Research and Design

There is something I don’t like about this UXbook.  And there was something in me, which prevented writing research article analysis.  Today’s talk is about it.  And it can be very abstract, which I don’t like. I feel sorry about you who read this.

The academic research and design is both intellectual creative process.  However they differ in the direction they pursue.  The academic research or scientific methods are essentially based on the replicability.  It means if some experiment shows some result, another one who does the same experiment should get same similar result.   So for example, if we conduct user research, and you conduct user research, you and I should make similar conclusion abou the user, for the users are same.  That’s where the assumption of the research lies.

However the design process is all about unique.  If two of the designer shows same design, you have fire one of them.  And it really matters who does it, than which methodology or process he/she uses.  Jonathan Ive is one of most famous designer.  If he designs computer, and I designs computer, it will be very different.  So it is this “Think different”, which is different from scientific method.

So why the designer conducts the user research?  He/she wants to understand the users, to create solution for the user.  Why the designer conducts usability testing?  To get feedback of his/her design to improve it.   The process of the writing persona and the process of the writing usability report is to get an insight.   That’s why hiring other’s to do the usability research or using persona made by other is not right use of the method.  User research and usability testing is not a goal but a tool.   Even if I make 100 persona, my design can still suck if I don’t have such creativity.

However there is some other professional who does the same thing like user research (or more generally market research) and usability testing.  Their goal is to assess the user and the product scientifically.  For these people the user research and usability testing is a goal.  And they usually present it with nice report or scientific paper, with chart and graph.

So what is the problem of the UXBook?  I think there is too less material about the creative design process (Or interaction design) and too much about the UX professional things.   This kind of the detail about the usability testing is just too much.  It is for the report for others, not the designer himself.   Even though there is nothing wrong with the making perfect report, it will take designer’s time and resource, and the perfect report will not help the designer for the designing of great product.  And that is the reason why I don’t feel natural about reading research article.

However after reading chapter 17, the author clear states that these report is for the internal use.  And if it should be for the other people than design team, it should be careful about it use.  Reading this, I began to think maybe I am focusing only on the small domain of the interaction design, where small design team completes the interaction design part and pass it to the dev team.  There maybe other domains, where the engineering part holds the key or it has a large organization where the role of the design is limited in to changing existing designs.   For example, if I am an interaction designer in Google, and if I would like to change the labels, which I think confusing, I can’t tell them change it.  I would have to gather evidence to support my claim like user testing of 100 people showing it is really confusing.   I am beginning to drop my prejudice and be open minded to accept the new learnings from the book.  It is quite refreshing how reading books broadens the understanding.

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3 thoughts on “Research and Design

  1. But… that’s why it is a UX Book – teaching all the parts of the user-centered design process. It is not an interaction design book! I do not understand the connection with RAAs, though.

    From my teacher’s perspective, I can tell you how I think about this class:

    – I want this class to provide an overview (a survey) of the entire UCD process. It is an intro to UCD for graduate students. I would like graduate students to be familiar enough with the parts of the process to know if they want to pursue it further, and what parts, if any, they would like to specialize it.

    – I focus on research and evaluation methods, because of 2 reasons: 1) students can employ these methods in other work and research projects; 2) they are easier to teach than creativity, which can only be coached in workshops.

    That being said, I do wish we had another course that would focus on the conceptual design part alone. I am experimenting with this at the undergraduate level, and I’ve been talking to another CGT professor about doing some of that in CGT 513, which will be offered next semester. There are some courses on interaction design in the art and design program, though in theory they are not limited to computer interfaces: http://www.interactiondesign.us/.

  2. I really enjoy this class. I am waiting eagerly for the Wednesday Madness. Your another course would be great. If it opens, I would like to join the class. If I am free, I will attend even undergraduate course. However my fellowship does not permit it.

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