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Users In The Mist: Stories from Field Studies40:58 with Brad Nunnally
Field Studies are great learning opportunities to capture personal details about people and their environments. This activity provides challenges though, like when you find yourself in an uncomfortable position due to an offhand comment or if you notice something about their environment that is a danger. Over the course of my career, I've had the opportunity to conduct field studies where sensitive information was the focus and odd, or unexpected, situations came up. Based on my experiences, I've put together lessons learned that can help practitioners prepare for performing fields studies, and also provide warning signs for when things start to go awry. These lessons will be given as parables to interviews I've conducted with people around dinner tables around the country. These stories range from the humorous to the slightly disturbing. And each has a unique message to tell that will help designers, new and old, prepare for field studies of their own.
[MUSIC] 0:00 Let me grab some water because I'm gonna need it and 0:15 I'll introduce myself while I'm pouring. 0:18 So my name is Brad Nunley. 0:20 I'm one of those weird UX guys that like to talk about people and 0:22 research and design, and how it all kinda fits into the world and stuff. 0:27 So, this talk is about Users In The Mist. 0:32 It's gonna be a collection of stories of me doing field studies, all the mistakes 0:34 that I made, and the lessons that I learned from those mistakes. 0:38 So hopefully when you do field studies it doesn't happen to you. 0:41 I remember way back when, when I was getting a computer science degree, 0:45 sitting inside of the human computer interaction course. 0:49 And I learned about this concept of going out and talking to people and learning 0:52 about what kind of pain and frustration they had with technology and stuff. 0:56 And there's this group of people that make it better for them. 0:59 I'm like, well that sounds way more interesting than coding. 1:02 And I found my passion and I found my profession. 1:05 So that's kind of how I got into this space. 1:07 And then I discovered these things called field studies, 1:10 which is actually going out into the wild, sitting at people's desk's at their homes, 1:12 in their bedrooms, in their offices and then learning about their lives and 1:16 then trying to figure out how to take that information and make it meaningful and 1:19 create pleasure out of pain because there is always so 1:23 much pain out there in the world. 1:26 What's sad, though, is that this act of doing field studies are very hard to do, 1:29 because they're very hard to do professionally. 1:32 They're scary, they're difficult. 1:35 There's a lot of logistics that go into it. 1:36 And they're also really hard to get funding, 1:38 because no one wants to pay you to go out and talk to people for two hours and 1:40 hope that it might produce value at the end of the day. 1:43 This is becoming a little bit more challenging today because there's so 1:47 many devices that confuses [INAUDIBLE] saying oh, look at this really cool thing. 1:50 We can just put something out there really fast and people are gonna love it. 1:54 But we don't stop and think too much about how people are gonna use it or 1:57 if it's in their lives. 2:00 And I'm one of those early adopters that got the Apple Watch and 2:01 while I am a cardinal fan, I'm not a die hard cardinal fan. 2:04 Cuz I'm from St. Louis and I love to know what the score is. 2:07 ESPN will tell me that as plays happen, and there's a share button. 2:10 You click that share button on the watch. 2:13 It does nothing. 2:15 And so it's like no one just asked this very simple question. 2:16 Was, okay, it's out in the wild, how are people going to use this? 2:19 And now it just doesn't work. 2:22 It's getting worse, thanks to things like the watch, 2:24 because every two years our space changes. 2:27 We have this new thing to consider or this new device that goes on the market, 2:30 these new interaction models that are in place. 2:33 We learned that earlier this week with Scott Jenson's talk where 2:35 he talked about the Internet of Things, these devices that are broadcasting 2:38 individual websites as opposed to some sort of signal that you can jack into. 2:42 This is gonna become more and more difficult. 2:47 So you kind of get back to the root of why a lot of designers get into this business, 2:48 like myself, which is making things better for people. 