In step 4 and 5 of the Designstaff sprint process, a quick wireframe prototype is produced to be able to evaluate the concept with users.
Click the picture below to see the prototype:
I evaluated this prototype with two small businesses in IT. The first was a 5-person company that has substantial experience with user research, and operates on the interface design / marketing side of the development process. I thought it was very interesting to hear their take, although they are not actually the target user.
- Their way of working is to ask client and users a lot of questions first, then start designing
- Seen in one of their interfaces: a 1-2-3-4-5 visual to show user where they are in the process
- The toolkit could be a threat to companies like this, because user research is now their unique quality. If everyone can do it, they would not have that selling point anymore. Perhaps even their clients could start to do user research themselves and not need this company anymore
- Another unique quality is that they share a lot of their knowledge with their customers, this gives clients a lot of value for their money
I think the concern over losing business for these kinds of companies is something I should keep in mind. However, I doubt that a toolbox would be something that can replace years of education, intuition and experience with user research. The Inclusive Design Toolbox would be for absolute newcomers in user research, who through the toolbox, can become aware of the need for good research and the importance of it.
Once they are convinced of the benefits, perhaps they decide to do more complex or elaborate user research for which they would rather hire an expert, thus actually creating business opportunities.
The second evaluation with the current prototype was with an independent entrepreneur who is developing technology to improve the quality of life for elderly, by combining sensor technology with appropriate types of social media. I spoke with this person before, and he is interested to use the toolbox in the development of this product, providing me with an interesting case-study.
During our session, I wanted to focus on the following questions:
- Who is the main end-user? Elderly person or their caretaker(s)?
- What kind of scenario are we designing for? An elderly person choosing to call for (medical) care, or a ‘sign-of-life’ system that works more autonomously?
Because there are so much technical possibilities, and there are so many possible use scenarios, it is difficult to limit ideas and focus on one function only. The entrepreneur had high expectations of what can be accomplished in one user session, and did not take into account that insights from the user sessions should be taken into account in the next steps, such as sketching the scenario.
- Should there be a step between the basic preparations and the user session, called ‘Questions’, with guidance on how to focus on the most relevant questions?
- Should there be more focus on the business case?
- Should there be more explanation about choosing which stage the project is in? How can you tell if you are ‘blank’ or have an idea?
- Should there be information on how to outline a clear idea, how to develop a user scenario, etc? Or can I just refer to existing methods like Designstaff’s?
- The main goal of the toolbox should be to create awareness that the assumptions you make about people, are not always correct. Perhaps this can happen at any stage in the project. Example: Make a list of assumptions. Now turn those into questions that you ask users. Then ask ‘why’ and record the answer.
- Invite participants: also think of other stakeholders next to main target users
- Provide a way to communicate the session results to the participants
In August we will organize a user session together, to test some assumptions made about the elderly user group, before developing a more advanced prototype of the company’s app (working title: Aunt Annie’s App).
Overall I thought these evaluation sessions went well, because most of the discussions were about the specifics of doing user research. The need to do so was not questioned, nor was the interactive prototype itself. Since the goal of this design sprint was to see if users would understand what the prototype was for, and if they would like to use it, I am quite happy with the result, especially because I also collected a lot of input on how to improve the next prototype.
To-Do List for the next design cycle:
- Put in something in the interface that shows the user where they are in the process
- Provide guidance when choosing project phase
- Put in an extra step to focus on the key questions to ask during the session
- Provide feedback to participants after the session
- A critical look at the overall experience: does it ‘sell’ inclusive design?
- Offer choice of methods with short explanations, or offer alternatives
- Where can general information on the user group go?
- Ipad prototype
- Accompanying poster