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Overview: User Research Bootcamp

Field studies and usability tests are invaluable when you need to understand first-hand how users work or behave, the kinds of tasks users carry out and the variety of environments in which users operate. Real-world observation provides insights that user self reports or surveys can't provide — often because users can't explain what they are doing or because their behaviour is so practised that users can't articulate how they use a product.

But carrying out field studies and usability tests present a number of difficulties. How do you select the right users? When should you observe and when should you ask questions? How do you collect observational data and how do you analyse it to build and improve your product?

In this course, you'll discover how to plan, execute and analyse user research within an agile framework. During each classroom session, you'll prepare the materials you will need to carry out user research on the very product your team is developing.

“Honestly it was the most useful course I've ever done, although I now spend my spare time spotting really bad/really good user design!” – Tess Dekkers, Head of Market and User Research, UK Hydrographic Office.

Printable pdf course description for this seminar

About your trainer

David Travis

This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis, the author of Think Like a UX Researcher. David has more than 20 years experience in the field of user centred design and has delivered over 100 seminars in user experience for a range of private and public sector organisations.

David Travis Dr. David Travis (@userfocus) This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis, the author of Think Like a UX Researcher. David has more than 20 years experience in the field of user centred design and has delivered over 100 seminars in user experience for a range of private and public sector organisations. He spent 12 months coaching business analysts in HMRC to transition to a user research role and was commissioned by GDS to create this course and deliver it to user researchers throughout Government.

This training seminar is aimed at:

  • People who are new to the role of user research within Scrum teams.
  • Teams who want to learn best practice in user research.

How will I benefit?

  • Discover why contextual research is critical to product development.
  • Describe the user groups for your product.
  • Create a lightweight persona to identify the key assumptions you need to test.
  • Practice field study interviewing.
  • Build a research plan to take back to your workplace and execute.
  • Recognise good and poor questions to ask in user interviews.
  • Practice field study interviewing.
  • Use affinity diagramming to interpret the data from a field visit and create a user journey map.
  • Recognise different methods of usability testing, such as lab-based, pop-up, remote moderated and remote unmoderated.
  • Learn how to write a test plan to engage the development team in user research.
  • Develop test tasks that are relevant to your product.
  • Turn key tasks into usability testing scenarios.
  • Use your test data to create insights and design ideas that can move your project forward.
  • Experience what's involved in moderating usability tests, making observations and analysing the data.
  • Practice using a Kanban to plan user research within an agile framework.

Seminar content

Understanding user needs and designing products to support them

  • Syndicate activity: Defining user needs.
  • The three elements of the context of use.
  • User research at scale: researching mass market products.

Introduction to ethnographic techniques

  • The roots of ethnography.
  • The similarities and differences between traditional ethnography and design ethnography.

Why carry out contextual research?

  • Why you need to discover (not just validate) user needs.
  • Syndicate Activity: Understanding the Double Diamond.
  • The first (and second) rule of finding out what people want.
  • The 6 phases of field research.

Preparing for user research: Set the project focus

  • How to evaluate existing research.
  • Defining your research problem.

Decide who to visit

  • How to use theoretical sampling to engage a variety of people in user research.
  • Creating a sketch persona to highlight assumptions.
  • The four questions to test a user need.

How to recruit research participants: Deciding who to visit

  • Ensuring the correct number: How many users should you involve?
  • Briefing the recruitment agency.
  • How to ensure each team member gets their “exposure hours”.

How to conduct the ethnographic interview

  • How to obtain consent and manage personal data according to GDPR.
  • The four phases of a field visit.
  • When to use open and closed questions.
  • How a topic map will help you elicit stories.
  • The role of investigator and note taker.
  • Syndicate activity: Run a practice interview.
  • Artefact analysis and workflow analysis.

Lightweight ethnographic techniques: Lean approaches to user research

  • Pop-up user research
  • Jobs to be done (JTBD)
  • Diary studies
  • Remote phone interviewing
  • User workshops

How to process research data: Analysis

  • What is an “observation”?
  • The 4 steps in analysing qualitative data.
  • Data extraction: what makes a great affinity note?
  • Introduction to affinity diagramming.
  • The art of the insight statement.

How to process research data: Sharing the results

  • Empathy maps, scenarios and storyboards.
  • The user journey map, from simple to complex.
  • Syndicate Activity: Create a user journey map.
  • The experience mapping technique and when to use it.
  • Syndicate Activity: Create a user experience map.

Introduction to usability testing

  • Formative versus summative testing.
  • The landscape of usability testing methods.

Preparing for user research: Forming a test strategy

  • The Usability Test Plan Dashboard.
  • Syndicate activity: Turn these half-formed questions from the team into designs for a usability test.
  • Syndicate activity: Create a test plan dashboard.
  • The Landauer-Nielsen formula: Why 5 participants are (usually) enough.

Preparing for user research: Writing Test Tasks

  • Turning tasks into usability test scenarios.
  • A taxonomy of test tasks.
  • The 5 questions to ask of a usability test scenario.
  • Syndicate activity: What's wrong with these usability test scenarios?
  • Syndicate activity: Create test scenarios for a usability test.

How to conduct a “thinking aloud” usability test

  • The 3 hats you wear as a usability test moderator.
  • Syndicate activity: Observe videos of moderators welcoming a test participant.
  • Syndicate activity: Generate solutions to challenging test situations.
  • The 5 mistakes that test moderators make when using the thinking aloud protocol.
  • The Usability Test Moderator's Flowchart.
  • The 3 components of usability and how to measure each one.
  • Creating a post-test usability survey.
  • Practical activity: Run a usability test.

How to process research data: Finding and fixing usability problems

  • Affinity diagramming as an analysis tool.
  • Sharing your results with screenshot forensics.
  • Identifying the smallest, simplest change to keep people from having the problem you observed.

Planning and executing a program of user research

  • Syndicate activity: Planning user research activities (Phase 1)
  • Syndicate activity: Using the Kanban to prioritise.
  • Syndicate activity: Report back on research activity.
  • Syndicate activity: Planning user research activities (Phase 2)
  • Syndicate activity: Report back on research activity.
  • Syndicate activity: Tricky user research scenarios.

Wrap up

  • Opportunity for final questions.
  • Your homework options.

What delegates say about this course

  • “The course was very comprehensive and exceptionally well run.” — Jacqueline Buckley, Environment Agency.
  • “I already have a good grasp of user research and I thought it might duplicate previous training or tell me what I already knew. Whilst we did touch on things I already knew, I have learnt far more than I thought I would: in particular, techniques I didn't know and how to do things 'right'.” — Phoebe Crossland, Department for Transport.
  • “The specific parts of the course I found most useful were the case study on the final day where we worked on a specific scenario and the usability testing where we highlighted and prioritised user insights.” — Rosie Clayton, GDS.
  • “Super helpful and digestible. Loved that days were clearly split into branches of user research.” — Corey Drewry, Department for Transport.
  • “I was concerned that this course would be too high level/theoretical and not useful given I've already learnt a lot on the job. But it wasn't at all! Very useful detail, good practical exercises and examples and lots I can implement.” — Naomi Grayburn, HMRC.

Still not sure if this course is for you? Read a review of the course on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency web site.

What do I get when I book this course?

  • 5 day training course with a user experience expert.
  • An electronic copy of the slides.
  • A 2-course, hot lunch on each day and refreshments throughout the course.
  • A proper, air-conditioned learning environment.

More details on what you get.


This training course lasts 5 days.

How do I book?

We schedule this course based on demand. If you want to attend a public course, click on the button below. Once we get 8 like-minded individuals we'll schedule a course and let you know.

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