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Book Summary: Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design

It´s a short and good book on research. Erika Hall describes her experiences and shows research methods. When done well it should reduce costs by removing the unknowns and create a solid foundation. With the most effective way. It includes how to motivate your research, how to conduct it and work within a team (everyone should do it, get everyone involved). How to conduct research in different work environments.

This time I will try to pick more quotes from the book and only present them. This might show what I though was most interesting reading the book.

Erika first describes what research is. And whats the difference between academic and applied research.

“Applied research borrows ideas and techniques from pure research to serve a specific real-world goal, such as creating a supersoldier or improving the quality of hospital care or finding new ways to market pork-flavored soda.”

“Applied research is not science”

“Avoid arguments about statistical significance; you will not win. Instead, keep the focus on gathering useful insights.”

This is a book for designers that want to use research methods to better serve peoples needs. And not waste time creating things that are not needed.

“Research is a set of tools. We want to make sure we can find the right one fast, but we aren’t too concerned with the philosophy of how the toolbox is organized.”

Then we have different stage of reserach. Generative or exploratory, descriptive and explanatory, evaluative, and casual research.

There are some advice to integrate research in a agile environment.

“In other words, focus only on the essential user types, deal with your data as soon as you get it, involve your team in the analysis, and do the less important stuff later.”

Even though you are not conducting scientific research. The book contains examples of biases that are common that you should know.

Then the book goes into detail about the process of research. And starts with the planning.

“Just as you need a clearly articulated problem to create a solid design solution, a useful research study depends on a clear problem statement. In design, you’re solving for user needs and business goals. In research, you’re solving for a lack of information. A research problem statement describes your topic and your goal.”

It then continues with different research types, organisational, user, competitive, evaluative, analysis and models, and quantitve.

On research at startups or more nimble companies with the fail fast mantra.

“Alternatively, to support “not failing at all, if we can avoid it,” identify the assumptions that pose the greatest risk and suggest activities to address those assumptions.”

Then there are info about interviewing stakeholders etc.

“You definitely want to make sure that your expectations match. Make sure that it’s OK to follow up if you need more information or clarification.”

User research:

“As a designer, you have an enormous, exciting responsibility. You define the human world, one object or system at a time. Every delightful and every frustrating artifact that exists, exists because of a series of design decisions.”

The chapter contains different user research methods like interview, ethnography, contextual inquiry. AND NO TO FOCUS GROUPS.

Competitve research:

“You need to know not only who your competitors are from the perspective of the business (that’s generally obvious) but who competes for attention in the minds of your target users.”

Evaluative research:

“Evaluation is assessing the merit of your design. It’s the research you never stop doing.”

This can be with heuristic analysis or usability testing. And there are quite a lot of methods to conduct usability testing. But:

“Don’t use expensive testing—costly in money or time—to find out things you can find out with cheap tests.”

The last but one chapter are about analysis and models.

“And this is where design truly starts. You take all this messy data and begin to organize it, and group it, and label the groupings.”

The last chapter are describing quantitative research and what it can achieve and when it should be useful. Quantitative data is great when used correct.

So the book is great. A definitive recommendation to all that wants to conduct design. It shows practical and great methods to conduct that should product results. And Erika describes them well to understand. Its a stark contrast between this book and the books I read while studying. That I would not recommend to fellow designers that want to conduct research for the real world and not for science. This seems enough. Though if you get interested in these kinds of methods. There are a lot more on these subjects that you should read.

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