Jan Chipchase interview
One of my assumptions during interviews as well as more ad-hoc conversations is that everyone has something interesting to say you just need to figure out what it is. More often than not the listener enters a conversation assuming the opposite, doesn’t take the time to properly hear what’s actually being said, or quite simply the listener doesn’t have the skills or cultural context to appreciate the subtleties of what is communicated. Everyone can reflect on their life experiences but that most people don’t choose to, and only a few choose to do so in a public forum. The issue is not whether we are ‘always on’, but what we are always on to. What is it that is noticed? How much time is spent in absorbing, or in reflection, or in applying what is learned? (...) One of the assumptions of contextual design processes is that two weeks, two days or even two hours spent in the context of whatever or whomever we are researching is better than none. (...) The perception of those “immersed experiences” also plays a role when it comes to communicating the research results. Its one thing to say that you conducted qualitative research in a 3rd tier city in northern China, it’s another to show the richness of that context through a video of an interview conducted in a two room family apartment. (...) Generally I prefer to go in the field with a specific interest area, for example Mobile TV or illiterate contact management, clear topics that can be researched and delivered. During the project-planning phase I try to ensure methodologies that allow us to collect data on related issues and I always leave enough time to scout new topics. The role of research is to explore the boundaries of what’s out there. It’s typical for some research to continue existing trajectories whilst others are at more of a tangent to current practices. (...) If there is frustration in the way research is enterpreted then much of the blame falls on the researcher: not taking the time to understand the design needs of the research team; an inability to clearly communicating ideas, and not making the effort to re-package research results to arising needs. (...) In deciding what methods to use we always start with the participants and their need to be comfortable with the research process. Given that we want to collect data from pretty much every context where the phone is used from when people get up to when they go to bed, and techniques such as wallet mapping can expose very sensitive data.
Why do I blog this? lots of insightful tips and insights there for people like me who are doing user experience research. There are also good practical issues (default accommodation is often a multi-national hotel chain?) ;)