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Observing the User Experience - 2nd Edition - ISBN: 9780123848697, 9780123848703

Observing the User Experience

2nd Edition

A Practitioner's Guide to User Research

Authors: Elizabeth Goodman Mike Kuniavsky
eBook ISBN: 9780123848703
Paperback ISBN: 9780123848697
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 1st 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

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




No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2012
1st September 2012
Morgan Kaufmann
eBook ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:

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


"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.", 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, and how they might use the things we build for them is the most important part of any product development cycle. Mike Kuniavsky's focus in this book is on the user experience as it relates to online interfaces, but ANYONE who builds ANYTHING can gain valuable knowledge from reading this book." --David Hoffer, Senior User Interface Designer, CTB/McGraw-Hill

"I love Observing the User Experience! This comprehensive guide approaches user experience research like never before, and is well-written, easy-to-read, and quite user friendly. It provides a real-world example of how research is done in just enough detail that it can both inform a CEO of the role of usability research as well as introduce methodology to someone starting out in the field. Bravo!"--Kelly Braun, Usability Manager, Ebay

"Mike Kuniavsky offers many practical procedures to conduct and analyze the results of your own custom usability tests. He shares lots of personal stories from the trenches, many of which are painfully ironic. The hope is that his knowledge will help spare you the pain of making the same mistakes others have made before you." --from the foreword by Lynda Weinman, Author and Founder,, Inc.

"Kuniavsky presents information logically, often anticipating potential questions by providing extensive explanations. His text is readable and easily understandable. He incorporates interesting quotes from various scholars, keeping readers' interest by breaking up the strict presentation of information. The overall layout and conversational tone make the text an enjoyable read and useful reference." --Kalle Medhurst - Technical Communications

"The best general how-to handbook on user research remains Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience. For the reader who wants to integrate contextual design into a fast-paced development cycle, but isn't sure how, this book will be a godsend. Even when their advice can't be followed to the letter, the book, like the authors method, can be adapted to your needs." --Networker Magazine

"Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research is a welcome addition to the half dozen essential books on my cubicle shelf. This book provides lucid, personable, experienced advice that could only come from a seasoned consultant who has seen the good, bad, and ugly of web and application design. Its purpose is to give a solid foundation to any design team in the crucial beginning stages of a project by answer the questions: How do we go about learning who our users are an what they really need? And how do we do this in a way that helps us make a strong case for our design decisions to the people in charge?" --Andrew Hinton

Ratings and Reviews