Generative Research

Sometimes it isn't enough to ask what people want.  To understand how someone works, or how they make a decision, you have to dig deep.  Find a way to let them communicate their unconscious thoughts and impulses.  Watch them work to see all the intracacies that they're not even aware of.  Our goal is to understand them so well that we can predict their future behaviors. We do this with:

  • Observational research: working side-by-side with them, observing a day in the life.  Participating in what they're doing. Observe them and catalog what is difficult and interesting about the environment they work in and what drives them.
  • Participatory design: Users, design thy solution! By giving a design toolkit to your users, they can express what they need through the solutions that they design and build for you. If you can understand why they build what they build, you can ensure that your solutions meets those needs.
  • Interviews and surveys: Sometimes this is still the best way to reach your audience, especially if you require less detailed knowledge about a large number of people.  A well-written survey or interview script can make the difference between finding that nugget of truth and getting back garbage.

User Testing

After you've done your initial research and designed some things that you think will work, it's time to test them out! This is how we do it.

  • Usability testing: After we've prototyped something, or if we want to understand how the competition stacks up, we go out and test it.  We walk people through our product, and have them attempt tasks with the system.  This is used to understand which pieces of the application are understood, and which are obstacles to those people completing their tasks.  We specialize in guerrilla testing, in which we take the whole usability apparatus (that is, a laptop with special software and a camera) wherever we need to test.  We also have experience with bigger tests, in which a fixed facility is desired.
  • Simulation: If we're redesigning a process or system, we will create simulations where people attempt to use the new process or system to attempt what we've determined to be normal and difficult tasks. In this way, we can safely test out new procedures and work models for areas like healthcare and aviation. These can be as simple as role play, and as sophisticated as a full-scale, real-life situation.