Posts tagged “synthesis”

Pattern-recognition is crucial for sense-making

interviewing-users

Interviewing Users is now available. Get your copy here!




theartofscientificinvestigation


Excerpting from a great post…The Art of Observation and How to Master the Crucial Difference Between Observation and Intuition [Brain Pickings] – Highlights from a 1957 book by Cambridge University professor W. I. B. Beveridge come from the era of the scientific method but are broadly applicable to creative, innovative, design-thinking approaches to problem solving.

Ultimately, Beveridge argues that the art of observation depends on developing the capacity for pattern-recognition, which in turn relies on a broad pool of networked knowledge that allows you to spot the piece that doesn’t fit: “In carrying out any observation you look deliberately for each characteristic you know may be there, for any unusual feature, and especially for any suggestive associations or relationships among the things you see, or between them and what you know. – Most of the relationships observed are due to chance and have no significance, but occasionally one will lead to a fruitful idea.”

Video now available from Steve’s talk at Mozilla

Last week I visited Mozilla’s beautiful, dog-friendly offices to talk with their user researchers and designers. They’ve just posted the video from my presentation of We’ve done all this research, now what?. Note that the start is cut off, and it kicks in at 11:47.

Note: the slides are included in the video but for easier viewing check out a similar presentation here.

Steve Portigal teaching “Immersive Field Research Techniques” at UI16

Join me for Immersive Field Research Techniques coming up November 7 in Boston at User Interface 16.

My session will be pretty similar to the recent Rosenfeld Media workshop in Seattle, which was pretty well received 🙂






If you haven’t registered yet, you can use the code STEVEP for $300 off the whole conference, or $50 of a single day.

I hope to see you there!

Steve to lead “Interviewing Users” workshop 9/28 in Seattle

As part of the Rosenfeld Media UX Workshops Fall 2011 Tour, I’ll be leading a full-day workshop – Interviewing Users: Spinning Data into Gold.

You can choose up to 3 workshops, including ones from Lou Rosenfeld and Steve Krug. Early registration (with a decent discount) ends September 9.

Bonus: the event will held at the amazing Seattle Central Library!

I hope to see you there!

Steve leading Immersive Field Research Techniques workshop at UI16

I’ll be presenting a full-day workshop on Immersive Field Research Techniques at User Interface 16 this November in Boston.

Registration gives you

  • Two full-day workshops: The UI16 experts will dive deep and get to the nitty-gritty details that make any designer into a pro.
  • One day of short talks: This is where you’ll discover the latest UX ideas and techniques from each of our expert speakers. Don’t forget Jared Spool’s entertaining and educational keynote.
  • Complete conference materials: We’ll send you the PDFs of every session and workshop just before you leave for the conference. Then you can focus on insights and not note-taking.
  • Recordings of the short talks: The benefits keeping coming after the conference. Through the recordings, you can relive every short talk at your office with your entire team.

Right now they are offering 100 registrations at a sneak-preview price of $1349. They are (as of this posting) down to 79 sneak-spots, after that it goes up $300.

I hope to see you there!

Next week – Steve’s webinar on synthesizing user research data

I’ll be presenting my webinar User Research Analysis: You’ve Done All This Research, Now What on Thursday, April 7. This webinar is based on a workshop that I’ve led in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Portland, Vancouver, and San Francisco, among other many other places. I’m always hearing from people who are interested but who aren’t in those cities at those times, but with a webinar, anyone anywhere can participate. I’ve adapted the workshop to suit the webinar format and added a bunch of new content based on what I’ve observed working (or not working) in the workshops, not to mention some of the latest techniques we’re using in our work.

Use the promotion code PORTIGAL when you register and get free lifetime access to the webinar that you can share with everyone in your organization. (A $40 value.) If you can’t make the webinar when it happens (time zone challenges? conflicting meetings?) you can use this code when register and watch it later at your convenience.

Check out a quick preview, below

Also available: last year’s UIE Virtual Seminar on Deep Dive Interviewing Techniques.

