The Ideal User Research Process:
Step 2. Gather Input
Ideally, this would include a combination of two input models: Generative Input and Evaluative Input. In many cases, clients are only able to follow one model. If this is your circumstance, choose whichever one makes the most sense given your resources and desired result.
In this model, we evaluate how people find data based on the structures available to them. This may include a combination of the pre-existing site structure (if one exists), and examples of an initial plan that you think you may use before initiating User Research.
A key component of this model includes interviews:
Identify a selection of individuals who reflect an effective sampling of the types determined by personas and ask them for feedback on the existing site.
- Find out what they like.
- Find out what they come to the site for often.
- Find out what they wish they could access.
- Find out where they are frustrated.
Ideally, interviews will not be conducted or attended by anyone who was or is perceived as being involved with the production of the existing site so that no one modifies their feedback to avoid hurting feelings. This process can be done via remote web conference calls or in-person interviews.
If a low budget alternative is required, web surveys are a cheap alternative to actual interviews. If you use this method alone, however, be aware that strictly using a survey method is likely to result in skewed data, as only the most aggrieved participants are likely to provide substantial responses.
The idea behind this model is that we identify the most intuitive, but perhaps not so obvious, structure for the targeted users. We gather input from representative sample users through either Open Card Sorting, Closed Card Sorting, or a combination there-in.
- Open Card Sorting: We provide users with a collection of cards with categories, and ask them to group the cards in patterns that make sense to them.
- Closed Card Sorting: We present the users with a pre-determined top-level set of categories, and ask the users to group the cards we provide under those pre-set groupings.
Open Card Sorting can deliver a more organic site structure, but it can also generate a significant amount of information that must be analyzed, which may be overwhelming.
In-Person / Remote
All these techniques can be run both in-person or remote, using web-conference and cloud-based card sorting applications. Both practices have their pros and cons, so the primary factor in determination is based on access and resources.