2:52 And that's the core aspect of the research and field studies. 2:54 Field studies are neat because they have a specific flow to them. 2:58 They start by walking up to a house or 3:02 the environment that the person that you're talking with kind of lives in. 3:05 And knocking on that door. 3:09 This is the scary part right here. 3:11 You're entering someone's very, 3:13 very personal space regardless of what that might be. 3:14 And they're inviting you into that space. 3:16 It's scary for you, scary for them. 3:18 You start to get a feel of their environment, 3:22 what are the things that matter to them. 3:24 You can pick up on these things pretty quickly just by looking at 3:25 what's present in their life. 3:28 You can see the pictures of their family or the lack of picture of their family. 3:29 Those type of things are very telling. 3:32 You get to the point of maybe the focus of the study and 3:35 you get to see some really weird and personal information. 3:37 In my context and 3:40 the stories that I'll share later, they dealt with health information. 3:40 We talked with cancer patients and cancer survivors and caregivers. 3:43 We also talked with people that were planning for retirement. 3:47 And that's kind of weird because it's very vague, but 3:49 we talked with people that were fresh out of college that like, 3:51 ooh they have trust for the first time in their life, what do they do with it? 3:53 We talked with people that were like two years away from retiring, 3:56 and they were late getting their eggs in order. 3:59 Then you say goodbye and you leave. 4:02 This is the flow of a field study. 4:04 No matter what it is, this is the kind of routine that you go through. 4:05 And eventually you get used to it, and 4:08 you know how to control the ebb and flow of it. 4:10 But really a field study at the heart is a conversation. 4:13 And so I'm a big fan of Brian Grazer right now. 4:16 I saw him speak at South by Southwest and 4:19 I was just mentally blown away by a lot of the things he said. 4:20 And this is a great quote I love from him, he's like, 4:23 I like learning stuff because the more information you can get about a person or 4:25 subject the more you can pour into a potential project. 4:28 And this is why field studies are so valuable and so 4:31 interesting to me because I get so much information. 4:34 Even if it's just like for two sessions. 4:37 They change the way I think about a project or a solution in ways that I 4:39 probably would have never thought of them if I would've just gone straight to pen 4:43 and paper or a wireframing tool or working with the designer on some type of comp. 4:47 They offer very unique experiences. 4:51 Compared to other methods that we have, such as usability studies, surveying, 4:56 analytics. 4:59 You get out of your comfort zone as a designer, or as a professional, 5:00 because you're in someone's home. 5:05 You get to see how the focus of what you're trying to redesign or 5:06 fix fits into someone's life before, during, and after they use it. 5:10 You see the triggers, which are, a lot of people assume, 5:16 well this is why someone was gonna come use this application. 5:18 And then you'd watch and like that's nowhere near reality, or at least it's 5:21 not exactly reality, and then afterwards, how do you get people to come back to it? 5:26 The session earlier today about designing for 5:31 the 24 experience, they talked about Nike, and Nike really had to try to find ways 5:33 to get people to come back to the brand after they bought something. 5:36 And they looked at what they did after they bought the brand, which was they run, 5:39 so how could the interject themselves into the running experience? 5:42 And they did that by just watching people. 5:45 What I love about field studies also, is they get a little bit odd. 5:47 People do scary things with their lives. 5:51 There's certain things, this happens to me, 5:54 where I might say something that sounds extremely rational. 5:56 It makes total sense and then someone looks at me like, you're crazy. 5:59 >> [LAUGH] >> And I'm like, I'm probably am. 6:03 And everyone is like that. 6:05 And so you get to feel the human side of this work in a very, very personal and 6:06 emotional level. 6:11 Speaking of that kind of feelings, 6:13 they get very uncomfortable both mentally and physically. 6:15 In the two projects that I talked about, they were very personal experiences. 