What do you know, what don’t you know, and how are you going to learn it?
A learning plan sounds like a formal concept, but really it’s just about taking the time to ask yourself where the gaps are in your current understanding of users’ needs and experiences, and how you can fill in that understanding. A surprisingly large number of people claim to practice user-centered design, but fail to ever actually speak with or spend time with users. Don’t be like them. One of the core tenets of a user-centered philosophy is that you respect and learn from your users’ sometimes unpredictable lives. A learning plan is a simple tool that you can use by yourself or with a team to map out what you know and what you need to learn.
Try It Out
What’s the most unlikely place where you’ve uncovered great data about your users?
- Start with what you know.
Set aside 30 minutes or an hour to free-list everything you think you know about your users What are your working assumptions?
- Separate certainties from assumptions.
For each assumption, indicate how confident you are in that assumption. While you do this, look for any questions that can be grouped together and simplified.
- Brainstorm research methods.
Now, for each of your questions, brainstorm how you might go about getting more data or info in this area. Also think about what resources will be required to actually answer these questions (for example, face-to-face time with users, a Web intercept survey, access to server log data, etc.). Note that not all research questions will require direct and immediate access to customers. Some answers can be derived from tools or processes that users touch—for example, call center transcripts, search analytics, and so on. Be creative in thinking about where and how you can gather data to answer your questions.
- Plan outputs.
Finally, for each area that you’d like to research further, think about what form your evidence will take (for example, presenting and distributing new personas).
Post your reply as a comment below by Tuesday, 11/26, midnight PT. The best reply wins a free copy of The User Experience Team of One.
- Start with what you know.
UX Method of the Week: Learning Plan
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2 Responses to “UX Method of the Week: Learning Plan”
I generally find out more about my end users in the interstitial spaces between tasks or at the end of a formal test. The organic, personal stories that are told by an end user about their lives and day-to-day activities can be the insight and catalyst that is needed to get you the motivation and political ammunition to create something that can empower your end users.
The most unlikely place where I’ve uncovered great data about users is the pub, after more formal research. Some users are more forthcoming in a purely social situation than in a formal situation. Other users are more honest in a purely social situation, without colleagues or peers around, and sometimes contradict what they previously said in a formal situation.