Understanding Your Users

1st Edition

A Practical Guide to User Requirements Methods, Tools, and Techniques

Authors: Kathy Baxter Catherine Courage
Paperback ISBN: 9781558609358
eBook ISBN: 9780080520087
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 28th December 2004
Page Count: 704
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Table of Contents

Preface -How To Use This Book -Targeted Readers

  1. Introduction -User Centered Design
    -A Variety of Requirements -Getting Stakeholder Buy-In for Your Activity -The Methods

  2. Before You Choose an Activity: Learning About Your Product and Users -Learn About Your Product -Learn About Your User -Suggested Resources for Additional Reading -Putting It All Together -Case Study, Competitive Intelligence: Mining Design Concepts from Business School Libraries -Case Study, Personas: A Case Study by Microsoft Corporation

  3. Legal & Ethical Considerations -Ethical Considerations -Legal Considerations -Putting It All Together

  4. Setting Up Facilities for Your User Requirements Activity -Introduction -Using Your Company's Existing Facilities -Rent a Marketing or Hotel Facility -Building a Permanent Facility -Putting It All Together -Case Study, Designing an Innovative, Cost-Effective Usability Lab

  5. Preparing for Your User Requirements Activity Introduction -Creating a Proposal -Time of Day and Duration of Your Session -Recruiting Participants for Your Activity -Tracking Your Participants -Creating a Protocol -Pilot Your Activity -Putting It All Together -Case Study, Cultural Differences Affecting User Research Methods in China

  6. During Your User Requirements Activity -Welcoming Your Participants -Dealing With Late and Absent Participants -Warm-up Exercises -Inviting Observ


Today many companies are employing a user-centered design (UCD) process, but for most companies, usability begins and ends with the usability test. Although usability testing is a critical part of an effective user-centered life cycle, it is only one component of the UCD process. This book is focused on the requirements gathering stage, which often receives less attention than usability testing, but is equally as important. Understanding user requirements is critical to the development of a successful product.

Understanding Your Users is an easy to read, easy to implement, how-to guide on usability in the real world. It focuses on the "user requirements gathering" stage of product development and it provides a variety of techniques, many of which may be new to usability professionals. For each technique, readers will learn how to prepare for and conduct the activity, as well as analyze and present the data —all in a practical and hands-on way. In addition, each method presented provides different information about the user and their requirements (e.g., functional requirements, information architecture, task flows). The techniques can be used together to form a complete picture of the users’ requirements or they can be used separately to address specific product questions. These techniques have helped product teams understand the value of user requirements gathering by providing insight into how users work and what they need to be successful at their tasks. Case studies from industry-leading companies demonstrate each method in action. In addition, readers are provided with the foundation to conduct any usability activity (e.g., getting buy-in from management, legal and ethical considerations, setting up your facilities, recruiting, moderating activities) and to ensure the incorporation of the results into their products.

Key Features

·Covers all of the significant requirements gathering methods in a readable, practical way ·Presents the foundation readers need to prepare for any requirements gathering activity and ensure that the results are incorporated into their products ·Includes invaluable worksheet and template appendices ·Includes a case study for each method from industry leaders ·Written by experienced authors who teach conference courses on this subject to usability professionals and new product designers alike


Usability professionals / user interaction designers / new web application designers / product designers and their managers


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Morgan Kaufmann
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“I wish I’d had this book ten years ago; it would have saved me an awful lot of time. It’s the kind of eminently practical guide that I really appreciate, and the case studies are excellent. I highly recommend it!” — Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability “Courage and Baxter propel the reader to the beating heart of user-centered design with this comprehensive and practical compendium of process, methodology and cutting-edge thinking. The techniques they explain so clearly in this detailed and thorough book provide the power to expose the common myth, opinion, and misunderstanding and reveal the authentic nature of the true engine of wealth in the information age: Your users; the people who use your digital systems.” — Alan Cooper, Founder & Chairman of the Board, Cooper “Here’s a book that could easily become your best friend, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional. Courage and Baxter cover it all, from hard science to ethics to the finest practical details. You’ll find a wealth of case studies and instantly accessible answers to sudden questions—“My test subject just refused to be video taped. What do I do?”--along with many valuable techniques that will be new even to seasoned interaction designers and usability professionals, techniques that I began applying immediately in my own work.” — Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, Principal, Nielsen/Norman Group “Effectively gathering and applying user requirements is one of the most critical areas of focus in today’s companies. This invaluable resource provides comprehensive and practical guidance on a variety of methods – including strategies, tactics, tips, and templates--enabling readers to more efficiently apply techniques in their own organizations.” — Janice Rohn, Vic

About the Authors

Kathy Baxter Author

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

Principal User Researcher, Salesforce, CA

Catherine Courage Author

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 salesforce.com. 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

SVP Customer Experience, Docusign CA