Four tools for selecting UX research methods

three dog-eared books stacked on top of one another, with pencils, paper, and sticky notes marking pages.

For every UX problem, there is a UX research method.

Well, that might be stating it a little too simply.

For any one UX problem you will likely need several UX research methods to unpack it.  If we were casting roles for the proverb about blind men and the elephant, UX problems are the elephant and UX research methods are the blind men. Most of my projects involve some combination of interviews, usability tests, think-a-louds, and contextual inquiries, with the occasional diary study.

When it comes to drafting a research plan, and figuring which out which methods you should pull out of your quiver, it can be helpful to have a few “cheat sheets” or summaries to refer to. Here are 4 tools to help you select the right UX research methods:

  • UX Research Cheat Sheet – An easy-to-use cheat sheet for selecting a method for each phase of the project.
  • Methods cards from 18f – Quick summaries of different research methods, organized by the phase of the project.
  • The UX Toolbelt – A web application for selecting UX methods. It includes time and cost estimates for each method, so you can quickly whip up a budget plan for research.
  • UX Project Checklist – A general checklist for every UX project, with links to other articles and resources.

A question: how do you pick your UX research methods?

What references, books, websites, cheat sheets, etc. do you use? Are they any other resources I should add to this list?

UX Mini-lesson: Storyboards

In the background, there is a storyboard describing the user-centered startup use case. Over top, it says, "UX mini-lesson: Storyboards."

Storyboards are the UX designers’ secret weapon. They can be used in so many versatile ways, but require relatively little effort to make. Storyboards are a powerful design tool because they…

  • convey the “big picture” idea in just a few frames,
  • combine many design elements (personas, requirements, solutions, etc.) into one coherent story,
  • produce assets that can be shared, tested, and collaborated on,
  • and, most importantly, they force you think through and articulate the problem you are trying to solve and the requirements any solution would have.

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UX Mini-lesson: Diary Studies

Picture of a notebook with the words, "UX Mini Lesson: How to conduct diary studies," written over top.

For today’s post I a present a “UX mini-lesson” on how to conduct diary studies. We will cover the value of longitudinal data sets, and strategies to maximize the quality and number of diary entries from your participants.

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Get to big ideas fast: Review of “Sprint” by Jake Knapp


(this book review was originally published on The UX Bookclub)

Designers are not just designers. In fact, if you define “design work” as time spent creating beautiful things, then I would say designers are really “designers” only about a quarter of the time. In reality, good designers are team facilitators. Good UX is everyone’s responsibility, and UX designers are just there to facilitate the process.

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UX Foundations Workshop

dot voting on designs

Back in September, my friend Karen Tang and I taught a UX Foundations workshop as part of the PGH-Tech meet-up group. In the workshop, students were grouped into teams and asked to create think about a design problem in one of four domains: Health, Education, Kids/Family, or Travel. Then they utilized a number of techniques and strategies to ultimately wireframe a solution. In particular, we covered…

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UX Mini-lesson: How to conduct user interviews

A picture of two coffee cups and hands holding them across the table.

User interviews are, by far, the research method I use the most. They are relatively inexpensive to conduct yet provide a wealth of information that can be used to guide design. Also, user interviews are a research method that is easy to “get right”. With just a little bit of guidance, even the most novice of researchers can conduct a worthwhile user interview.

So for today’s post I a present a “UX mini-lesson” on how to talk to users. We will cover what information you can (and can’t) get from a user interview and the two, absolute best questions to ask in every interview.

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Resources for Startups in Pittsburgh

Resources for Startups in Pittsburgh

A little over a year ago I moved from San Francisco, CA to Pittsburgh, PA. It was a decision I was initially unsure about, but I couldn’t be happier in my new home.  Pittsburgh has gotten a number of accolades recently. Movoto named Pittsburgh the smartest city in the US due to the incredible number of universities, libraries, and museums we enjoy. And while Pittsburgh may have a “Rust Belt” locale, it wont stay rusty for long. Forbes magazine named it a “comeback city” due to its incredible recovery from the steel industry collapse. Overall, yinzers (the local slang for Pittsburgh natives) are a well-educated and industrious group. And for small business owners, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer. Here are some of the many resources available to Pittsburgh startups.

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