Sign up for Steve’s upcoming webinar on User Research Analysis Techniques

On April 7, I’ll be presenting a UIE Virtual Seminar called User Research Analysis Techniques: You’ve Done All This Research, Now What?. Sign up here!

Steve will explain synthesis, or how you turn field data into insights. Simply put, Synthesis is an iterative approach to sense-making. Steve will show you that it’s about both the experience you have as a researcher gathering that data AND the rigor of processing that data. You’ll learn the steps and types of output and deliverables that we produce as we go through the process.

Steve will help you explore ideation, where turning insights into solutions actually happens. Here’s where your hard work pays off! Ideation is about creating a wide-range of possible solutions across a wider set of areas than you can act on.

Oh, and if there’s really no such thing as a bad idea, how do you benefit from the ones that feel like they are? Steve will show you the power of “bad ideas ” and how they help you get unstuck.

Check out a quick preview, below

Also available: last year’s UIE Virtual Seminar on Deep Dive Interviewing Techniques.

Recap of Steve and Julie’s URF10 synthesis workshop

Our friends at Bolt | Peters hosted their (mostly) annual User Research Friday event last week, bringing together practitioners from the client-side as well as consultants to share stories and discuss best practices. Some of our takeaways from the day are here.

The day before the conference, Steve and Julie co-led a sold-out workshop titled “We’ve Done All This Research- Now What?” for a group of 20 enthusiastic researchers and designers.


Julie and Steve in action

The purpose of the workshop was to practice the process of moving from the data and observations we gather in fieldwork toward opportunities and ultimately to ideas.

We framed this as a research project to inform a neighborhood redevelopment/gentrification effort. Before the workshop, participants first wandered their own neighborhoods…


Thanks to Nick Leggett from Zazz for this aerial shot from their Seattle offices


Noe Valley scene (a San Francisco neighborhood) captured by Julie

…and then when we got together, they the explored neighborhood surrounding Bolt | Peters for more data.


This machine shop just down the street from Bolt | Peters has been there for decades


6th street buzzes, about two blocks from the conference

Break-out groups took the synthesis tasks to heart and, in a very short period of time, collaboratively surfaced promising opportunities and strategies and solutions to address them.

We were humbled by the gentle empathy and creativity of the folks in the room. The morning served as an inspiring reminder of just how much progress a handful of smart, dedicated people can make on seemingly-intractable problems in a very short period of time.

More amazing photos, observations, output, and thoughtful commentary can be seen on the blog we created for the workshop.

The workshop slides are below.

See previously: Steve Portigal’s presentation from User Research Friday 2008

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] App Creep and the Case for the Mobile Browser [www.gigaom.com] – [Interesting blog post observing that apps, as they are all at the same level, create confusion and navigation issues when they start to pile up into the 100s, and wondering how app-creep will affect behavior and choices both for consumers and providers.] Contrary to what some are predicting will be a stronger movement toward native apps and a marginalization of the browser in the age of the mobile web, I see something different: an eventual balancing out. Native apps will always be on mobile phones, but as a kind of premier gallery of a person’s most beloved ones. Sooner than later, most companies seeking our attention will do so through a browser.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Doodle Jump Reaches Five Million Downloads [Bits Blog – NYTimes.com] – [Doodle Jump continues to leap into cultural relevance one little, tiny platform at a time.] Doodle the Doodler has appeared on the Jimmy Fallon “Late Night” show and has shown up in fashion accessories for Lady Gaga, among others. Meanwhile, Doodle Jump constantly updates with new designs to give the game a new look. The brothers recently released a soccer theme and plan to release an underwater theme in the coming months. The brothers are also looking into creating an animated series based on Doodle the Doodler and the monsters in the game. As my colleague Jenna Wortham reported in April in The Times, Doodle Jump fans can also expect an iPad application.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus [Julius von Bismarck & Benjamin Maus] – [This automated drawing machine provides a new way to synthesize and examine cultural trends. The machine uses a visual language derived from patent drawings to translate the text from best-selling books into illustrations] Seven million patents — linked by over 22 million references — form the vocabulary. By using references to earlier patents, it is possible to find paths between arbitrary patents. They form a kind of subtext. New visual connections and narrative layers emerge through the interweaving of the story with the depiction of technical developments.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Stop-Motion Papercraft Storytelling [trendhunter.com] – [The Inventor of Onitsuka Tiger and Asics athletic footwear recounts with an origami-based video how he got started and how Asics develops new ideas. The narration is a little out of sequence with the visual, but it's still a great piece of storytelling]

