Tag Archives: practice

From Research To Design

(If you’ve come to this from Twitter, I’m just testing my new Twitter WP plugin with this article)

Shortly after I wrote up some thoughts on test-driven UX, I happened to notice “Bridging User Research into Design” over on UX Matters.

In the article, 11 of the great and the good offer their thoughts on essentially the same thing as I was thinking about in my post: how to use research to create something you think is better than if you hadn’t done any.

The opinions offered are mostly about qualitative research, whereas I was focussing on quantitative in the form of multi-variate testing. However, I was surprised that the role of hypothesis was given very little consideration. In fact almost all seemed to ignore it altogether.
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In Praise of Assumptions

Whether or not you think that “user-centred design” is generally a good way of  designing a web site, most would agree that before doing any real design work, you first need to listen. Ideally, you should listen to the people who will be using your site. At the very least, you should listen to some or other form of research that can give you ideas about suitable design directions to follow. When it comes to design, selflessness is the goal. Alan Cooper has based a large part his career on this idea. Love you, Alan.

The trouble is, it’s practically impossible to keep your own opinion out of the picture when coming up with solutions to design problems.  No matter how much research you do, personas you create, or lab sessions you run, research alone cannot tell you exactly what to do in terms of the detail of the design itself. So the practical effect of research is to lead you make assumptions. Of course, the hope is that these assumptions are correct. On the other hand, some people  make a virtue of  not trying to listen too much, and instead relying mainly on their personal opinions to produce good designs. Apple, 37Signals and I’m sure various others, are among these. What they do is simply bring assumptions out into the open.

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