Demonstration Exercise 3: Needfinding!
To gain practice with fundamental needfinding techniques, you will conduct a needfinding experiment for a participant performing a non-programming related task. You will design a needfinding experiment based on interviews, execute the experiment, synthesize the results, and then identify potential needs based on your interview.
- Identify an object or action to study. Choose an object or action that we might try to improve using human-centered design. There are no constraints on what you study other than it must not be related to programming. In other words, this your chance to analyzed something not related to the major themes of the course!
- Design your needfinding experiment. We have identified two classes of techniques: observation and interviews. For this deliverable, you will design a needfinding experiment based on interviews as a complement to our in-class activity on observations. Define what you will do to conduct your interview. For example, you may choose to:
- Interview a particular representative user, e.g., a beginner, a lead user (a excited user of the product), or a expert user.
- Observe a user using the object and interview them after-the-fact about the experience.
- Integrate observation and interview together, a variant of contextual inquiry.
- Identify a subject. Find a subject and get their explicit consent to participate in the study.
- Design a script for your study. Rather than attempting to develop questions on the fly, you should come prepared to the study with a set of questions to ask your interviewee. Reflect on what questions you have about the object and action and what would be appropriate to ask given the kind of user your are interviewing. Review the “How to Conduct User Interviews” article on the Interaction Design website on how to conduct a successful interview.
- How To Conduct User Interviews When designing interview questions:
- Avoid leading questions that presuppose an answer. Leave questions open-ended to allow for a variety of unbiased responses.
- Avoid questions that ask the user to design a solution. Instead design questions to hone in on a user’s needs, desires, and current practices.
- Avoid making questions too abstract and confusing by posing hypothetical scenarios or asking questions that ask the user to quantify abstract amounts. Try to make situations as concrete as possible to give appropriate context to the interviewee.
- Avoid scales and binary responses which do not give you much feedback.
- Execute the Interview. Follow the best practices in the “How to Conduct User Interviews” article to have a great interview! Make sure to take notes using the article as a guide for effectively executing an interview. Also try employing the technique of laddering where you dive into a person’s motivations, the motivations for their motivations, their motivations for those, etc., until you find an underlying root cause. Finally, make sure to let the user talk and employ silence as needed to let the user think and breathe.
Finally, you should synthesize your results and identify the 3 biggest needs of your user based on your results. This write up should take 2–3 pages. In your write-up:
- Clearly identify your object/action of study and subject.
- Clearly identify your needfinding methodology.
- Include your interview script.
- Summarize the results of your interview including:
- A summary of the responses to your questions.
- Inferences you made about the subject’s mindset based on your discussion.
- Pain points and discrepancies that you identified in the interview.
- From the results, identify and justify the 3 biggest needs of your user. You do not need to propose any solutions to the needs you identified, but you do need to justify them based on your results.