6:19 Someone going through cancer and fighting for their lives. 6:23 People trying to figure out their retirement. 6:26 Especially people that are in maybe like a crises mode of their life and 6:28 they don't know if they'll be able to retire, regardless if they're 20 or 60. 6:31 They do get very, very emotional. 6:35 There's days that I still recall where, 6:38 as bad as it sounds you get to the end of the day you just need that drink. 6:40 Because you've heard so many stories that were either very uplifting or 6:43 very down and you just need something to kind of escape that for the next day, so 6:47 that you can come back the next day with the same level of passion and interest. 6:52 But doing these activities and going out and talking to people, putting yourself in 6:56 this weird spaces, where you can meet with people and learned about their lives. 7:00 It lets you do three main things. 7:04 You listen to real people, you don't listen to suits and 7:06 I can't stress that enough. 7:09 I love working with clients. 7:10 I love working with executives, because they're just fun people sometimes, but 7:11 they're not the people that are gonna use something. 7:15 They make you understand. 7:18 Now whenever you see something, oh, I knew I was almost gonna fault at this thing, 7:19 I knew it, [LAUGH]. 7:23 When you see something in web analytics or in usability study, 7:24 you see what has happened. 7:27 But you don't necessary understand why it happened. 7:29 In lab studies, it's very weird because it's an artificial environment. 7:32 When you get in the real environment you get a better understanding and 7:35 that allows you to act. 7:39 This is where projects like to pivot, I didn't know this was happening and so 7:40 if we just go in this direction, we solve the real problem when 7:44 we create meaning and we engage people in a completely new way. 7:47 When you're doing field studies, 7:51 you get these nice little field kits associated with them. 7:53 I'm gonna kinda do like a past, present and future of field study kits. 7:55 In the past they kind of fell into a collection of devices, 7:59 we would walk around with a Tupperware to each session full of these different 8:03 things cuz we needed them, and that included an audio recorder. 8:07 A good audio recorder beats anything that might be on your phone. 8:11 I swear to God. 8:14 It cancels out noise, if you're in a coffee shop and somewhere noisy, and 8:16 it's great like that, it's invaluable. 8:19 Some sort of camera or visual recorder. 8:22 This is really important whenever you're trying to capture aspects of 8:24 an environment or you're trying to watch someone do something in a very real sense. 8:27 Notes. 8:32 I'm not a huge fan of taking notes on a laptop, 8:33 especially when I'm doing field studies. 8:35 I always feel like that screen is a wall that I'm putting between 8:37 myself and the participant. 8:39 So I carry around physical notes. 8:41 Yeah, it puts time later on because I have to synthesize those notes and 8:42 type them out, but it's well worth the investment. 8:44 And then there's all the essentials. 8:48 You need batteries. 8:49 People just kind of just forget that. 8:50 You need them, cuz things are gonna die. 8:51 We got rechargables cuz it made sense. 8:53 At the end of the day, we plugged them into the hotel walls, 8:55 we were good to go the next day. 8:57 You need a power strip. 8:58 One of the most uncomfortable questions that you 8:59 can ask someone in their own private home is, where's an outlet? 9:01 [LAUGH] And then you need coffee, you need caffeine, 9:03 you need that energy that keeps you going. 9:06 Today, it's a little bit easier because you really just need these things. 9:08 You're still using some devices, but that wall's not there. 9:13 Evernote is fantastic, especially for team collaboration, 9:16 it really aids with synthesis and analysis. 9:19 And then just your phones, it cuts the number of devices that you need. 9:21 There's other things you can use too. 9:26 Because by using things like analytics and heat maps and surveys, 9:28 you go into a field study better prepared and with better questions. 9:33 I can't stress enough how hard it is to ask a good question in a field study, 9:39 because you have to kind of get through a lot of basic information before you can 9:43 get to the meat of the subject. 9:47 Doing things like web analytics and surveys and stuff like that, 9:49 allows you to cut through that in a little bit quicker fashion. 