Life moves pretty fast. If you dont stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.

Monday – Content design workshop

I think I’m in love with a new profession. If I ever move on from user research then this is what I would love to do. Content design is so important to delivering a great service but so seldom acknowledged.

My small contribution was talking about how user research helps content designers and writers test what works with users, observing how people read, engage and understand content. I used recipes as my content example. That itch still needs scratching.

scenario of using a recipe

Brilliant start to the week.

Thursday – Practice research session

Practice makes perfect, they say. Well, maybe not perfect, but practicing user research sessions certainly makes for better researchers and better research findings.

I’ve always advocated for at least one full dress rehearsal of a research session before meeting your first user; it makes you more fluent with the discussion guide, refines timings, and double checks all the websites/materials work. Usually this work happens as part of the researcher preparing for the role, and seldom is it witnessed outside their close colleagues.

Today I ran a practice session for a discussion guide. I’d picked up the guide from someone else the day before and not had time to do much more than read it through. The website and materials were not finished until half an hour before the session. And it was to be done in front of all the stakeholders.

My nerves were jangling.

I’m completely on board with being open about practices, but there’s open and there’s open, isn’t there? As a researcher I know my trade and my skills, and I also know how much work goes on behind the scenes before anyone sees the results of my, or any other researcher’s, professional capabilities.

So, as I say, my nerves were jangling. And not everything went to plan. The practice user gave an unexpected reply and knocked me off script, the timing was out, and the tech didn’t behave as expected.

But it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Reflecting back on it now, my fears were just like those of a designer being asked to share their initial sketches. No-one wants to share their raw workings. We all want to polish before anyone can see because we fear that it will reflect on us.

But our work as researchers is to facilitate our team learning about users, to spot insights and bring them to light. Just like designers whose designs benefit from early feedback, our methods and our approach benefit from early review and collaborative reflection to improve our research sessions.

We learned a lot from the session. The discussion guide is being improved. The materials being improved. And that means when I get to roll it through a real user, the findings will be much improved.

Friday – NUX8

Huge kudos to the crew of NUX8.

I’ve skipped a couple due to work pressures, so this was the first time I’ve been for a while and the first time as a regular punter. It was brilliant!

To be fair, it deserves it’s own blog posts but for now here’s my highlights from the day:

  • Dan Saffer’s Ferris Beuller slide and using story sheets to stimulate design opportunities
  • Emma Boulton’s talk. All of it.
  • Vimla Appadoo’s “People are pissed off”.
  • Amy Hupe’s reminder that “every line of content is one more thing that your users have to do”
  • Giles Colborne’s reading list (read 2 of them, 2 now on order)

Sadly missed the final keynote by Indi Young as had to travel back to York but that’s another story. A Fake News one.

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