Summary: Focus groups are innapropriate as a research technique to gather usability or user experience requirements. This is due to the fact they are opinion driven and not behavior driven. As a research tool they have a place in market research or early on "market idea" testing. As a way to influence usability or user experience projects, they are useless and misleading. To fix focus groups, they should be either: a) Abandoned in favor of ethnographic field studies or, b) Blended with behavioral research aka user interviews and observations to provide richer insights.
By Admin User
Ethnography is a technique developed largely by anthropologist Margaret Mead. It involves behavioral observation, contextual interviewing and analysis of users in their work, home or play spaces. The key strength to ethnography is context. Context provides insight into not only who users are (demographics) but what is important to them and what causes them to act and make decisions (psychographics).
Ethnography goes by a few different names. The most common include: Contextual Interviewing, Field Studies and Task Analysis. My personal contribution to the field, called "Cognitive Archeology"(PDF) involves an analysis of user behavior and environment with an emphasis on understanding decision-making, problem-solving and the interaction of tasks, values and beliefs.
By Frank Spillers
Summary: Most persona development efforts are self-sabotaging because of one reason: a lack of good user research. The good news is this can be quickly turned around with an incredible impact on your software project and your overall organization's return on investment. This article explores why and how you can salvage your personas once and for all.
Personas as Garbage, but why?
Many organizations use personas. Personas are the fun customer sketches that software development teams use to prioritize user needs. However most persona efforts are junk, owing to the origins of data used to inspire personas. We know several product managers who don't "believe" in personas.
By Admin User
Summary: User Research is best performed early on and instead of simply validating your requirements, can help shape them.
Clarification: By user research we will discuss Field Studies, not user testing (also referred to as user research). While we're on terminology, Field Studies are also referred to as Ethnography or Ethnographic Field Studies.
Knowing what to do with your user research opportunity is important. The field study is a critical component of UX Design. It is often left out of most people's mental model (conceptions) about UX Design. User experience has two faces: Usability (ease of use) and Desirability (needs and wants). User research can help surface patterns, triggers, motivations and new innovations.
Let's explore how, when and why to make the most of User Research through common misconceptions.
Common misconceptions about User Research