Observing the User Experience

Observing the User Experience

A Practitioner's Guide to User Research

2nd Edition - September 1, 2012

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  • Authors: Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123848703
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123848697

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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

  • Biographies


    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


    Chapter 11. Usability Tests

    When to Test

    How to Do It

    How to Analyze Usability Tests

    Anatomy of a Usability Test Report

    Appendix B


    Chapter 12. Surveys

    When to Conduct Surveys

    How to Field a Survey

    How to Analyze Survey Responses

    Follow-up and Ongoing Research

    Chapter 13. Global and Cross-Cultural Research

    What Is Global and What Is Cross-Cultural?

    Research Planning

    Multilingual Research


    Field Interviews and Observation

    Global and Cross-Cultural Surveys

    The Elephant in the Room

    Tactical Challenges for Implementing Research Plans

    Analyzing the Data

    Course Corrections

    Building Your Global Research Program

    Chapter 14. Others’ Hard Work: Published Information and Consultants

    Published Information

    Hiring Specialists

    Chapter 15. Analyzing Qualitative Data

    This Is Not a Fishing Trip

    An Ideal Process for Qualitative Analysis

    Coding with Paper


    Mixing Digital and Paper Coding

    Typical Analysis Plans


    Chapter 16. Automatically Gathered Information: Usage Data and Customer Feedback

    Usage Data

    Customer Feedback

    Explore the Data, Then Go Observe!

    PART III: Communicating Results

    Chapter 17. Research into Action: Representing Insights as Deliverables

    Choosing the Right Deliverables

    Representing People: Personas

    Representing Situations: Scenarios

    Representing Activities and Processes

    Representing Systems: Experience Models

    Putting It All Together

    A Final Warning

    Chapter 18. Reports, Presentations, and Workshops

    Informal Reporting

    Preparing and Presenting Formal Reports

    The Presentation

    The Workshop

    Extending the Reach of Research


    Chapter 19. Creating a User-Centered Corporate Culture

    Work with the Current Process

    What If It’s Just Too Difficult?

    Following and Leading



Product details

  • No. of pages: 608
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 2012
  • Published: September 1, 2012
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123848703
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123848697

About the Authors

Elizabeth Goodman

Elizabeth Goodman has taught user experience research and tangible interaction design at the University of California, Berkeley and site-specific art practice at the San Francisco Art Institute. She has also worked with exploratory research and design teams at Intel, Fuji-Xerox, and Yahoo and speaks widely on the design of mobile and pervasive computing systems at conferences, schools, and businesses. She received her PhD from the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley in fall 2013. During graduate school, her scholarly research on interaction design practice was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and an Intel PhD Fellowship

Affiliations and Expertise

Design researcher and UX strategist at 18F, a design group within the General Services Administration.

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

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