Observing the User Experience

2nd Edition

A Practitioner's Guide to User Research

Authors: Elizabeth Goodman Mike Kuniavsky Andrea Moed
Paperback ISBN: 9780123848697
eBook ISBN: 9780123848703
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 7th September 2012
Page Count: 608
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Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research aims to bridge the gap between what digital companies think they know about their users and the actual user experience. Individuals engaged in digital product and service development often fail to conduct user research. The book presents concepts and techniques to provide an understanding of how people experience products and services. The techniques are drawn from the worlds of human-computer interaction, marketing, and social sciences.

The book is organized into three parts. Part I discusses the benefits of end-user research and the ways it fits into the development of useful, desirable, and successful products. Part II presents techniques for understanding people’s needs, desires, and abilities. Part III explains the communication and application of research results. It suggests ways to sell companies and explains how user-centered design can make companies more efficient and profitable. This book is meant for people involved with their products’ user experience, including program managers, designers, marketing managers, information architects, programmers, consultants, and investors.

Key Features

  • Explains how to create usable products that are still original, creative, and unique
  • A valuable resource for designers, developers, project managers - anyone in a position where their work comes in direct contact with the end user
  • Provides a real-world perspective on research and provides advice about how user research can be done cheaply, quickly and how results can be presented persuasively
  • Gives readers the tools and confidence to perform user research on their own designs and tune their software user experience to the unique needs of their product and its users


HCI practitioners, usability engineers, software developers, Web page designers and developers

Table of Contents



PART I: Why Research Is Good and How It Fits into Product Development

Chapter 1. Introduction

Learning from LEGO

In Conclusion

Chapter 2. Do a Usability Test Now!

A Nano-usability Test

A Micro-usability Test

What Did You Learn?

What to Do Next

Chapter 3. Balancing Needs through Iterative Development

Success for End Users Is…

Success for the Company Is…

Success for Advertisers Is…

A System of Balance: Iterative Development

Where User Research Fits In

Example: A Scheduling Service

PART II: User Experience Research Techniques

Chapter 4. Research Planning

Setting Goals for Research

Integrating Research and Action

The Format of the Plan


Example: Research Plan for Company X


Chapter 5. Competitive Research

When Competitive Research Is Effective

Competitive Research Methods

Analyzing Competitive Research

Example: A Quick Evaluation of Match.com

Acting on Competitive Research

Chapter 6. Universal Tools: Recruiting and Interviewing



Chapter 7. Focus Groups

When Focus Groups Are Appropriate

How to Conduct Focus Groups

Chapter 8. More Than Words: Object-Based Techniques

When to Use Them

Dialogic Techniques

Writing the Script

Generative Techniques: Making Things

Associative Techniques: Card Sorting

Chapter 9. Field Visits: Learning from Observation

What Are Field Visits?

How Are Field Visits Used?

The Field Visit Process

Note Taking

Why Can’t You Just Ask People?


Chapter 10. Diary Studies

When to Do a Diary Study

How to Do a Diary Study



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© Morgan Kaufmann 2013
Morgan Kaufmann
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About the Author

Elizabeth Goodman

Elizabeth Goodman is a PhD candidate at the UC Berkeley's School of Information. Her writing, design and research focus on interaction design for mobile and ubiquitous computing. She has also been a part of exploratory research teams at Intel, Fuji-Xerox, and Yahoo!. Elizabeth has a masters degree in interaction design fromNew York University, and is a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and an Intel PhD Fellow.

Affiliations and Expertise

PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley's School of Information, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, and Intel PhD Fellow

Mike Kuniavsky

Mike Kuniavsky is a user experience designer, researcher and author. A twenty-year veteran of digital product development, Mike is a consultant and the co-founder of several user experience centered companies: ThingM manufactures products for ubiquitous computing and the Internet of Things; Adaptive Path is a well-known design consultancy. He is also the founder and organizer of Sketching in Hardware, an annual summit on the future of tools for digital product user experience design for leading technology developers, designers and educators. Mike frequently writes and speaks on digital product and service design, and works with product development groups in both large companies and startups. His most recent book is Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design.

Affiliations and Expertise

Founder, ThingM

Andrea Moed

Andrea Moed believes that research is essential in designing to support human relationships. She has been a design researcher and strategist for over 15 years, observing users of websites, phones and other mobile devices, museums, retail environments and educational and business software. She is currently the Staff User Researcher at Inflection, a technology company working to democratize access to public records. Andrea has master’s degrees from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University and the UC Berkeley School of Information, and has taught at the Parsons School of Design in New York. Her writing on design and technology has appeared in a variety of publications.

Affiliations and Expertise

Staff User Researcher at Inflection


"In this second edition, the authors update an important contribution to the emerging discipline of user experience (UX) research…This book is one of many noteworthy titles from Morgan Kaufmann in this subject area. It is chock full of practical examples and advice for both novice and experienced practitioners." --ComputingReviews.com, January 2013

"Anyone even remotely interested in involving participants and observing their reaction and interaction with the product in order to enhance the overall user acceptance should deeply benefit from this book. I very much liked the practical examples, tables, and diagrams which have given this book a more vibrant feel and allowed the reader to feel like he can use this textbook directly in the practice of establishing some user experience tests. I think the textbook is profoundly informational and was a joy to read." --Software Engineering News, March 2012

"You'll like Mike Kuniavsky's broad selection of practical user research methods--presented clearly and usably. And you'll like his timing too: while recent books focus on the whys of user experience, many are now ready for the hows. Observing the User Experience does just that: It demonstrates how to discover what is in users' heads, and suggests how we might balance those considerations with business objectives." --Lou Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Wow! So many of the user experience research methods we have refined and used over the years are now organized and described in detail in one book. It is an essential reference for any practitioner." --Christian Rohrer, Manager, User Experience Research, Yahoo!

"Observing the User Experience provides the reader with a wealth of information. We now have a guideline that can be used to gain insight into those mysterious figures...our users. Knowing who our users are, what they need, an