Steve speaking at User Experience Hong Kong

I’m thrilled to be invited to speak at the first User Experience Hong Kong, taking place next February. Organized by my good friends at Apogee, the event also features a number of super smart (and super nice!) folks: Steve Baty, Janna DeVylder, Rachel Hinman, and Gerry Gaffney.

I’ll be leading a workshop entitled “Well, we’ve done all this research, now what?”

One of the most persistent factors limiting the impact of user research in business is that projects often stop with a cataloging findings and implications rather than generating opportunities that directly enable the findings. As designers increasingly become involved in using contextual research to inform their design work, they may find themselves holding onto a trove of raw data but with little awareness of how to turn it into design. How can designers and researchers work with user research data to create new things for business to do?

Almost related: Pictures from my last Hong Kong trip (2006)

Reading Ahead: Focusing Your Story

Reading ahead
While we “delivered” our project’s results in an earlier post, in our client engagements we often have the experience of revisiting the same material for another audience. We might deliver a 3-hour interactive presentation with our core team, and then come back weeks later and share the highlights with their management team. And while we might panic at compressing the 3 hours into (say) one hour, it’s a really powerful editing activity when forced to do that. What is the core of the story? What do people need to know about? What have we learned in giving the presentation already? What has changed since then?

For Reading Ahead, we’ve been sharing this work with friends at Adobe, Blurb, UC Berkeley, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. And that’s given us a chance to revisit the presentation. We’ve refreshed it visually, focused the core message, and expanded it to include some things that came out since our initial research was conducted (i.e., Amazon’s advertising campaign for the Kindle and the launch of the Nook). We haven’t recorded a new narration (check out the full deliverable if you want that), but you can see how we’ve focused our story in this presentation.

Twitter as the Tree of Souls


The Omaticaya clan link the group mind via the Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar

Steve published a Quickie post recently on the Twitter remix of his Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets webinar.

I was struck by how the Twitter remix goes beyond reportage, not just echoing the points raised in the presentation but adding a layer of synthesis and translating the content across different media.

It’s a crowd-sourced boiling-down, and yet another of many examples of how this type of platform can be harnessed to interpret and respond to events in real time.

It’s also another illustration of how, as complex as technology has become, it so often still exists in service to the most elemental human activities. In this particular usage of Twitter, the support of tribal communication and the distillation of the group mind.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Stereotyping people by favorite authors – In our Reading Ahead research, we heard about how people were both exploring and communicating identity through their choices of reading material. Identity is a complex internal and external mechanism, where we (explicitly or implicitly) project outwards to imagine how we might appear to others…an internal act that feels or draws from the external. So the existence of lists like this, while tongue-in-cheek, validate that this process is real.
    (via @kottke)
  • Scott Baldwin on the fine art of listening – Try changing how you listen. Try to capture the message (listen with your ears, mind, eyes and heart). Make eye contact, use an open posture and be attentive to body language, volume, tone and pace. Look deeper than just the meaning of the words and try to understand the reason, feelings or intent beyond the words. Be empathetic, objective and analytical.
  • An iPhone app for ethnography – Really? I haven't tried it but I am not encouraged by the description. What we're looking for doesn't always fit into predetermined categories (indeed, how are you to be innovative if the type of data you are gathering is already classifiable?) and there's a danger in conflating data with insights (or as the blogger here writes "outcomes"). Raw data is overwhelming and takes time and skill to process, if you want to find out anything new. Now, we spend a lot of our time just wrangling (copying, renaming, organizing, sharing, etc.) all sorts of data, so I'm up for tools that can help with that; but I think it's easy to go overboard and create tools for uninteresting – or unreliable – research results
  • Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection – Not an SNL parody ad from 1997, it's a real product line for 2010 (via @CarlAlviani)

Series

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