicated user researcher, a student who is considering a career path in user research, a UX designer or software engineer who sometimes gets called upon to do user research, or a stakeholder looking for research support, this column will help you to understand the personal characteristics that really make a difference to a user researcher’s success.
Many people enjoy behavioural research, whether it's running a usability test, fielding a survey or observing people doing their jobs. Finding things out and making new discoveries excites our natural human curiosity. But when faced with the task of analysing the data behind the research, many people feel their excitement drain away. So how can you overcome a fear of maths to learn how to use statistics?
Although lack of time and money for travel have always been barriers to conducting in-person user research, the current recession and concerns about global warming and wasted resources have pressured businesses to cut back on business travel and conduct more business remotely. Should user research be any different?
In its second year the Theory and Research stem has grown in scope and subject matter. We welcome a myriad of Usability sessions into this stem - new this year! We think you’ll find a natural link between the latest research, new theory, and their application with a focus on the user. Research and its implementation are essential to improving our methods, tools, and response to users’ needs. From planning, to prototyping, to collaborative design, to usability testing, through production, you’ll find topics to pique your interest. This stem provides a forum for discussing fresh ideas and new results, assessing trends, and evaluating research that confirms or revises the way we work.
This article provides a table with summary statistics for the thirteen usability laboratories described in the papers in this special issue. It also gives an introduction to the main uses of usability laboratories in usability engineering and surveys some of the issues related to practical use of user testing and CAUSE tools for computer-aided usability engineering.
In the course of our work, we’ve met very few user researchers who have had the formal training in research we’ve had. We’ve met qualified and experienced researchers with backgrounds in fine art, finance, human-computer interaction, communication, political science, and many other fields. All of these researchers were able to do their jobs effectively, but our training has provided us with resources they were unable leverage in the same way. Therefore, this month, we’ll discuss some of the strengths we’ve gained from our education in two areas: research and human factors.
There is no shortage of methods for gathering user data that can generate all sorts of qualitative and quantitative insight throughout the product development lifecycle. However, many of the available techniques were designed by market research firms and may not be optimal for product managers. This is especially true in the context of demand validation, which my colleague Steve Cohn of Validately defines as the bridge between the “problem space” and the “solution space.” Simply put, it is the process of going from 0 to 1—beginning with nothing and then identifying and crafting a solution for which there is at least a single user. It is not about scale or about market size, nor is it primarily about gauging user experience or profitability for a completed product, which is the purview of most market research firms.