9:52 There's other things you can do. 9:55 You can look at, what are the words that people use? 9:56 So some content analysis. 9:59 What's the language that you need to use so you can connect to someone? 10:01 At a personal level. 10:04 You can look at traffic funnels. 10:06 So why are people buying things over other things? 10:08 And then you really dive into the behavior and the lifestyle that would dictate that. 10:10 And I'm doing some unmoderated usability testing. 10:15 Again, all these things kinda queue you up to asking better questions. 10:17 And that's the golden ticket when it comes to field studies. 10:20 So what happens in the future? 10:24 That's the tricky question. 10:26 When I was talking about this session with the organizers, 10:27 they're like, well how would you do field studies in the future? 10:32 And I said, you do field studies, you go out and talk to people. 10:35 That's not really gonna change. 10:39 How we do it might change, with video cameras and all that kinda stuff, but, but 10:40 that got me thinking. 10:43 Today we have a lot of tools that allow us to ask better questions. 10:45 What are some things that are coming up that when they're in place, 10:48 allows us to ask even better questions than we have today? 10:51 So there's these things, wearables are, wearables are weird 10:55 squirrely place right now, because no one really knows what to do them. 10:58 You've seen all the people with the jokes were 11:01 they've got wearables all the way up their sleeves, and 11:03 they all do the same thing but slightly different, and people love them. 11:04 With wearables, though, it gives you a lot of biometrics. 11:08 This world of sensors that we fall into, allow us to go into situations where we 11:11 need to talk to someone, and again, get to that point very quickly. 11:14 And you can talk to them on their level, 11:17 because you've already connected with them in some fashion. 11:18 You already know what some of their key behaviors are. 11:20 A friend of mine at South By Southwest this last year, 11:24 he was wearing a Narrative. 11:27 It was probably one of the first times I saw a Narrative out in the wild. 11:28 And it was confusing. 11:30 These are devices that you kind of hold, much like this microphone, 11:33 and it takes a picture every 30 seconds. 11:35 And then you upload it at the end of the day, and 11:39 then you can kind of see the visual representation of what your life is. 11:40 This could be the future of diaries. 11:43 You know, user diaries are valuable things, but 11:45 they're very hard to analyze and go through. 11:47 If I can do this in a visual-like format, I can watch a person's 11:49 day in like two minutes, I get a lot of really interesting information that way. 11:52 Beacons. Beacons was talked about again by 11:57 Scott the other day, or yesterday in his talk. 11:59 This idea of this telemetry information about the devices, about ourselves, again, 12:02 that just gives us already insight into what's going on in the real world, so 12:06 when we get out there, we can be a little bit more contextual with our questions. 12:09 And there's other stuff. 12:14 I mentioned diaries a little bit. 12:15 This geocaching concept. 12:16 Followance. 12:17 Allowing someone to opt in, so you can follow them, shadow them remotely 12:18 which is kind of weird but totally possible now in technology. 12:22 And things like health kit and 12:26 home kit, they open up these worlds of possibility again. 12:27 Constantly looking into the world of our users and 12:32 to the people that we design for. 12:34 So that when we do need to talk to them it's just a more meaningful conversation. 12:36 So that's my spiel about field studies and why I think their fun and awesome and 12:40 where they might go. 12:44 Now let's talk about some of these stories that come from my past. 12:45 Again, to set the context, they come from two main projects. 12:52 One was to understand how people plan for retirement, or 12:55 what they do with their finances. 12:59 And the other one dealt with people that were either going through cancer, 13:00 had recovered, or took care of someone like a loved one that had cancer. 13:04 So that's where a lot of these stories kind of fall into. 13:08 So, this first story what I call what's lost is now gone. 13:11 This lady lives in Atlanta. 13:16 She was a wonderful woman, Harvard Law grad, 13:18 top partner at one of the prestigious law firms in Atlanta. 