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Understanding Your Users - 2nd Edition - ISBN: 9780128002322, 9780128006092

Understanding Your Users

2nd Edition

A Practical Guide to User Research Methods

Authors: Kathy Baxter Catherine Courage Kelly Caine
eBook ISBN: 9780128006092
Paperback ISBN: 9780128002322
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 20th May 2015
Page Count: 568
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Table of Contents

  • In Praise of Understanding Your Users, Second Edition
  • Preface
    • What Is New in This Edition: Ten Years of Progress
    • How to Use This Book
    • Targeted Readers
  • About the Authors
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part 1: What You Need to Know Before Choosing an Activity
    • Chapter 1: Introduction to User Experience
      • What Is User Experience?
      • User-Centered Design
      • A Variety of Requirements
      • Getting Stakeholder Buy-In for Your Activity
      • What Is Next?
    • Chapter 2: Before You Choose an Activity: Learning About Your Product Users
      • Introduction
      • Existing Research
      • Learn About Your Product
      • Learn About Your Users
      • Special Populations
      • Pulling It All Together
    • Chapter 3: Ethical and Legal Considerations
      • Introduction
      • Policies vs. Laws vs. Ethics
      • Ethical Considerations
      • Legal Considerations
      • Pulling It All Together
    • Chapter 4: Setting Up Research Facilities
      • Introduction
      • Using Your Company’s Existing Facilities
      • Renting a Marketing or Hotel Facility
      • Building a Permanent Facility
      • Pulling It All Together
    • Chapter 5: Choosing a User Experience Research Activity
      • Introduction
      • What It Takes to Choose a Method
      • The Methods
      • Differences Among the Methods
      • Choosing the Right Method
  • Part 2: Get up and Running
    • Chapter 6: Preparing for Your User Research Activity
      • Introduction
      • Creating a Proposal
      • Deciding the Duration and Timing of Your Session
      • Recruiting Participants
      • Tracking Participants
      • Creating a Protocol
      • Piloting Your Activity
      • Pulling It All Together
    • Chapter 7: During Your User Research Activity
      • Introduction
      • Inviting Observers
      • Welcoming Your Participants
      • Moderating Your Activity
      • Recording and Notetaking
      • Dealing with Late and Absent Participants
      • Dealing with Awkward Situations
      • Concluding Your Activity
      • Pulling It All Together
  • Part 3: The Methods
    • Chapter 8: Diary Studies
      • Introduction
      • Things to Be Aware of When Conducting Diary Studies
      • Diary Study Formats to Choose from
      • Sampling Frequency
      • Preparing to Conduct a Diary Study
      • Conducting a Diary Study
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
      • The DIN Method
      • Procedure
      • Findings
      • Lessons Learned
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 9: Interviews
      • Introduction
      • Preparing to Conduct an Interview
      • Conducting an Interview
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
      • Interview Tips
    • Chapter 10: Surveys
      • Introduction
      • When Should You Use a Survey?
      • Things to Be Aware of When Using a Survey
      • Creating and Distributing Your Survey
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
      • Sampling and Invitation
      • Questionnaire Instrument
      • Applications and Insights
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 11: Card Sorting
      • Introduction
      • Things to Be Aware of When Conducting a Card Sort
      • Preparing to Conduct a Card Sort
      • Conducting a Card Sort
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
      • Appendix
    • Chapter 12: Focus Groups
      • Introduction
      • Preparing to Conduct a Focus Group
      • Conducting a Focus Group
      • Modifications
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Lessons Learned
      • Pulling It All Together
      • Background
      • Initial Planning
      • Participant Recruiting
      • Discussion Guide Development
      • Housekeeping
      • Incorporating UX into the Focus Group
      • Logistics
      • Analysis and Report
      • Key Takeaways When Running Focus Groups
      • Recruiting and Logistics
      • Facilitation
      • Analysis and Reporting
      • General
    • Chapter 13: Field Studies
      • Introduction
      • Things to Be Aware of When Conducting Field Research
      • Field Study Methods
      • Preparing for a Field Study
      • Conducting a Field Study
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Lessons Learned
      • Pulling It All Together
      • Research Objectives and Methodology
      • How AnswerLab Met the Research Objectives
      • What Worked Well
      • Challenges and Strategies
      • How the Research Was Used for Decision Making
      • Lessons Learned
      • In Summary
    • Chapter 14: Evaluation Methods
      • Introduction
      • Things to Be Aware of When Conducting Evaluations
      • Evaluation Methods to Choose From
      • Data Analysis and Interpretation
      • Communicating the Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
  • Part 4: Wrapping up
    • Chapter 15: Concluding Final
      • Introduction
      • Prioritization of Findings
      • Presenting Your Findings
      • Reporting Your Findings
      • Ensuring the Incorporation of Your Findings
      • Pulling It All Together
  • Appendix A: Requirements for Creating a Participant Recruitment Database
    • Develop a Questionnaire for Potential Participants
    • Distribute Your Questionnaire
    • Technical Requirements for a Participant Database
  • Appendix B: Report Template
    • Card Sort
    • Executive Summary
    • Background
    • Method
    • Materials
    • Results
    • Travel Card Sort Table of Recommendations
    • Conclusion
    • Appendix B1
    • Appendix B2
    • Appendix B3
    • Appendix B4
  • Appendix C: Glossary
  • Appendix D: References
  • Index


This new and completely updated edition is a comprehensive, easy-to-read, "how-to" guide on user research methods. You'll learn about many distinct user research methods and also pre- and post-method considerations such as recruiting, facilitating activities or moderating, negotiating with product developments teams/customers, and getting your results incorporated into the product. For each method, you'll understand how to prepare for and conduct the activity, as well as analyze and present the data - all in a practical and hands-on way.

