User needs assessment

Game-like Elicitation Methods (GEMS) for user research

So the brilliant Rashmi Sinha of Uzanto has launched MindCanvas, a new user research tool that uses game-like activities instead of traditional surveys to gather user research data. This is combined with expert data analysis from Uzanto (which will limit scalability of the service, but provide significant insights well beyond an automated collection of graphs).

I've been thinking about design games from a business stakeholder perspective for the past year or so, and it's interesting to see Rashmi's take on design games for participatory design with users.

Congrats to the Uzanto team for shipping, best of luck!

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Site

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites by Alison J. Head [via InfoDesign (Peter J. Bogaards)], a good article on personas, showing more than telling, with good example personas and a brief case study using BBCi.

Includes pointers, necessary details, and a tutorial featuring a well-explained example.

Kuniavsky in the house

Adaptive Path's Mike Kuniavsky has started a blog over at Orange Cone, and that reminded me of all the links I've been saving up about his new book Observing the User Experience.

OntoLog: ontology based video/audio annotation

OntoLog is a tool for annotating (describing and indexing) video and audio using ontologies - structured sets of terms or concepts. It used RDF and the Dublin Core. This is a PH. D. project by Jon Heggland. He is looking for testers and users.

For OntoLog and my doctoral degree to be a success, I need the ideas, requirements, critique and feedback of (potential) OntoLog users. OntoLog, though usable and useful, is not finished - there are lots of things I want to do. But I want to anchor the capabilities of OntoLog in the real world

Obvious applications in looking at video/audio from ethnographic observation, contextual interviews, or usability testing.

(thanks Catalogablog)

Design Research: Why you need it.

From the latest Cooper Newsletter: Steve Calde has a good summary of the necessity of design research from a business perspective. Not a lot new here, but a nice way of putting things for those who need to convince clients, managers, or others of the value of design research. thanks Ben

Peterme: Casting your User Research

Peter Merholz discusses having the appropriate cast of users for research.

There's an old adage that 90 percent of filmmaking is in the casting. Throughout the process of making a movie, doing the work up-front to get the right performers pays off and ultimately leads to a superior result.

We've found this adage also proves true when we're conducting user research, because the quality of the results comes from selecting the right users at the project's outset.

So true - sometimes we're so adamant about practicing user centred design methods that we get just anyone involved, instead of truly representative users, just so we can say we did user research or usability testing. Or maybe you're in a situation like this: yesterday someone suggested I use people from the project team. And that can be worse than no users at all.

There's also a lot of other interesting articles on the UIE conference site.

Selling Information Architecture The Right Way

In A User-Centered Approach to Selling Information Architecture, over at Digital-Web, Jeff Lash gives a great article on not only the selling of IA, but in effect putting the goals and needs of the client first.

The Critique of Everyday Things

Adam takes a scenario inspired look at a new Krazy-Glue as Band-Aid product - an interesting application of daily IA tools to an everyday thing.

Tips for contextual interviews from Adaptive Path

Mike Kuniavsky offers practical advice on running a "nondirected interview" in his latest: Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview.

Is Customer Always Right?

Just stumbled on this Fast Company article "Desire: Connecting With What Customer Want." Some of it sounds very familiar from one of Lou's presentation at least year's summit and little bit of Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. From a marketing standpoint it makes sense, but user researchers out there should still take a look because it could possibly be just as valid for your line of work as well. The article is based on a book by Melinda Davis _Culture of Desire_ (2002).

Information Needs Analysis

Lou talks about selecting IA components to fulfill information needs.

    Each user has a different type of information need depending on what he's trying to find and why he's trying to find it. If we can determine the most common information needs a site's users have, we can select the few best architectural components to address those information needs.
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