13:24 And one day she kind of, she came to work and 13:27 she was just really tired, she didn't know why. 13:32 And she eventually, this happened enough that she went to the doctor. 13:35 It turns out her body stopped making a certain chemical. 13:38 And mental fatigueness, like walking up a flight of stairs, she's just gone, 13:41 she's completely spent for the whole day. 13:46 But cognitively she was still there. 13:47 She was still this amazing lawyer and amazing smart person. 13:50 She just has no energy to do it anymore. 13:54 And so it got to the point where she had to retire very early. 13:57 Luckily because of her partner as well as just her professional life, 14:00 she was well off, but 14:04 she still had to be very careful with her funds, cuz this was for retirement. 14:05 But she also just got really exhausted thinking about this stuff. 14:10 We started learning a little bit more about her life and 14:13 how she kinda copes with this things, and 14:15 one of the the things that she loves doing was to grow orchids. 14:17 She would grow orchids in a greenhouse in her backyard, and she'd sell them online. 14:20 She didn't make a lot of money off of them, but 14:23 it was something that she loved to do. 14:25 And she confessed to us that she's gonna have to stop doing this. 14:26 The walk down to the greenhouse was just too much for her now. 14:30 And again, the heartbreaking aspect of this wonderful woman was that up here 14:34 everything was fine. 14:39 She still had every. 14:40 She still had all the knowledge, all the experience that she could. 14:41 She just couldn't do anything with them, 14:44 because her body was basically betraying her. 14:45 What we learned, what I learned personally and professionally from this woman, 14:48 was it's really important to engage with the participant. 14:53 Especially, when ever there's things going on that might put up barriers to that 14:56 engagement. 15:00 With her, it was her illness, this sense of cognitive fatigue. 15:01 We would have to figure out when we could ask questions and 15:04 when we had to scale back and just kind of hang out with her. 15:07 These sessions were two hours long so we had kind of plenty of time. 15:09 But it was very important because then she started opening up with us and 15:11 we learned really important things about how she thought about her finances but 15:15 then also her life as well. 15:18 The other thing I learned, was it's really important to kinda follow their story. 15:21 She had a beginning a middle and an end, we were talking to her sadly at the end 15:25 part of it, but she broke it down for us everywhere. 15:29 She told us how she got started in law. 15:32 When she went to DC, now she came back to Atlanta, and how she met her husband and 15:34 all this kind of stuff and 15:38 we just kinda sat back and basically didn't say anything. 15:39 And that's one of the hardest things to do when your reviewing field studies, 15:42 is knowing when to keep your mouth shut and just let people just go on talking. 15:44 It also taught us not to lose focus. 15:50 Because we had to take so many breaks and we had to pause and 15:53 we had to let her kind of mentally rest before we could move on to things. 15:56 It was really easy to find a lot of rabbit holes to talk about. 15:59 And we learned certain mechanisms in place that say, 16:02 no no no, let's get back on track here. 16:04 And if, one of the common like work products 16:08 of a field study is the interview guide. 16:11 So these are the types of questions we want to ask, and 16:13 this becomes invaluable in situations like this, because you always have something 16:15 you can go back to to figure out what you need to talk about. 16:18 Here's another sad one. 16:22 I promise there's gonna be happy ones later on. 16:26 I get you down and then I bring you back up. 16:28 So this one, this was saved by my best friend. 16:30 Another lady in the Atlanta region, different project, and 16:32 this was the cancer project. 16:36 She had a very rare form of breast cancer. 16:39 And it was, and it's not one of the ones that is easily treatable and 16:42 has pretty low mortality rate associated with it. 16:45 And she was a woman that was pretty well off, you know financially, 16:49 you know life wise and stuff like that. 16:52 She had this gorgeous house. 16:54 You walk into her living room and 16:54 the wall is just glass, looking out into this wonderful garden, it was fantastic. 16:56 She had these wonderful dogs too. 17:00 I'm a dog person, so any time someone has dogs, like, oh, I'm sorry. 