Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Start user research by talking with staff

Up-front techniques when conducting user research ...

"We all know we should involve users when redesigning a website, but where do you start? There are various methods of 'cold calling' end-users to involve them in research activities (eg interviews, focus groups and usability testing) but there is a valuable source of information you might want to consult first.

By talking with staff in your own organisation, you can leverage the vast body of knowledge on customers (aka clients, students, associates etc) who probably make up a large proportion of your website audience.

This is an excellent way to not only gain an initial picture of your audience, but also to establish who has contact with clients, to be used later when recruiting users for direct research.

Who is your audience?

Your organisation may well posses a great deal of intelligence about customers and other users of your website. In this case, your task is relatively straightforward, although you may need to work a bit harder to reach all audience groups.

However, this is often not the case, and the task of getting in touch with website users to do research can be quite frustrating. This is where talking to key staff can help.

Who to talk to

You most likely already have a good sense of key staff to talk with, but some suggestions include:

• Sales and/or marketing
• Corporate communications
• Satellite offices (particularly overseas)
• Research partner liaison
• Special cases (eg disabled student liaison)
• Industry association representatives"    (Continued via CM Briefing)    [Usability Resources]

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