Sprint Lead: Audra

Hello again from the UXMentor.me Project 2 team!

We’ve come to the end of another Sprint and it’s been a jam-packed one. First, thank you again to all of you who volunteered to be interviewed as part of this project. We cannot express how much we appreciate the generosity of this community. It’s been a pretty epic sprint and we built on what we learned in our last sprint.

“This sprint was smoother than the last. It was more clear what we planned to accomplish by the end. The four of us were definitely busy between this project and our day jobs, but we found a way to make it work.”

Xochitl

What were your goals for this week?

Sprint 2 Realtime Board

Each sprint  is going to have a series of different goals based on what we need to accomplish. This sprint we focused on executing our first round of discovery research.

  • Finishing up the discussion guide: The very first part of our sprint was dedicated to finishing up the discussion guide.  This was a little bit of spillover from the last sprint. This is the document that we are using in our user interviews. We wanted to get this nailed down before we started recruiting participants for the interviews.
  • Being flexible with our research methods:  We ended up switching out some of our research methods we had decided on last Sprint. We realize that doing a survey was not the best use of our time, as the UX mentor team had already done a survey recently around the topic of practical UX content. Therefore, we decided to focus on some  Research methods that would cover areas that had not been explored with previous research.
  • Desk research: The first part of our research plan focused on desk research. We were looking both into frequently asked questions within the UX community as well as looking at what could be called competitors to the product we might produce during this project. This helped us get a better idea of the existing landscape and gave us some direction to further refine our discussion guide.
  • Recruiting for user interviews: As I’m sure you all saw, a big part of what we did the Sprint focused on recruiting users for the user interview portion of our Discovery research. Again, thank you for your fantastic response. We ended up recruiting 10 participants for the interview process and they come from all over the world and from very different UX backgrounds.
  • Preparing to conduct user interviews: The other large part of what we were doing was finishing up preparations for the user interviews. We started interviewing participants on Wednesday the 13th of March and those will continue through this Sunday the 17th.

What was your approach?

Below are the research methods we decided to focus on for the Discovery phase of our research project.

Frequently Asked Questions Mining

Sprint 2 FAQ mining

We executed this method by going and mining questions asked by other UX professionals in both the UXMentor community as well as other outside UX communities. These included other Slack communities, Facebook, Quora, and other online forums. We split the different communities up among the team members and we each found a series of questions. It almost ended up being 130 + questions by the time the list was done being compiled. From there, we categorised the questions based on common themes.

Competitor Audit

The other form of desk research we pursued was a competitor audit. We wanted to get an idea of what educational resources already existed for UX professionals. Again, we compiled list of competitors including online courses, content offered by official UX organizations like the Nielson Norman group, government resources and so one.  We again split these competitors up among the different team members, we each compiled information on our selective competitors, and then we’ll be analyzing it to see where the gaps in knowledge and resources exist.

Affinity Diagramming

This is the method that we used to help us signs themes among the frequently asked questions and the competitors we looked at. For this, you take one idea or quote, write them down on Post-It notes, and then group the Post-it notes together by similarity. Once you’re done grouping, then you give each group you label.

Discovery User Interviews

This is the phase where we can do a deep dive with different community members into what their individual experiences are around trying to find resources as a new UX professional.  These interviews are better helping us understand not only what knowledge gaps exist, but how people go about finding information they need and puts a face to so many of these larger themes we’ve explored.

What challenges did you face?

Sprint 2 Trello board
  • Finding times when we could meet: We are all scattered across four different time zones. Finding times when we could all call hop on the phone has been a bit of a challenge but we’ve used Doodle Polls to help us do to group calls.
  • Splitting up the work: We are all doing this work around our full-time jobs and life. Therefore, we needed to find a way to split up the research work so it was a manageable amount for all the team members and could still be of good quality.
  • Making sure all the work got executed on time: As a previous point stated, we needed to find the time and our lives to execute the research. Sometimes it’s meant learning to ask for help or being flexible with deadlines.
  • Recruiting research participants who fit the criteria: We had a fantastic response from the community when we put out the recruiting call. We were looking for a very specific subsection of the UX community. Part of the recruiting process is making sure that all potential participants matched the eligibility criteria that we developed.
  • Keeping interviews to a set time: It was the first time for many of us doing any type of user interview. Therefore, it took a little while to learn how to keep the interview discussions within the hour limit that we had set. It was a delicate balance between being open and friendly while still directing the conversation to get the insights that we are after.

“I had never done an interview, at the beginning I was nervous and the first interview I did lasted longer than I expected, but I came to the project to learn, the group and the mentors taught me how to solve this issue and now I am able to control the times.”

Laura

What did you learn?

Through dealing with these challenges, we certainly learned a few lessons.

  • Plan early and re-adjust as needed: Real life can often pop in when you are doing a volunteer research project. It’s best if you can plan your research timeline out early so you can re-adjust due dates and resource allocations when something comes up.

“I thought this Sprint was great! The kick-off catch up call at the start of the sprint was very useful. We improved how we use the Trello board which gave us set days when things were due.”

Ina
  • Where many of the gaps in knowledge exists around the practical application of UX theory: We have found knowledge gaps in surprising areas such as “how do I recruit users for my research” to “how do I sell the value of UX in my organisation”.
  • Be open to other points of view: You need to be open to points of view that are not your own, be they from your research participants or your team mates.
  • How to conduct user research while respecting privacy: With the new GDPR regulations in place and a growing concern over how data is used, our participants privacy was top priority. We needed to find a way to conduct the interviews and collect our insights in a way that ensured the safety of participant information.
  • How to be friendly and empathetic when conducting user research while keeping the conversation moving along: The participants you talk to during the interviews are the experts. We learned not to assume we knew what someone needed or what the solution was before we had talked to people. Also, there were some lessons around being conversational to keep things moving along.

Are there any tips you would like to share?

UX research is a marathon instead of a sprint when you are doing a long project like this. It’s worth it to pause and celebrate the small wins when you can. For example, when we completed our first interview or wrapped up participant recruiting.

Tune in two weeks from now to hear more in this ongoing journey.