A week of meetings this week, including team leaders of some staff we’ll be researching with in the future.

Recruitment can be so time-consuming that it takes away from other work you really should be doing.
Fortunately these staff have been involved in research programs before and are happy to put themselves forward for some more.

However previous experience with research can be a bit of a double edged sword. It can set up expectations of methods and level of participation that a new researcher has to overcome. For example people who have previously participated in focus groups may feel under less of an obligation to attend a session because they expect to be only one of several. So when recruiting and scheduling people in for a one-to-one research session you need to make that very clear to reinforce their commitment to attend, or give good notice if they can’t.

Experienced focus group attendees can also have expectations of the session itself. They may expect to retell some stories of their behaviour or experiences, but nothing too intimate or personal as they will be in a group setting.
They may also expect to discuss their opinions of policy or of designs, or share ideas for what they might want in the future.

So as user experience researchers we have to set a different tone when they arrive for a research session. We let them know we will be observing behaviour and talking about their thoughts and understanding of whatever the behaviour is we are observing. We’re also interested in their emotional reactions, be they frustration or delight, but less so in their opinions of why something doesn’t work.

Leeds Gov Design meet up

I gave a talk on 3 digital note taking techniques that can help with collaborative analysis and audit trails. We also heard about the wonderful work the team at National Lottery Heritage Fund have done to transform their fund application process – content design starts with user research, and the NHS digital team have been doing with GP services – belt, braces and bullet proof vests.

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