Each method presented provides different information about the users and their requirements (e.g., functional requirements, information architecture). The techniques can be used together to form a complete picture of the users' needs or they can be used separately throughout the product development lifecycle to address specific product questions. These techniques have helped product teams understand the value of user experience research by providing insight into how users behave and what they need to be successful. You will find brand new case studies from leaders in industry and academia that demonstrate each method in action.

This book has something to offer whether you are new to user experience or a seasoned UX professional. After reading this book, you'll be able to choose the right user research method for your research question and conduct a user research study. Then, you will be able to apply your findings to your own products.

Key Features

  • Completely new and revised edition includes 30+% new content!
  • Discover the foundation you need to prepare for any user research activity and ensure that the results are incorporated into your products
  • Includes all new case studies for each method from leaders in industry and academia


UX professionals and students


No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2015
20th May 2015
Morgan Kaufmann
eBook ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:


"The first edition became my ‘go-to’ book for mastering user requirements gathering. Ten years later, this second edition is even better. Don’t leave your office without it!" --Joe Dumas, Editor in Chief, Journal of Usability Studies

"Do you believe in driving while blindfolded?  That's what you're doing if you design and market a technological product without studying your target users and tasks.  This book is a comprehensive handbook on the "why" and "how" of user research, illustrated with vivid real-world examples.  Don't drive your design project while blindfolded.  Get this book, read it, and follow its prescriptions.  It will repay its cost many times over." --Jeff Johnson, author of GUI Bloopers 2.0 and Designing with the Mind in Mind

"Very authoritative, this work combines the experience of senior practitioners and an academic, with lots of specific guidelines, tips and examples, and with pointers to other readings for deeper insights.  Useful for students and practitioners alike, this should be on everyone's bookshelf.  The authors do a great job of explaining the importance of business-side stakeholders (C-suite, marketing, sales, development) and how to speak their language." --James D. Foley, Professor, College of Computing, Stephen Fleming Chair in Telecommunications, Georgia Institute of Technology

"Understanding Your Users is a thorough guide to user experience for designers both technical and non-technical. Instructors, students and practitioners will find this book very useful to your success as an user experience expert." --Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair, Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department, University of Florida

"Understanding Your Users is handbook of practical wisdom for the serious human centered design practitioner. This second edition includes updated content around emerging best practices. It is a must have in any design team’s library." --Janaki Kumar, Head of Strategic Design Services, America, Design and Co-Innovation Center, SAP Labs Palo Alto

"With the massive expansion of digital products, new processes for faster development cycles, and competition that can appear out of nowhere in days, the product design has become the major differentiator, and key to success. Understanding your end user is more important than it ever has been, how they really work, and how your assumptions match up to their reality. This book takes tried and true methodology and shows how any or all of it can be applied to your products now." --Jeremy Ashley, VP, Oracle Cloud UX

"A great introductory book for anyone wishing to understand and engage in traditional user research methods.  The language is clear and straightforward, allowing the reader to try and use the methods on their own project.  Each method is accompanied with an extensive bibliography allowing the curious mind to further delve into any of the described methods.  Samples of forms, letters and examples enhance the practical nature of the book, making this title a staple for the beginning practitioner." --Joseph Kramer is a Service Design Lead at Fjord - Design and Innovation from Accenture Interactive

"The difference between product success and failure often comes down to the user experience. Baxter, Courage, and Cain share the methods you need to better understand your users so that you can design delightful experiences." --Craig Villamor, Chief Design Architect at

Ratings and Reviews

About the Authors

Kathy Baxter

Kathy Baxter

Kathy Baxter is a Principal User Researcher at Salesforce. Her research focus has spanned web search, privacy, advertising, enterprise applications, mobile, and more. Previously, Kathy managed the UX Infrastructure team, which supports research globally across Google including research ethics, participant recruitment, research labs, and the development of research tools. Prior to Google, she worked as a Senior Researcher at eBay and Oracle. She received her Bachelors of Science in Applied Psychology and Masters of Science in Engineering Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Affiliations and Expertise

Architect, Ethical AI Practice, Salesforce, CA

Catherine Courage

Catherine Courage is SVP Customer Experience at Docusign. Her team is focused on driving design thought leadership and execution throughout the company in order to deliver a seamless experience across all products and services. Prior to joining Citrix, Catherine was the Director of User Experience at She also worked at Oracle as a Principal Usability Engineer and manager of the Customer Design Partners Program. In 2011, she was selected by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of Silicon Valley’s "40 Under 40" young tech leaders. She holds a Masters of Applied Sciences specializing in Human Factors from the University of Toronto.

Affiliations and Expertise

VP, Ads & Commerce User Experience, Google

Kelly Caine

Kelly Caine

Kelly Caine is the director of the Humans and Technology Lab at Clemson University, where she leads research in human factors, human-centered computing, privacy, usable security, health informatics and human-computer interaction. She is a thought-leader who has been invited to speak around the world, has published dozens peer-reviewed papers and is regularly cited by media such as the AP, Washington Post, NPR, and New York Times. Kelly enjoys teaching students to become scientists, and has designed and taught courses on research methods for understanding people and their relationship with technology at universities and in industry. Prior to joining Clemson, she was Principal Research Scientist in the School of Computing at Indiana University and a UX researcher at Google (where she and Kathy first met!). She holds degrees from the University of South Carolina (B.A.) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (M.S. and Ph.D.).

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Professor, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA