An interesting new direction for the next toolbox prototype could be the development of a decision aid, instead of dishing out a ready-made path as some of my previous iterations. After all, the main problem is not the ability or capability of new user researchers, nor is it the quality of the available user research methods. The problem is the sheer amount and lack of transparency and overview of existing methods. A decision aid could be just what is needed.
I just started the development of the 5th toolbox iteration. As we speak, I am reading lots of new information, papers and books to give my ideas a final big spin before the final prototype needs to become a detailed reality. For example, I was inspired by research from TNO about how the use of a decision aid makes people more confident about their choices. The papers are about the choice of where to die when the time comes: at home, in a care home or in the hospital.
Of course the circumstances and context of this choice could not be further away from the decision on which research method to choose, but nonetheless I was intrigued by the effect of improved confidence. In the toolbox, instead of telling people what to do in baby steps, they can choose their own path from a range of suitable options. This does fit nicely with a concept from Donald Norman’s book Living with Complexity, namely that if something is too simple, it can boring and not perceived as valuable. The right balance between complexity and ease of use, and autonomy versus guidance, is one I need to work on carefully.
Also the observation from one of the papers that personal ‘testimony’ stories have a bigger effect than simply stating the facts, reminded me of the theories behind Hassenzahl’s Experience Design book and Derya Ozcelik’s research method Co-Constructing Stories.