17:02 No, it's fine. 17:05 I'll just play with him. 17:06 And we start talking about it, and we talk a little bit about how she finds support 17:08 going through this time in her life, and 17:13 we really wanted to know how she used the computer to do this. 17:16 And she took us into her kitchen, 17:18 down this hallway almost to the garage of house, she opens this little, like, 17:20 pantry door, and there's this little computer inside of it. 17:24 And it was fascinating because in this wonderful home where she's got 17:27 this nice library, this nice view, 17:30 this weird device she has purposely put in this really small location in her home. 17:32 And that's how she viewed technology. 17:36 It was eye-opening to us, because our job for 17:38 this project was to create this social network of support for people with cancer. 17:41 Like so how do I convince this lady like this who doesn't want this device 17:44 in her house? 17:47 Clearly doesn't want it, but 17:48 she has to have it, engage in something electronically. 17:49 So again, we start talking about how she finds support and stuff like that. 17:52 And she starts talking about her dogs. 17:56 Her dogs are huge support for her going through this time. 17:57 And then she told us that one of her dogs has cancer itself and isn't doing well. 18:00 And we said, oh we're sorry, and she goes no, it's okay, it's okay. 18:05 Because the way I see it is, 18:09 she's taken some of the cancer form me cuz she's trying to save me. 18:11 And this story's always really hard because I know probably now, 18:15 neither one of those, the woman or the dog, are probably here anymore. 18:19 But that story just always stuck with me, 18:22 because we were there to try to figure out how people find support. 18:25 And she did it not in any type of technical way, 18:28 nuy with the companionship with her dogs. 18:30 So this taught us very, very important lessons at an emotional level. 18:33 These people's stories just hit you in the gut, and 18:38 you gotta find ways to kind of get up. 18:42 You've gotta find ways to process those emotions yourselves. 18:45 And we can't do it during the session. 18:50 It's weird because when you walk into these rooms, you're the researcher, 18:53 you're the person asking questions and you need to kind of have a little 18:55 Barriers up yourself, because you have to play this role of a researcher. 19:00 Like if you break down and you connect with person really on a personal level in 19:03 that room, you've kind of crossed this line that's really hard to go back to 19:07 because you're no longer a researcher you're a participant in the experience. 19:11 And so you've got to find ways to kind of bottle it up so you can still ask 19:15 the questions that you need to ask, learn the information that you need to learn. 19:18 And then either at the end of the session or whenever you've already left, 19:21 that's when you can process those emotions and those feelings. 19:23 Because at the end of the day, you have a job to do, 19:27 which is to collect information so that you can do really cool stuff with it. 19:29 And you just have to know how to deal with that, those emotions. 19:33 They do haunt you, like I said. 19:37 Today, It still breaks my heart thinking about this woman because she was 19:38 a wonderful woman, dogs were great, and it just, it's yeah. 19:42 [LAUGH] They also overshadow. 19:45 When you're dealing with other sessions, especially back to back, 19:51 to back to back, you come off of one like this, and it's really hard 19:54 to go to the next one with a positive outlook, with a positive energy. 19:57 And so again this compartmentalization of the emotions is really important. 20:01 Cuz it sounds like you're not being very human, but you're being professional and 20:05 so there's a balance there. 20:09 This slide doesn't belong here. 20:13 I apologize. 20:14 [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] 20:15 >> So this is a presentation with multiple 20:19 stories, and depending on the context, 20:20 I include stories that aren't supposed to be here. 20:22 Again, I apologize. 20:24 So let's talk about one that's a little more fun, little more upbeat, sort of. 20:25 So this Joker of Warp. 20:28 This guy he was a bachelor in, all these stories happen in Atlanta, 20:30 I don't know why. 20:34 [LAUGH] What's there about Atlanta? 20:35 But he was in his mid to late 20s at the time. 20:36 And he was weird, this was like his sixth career. 20:39 I'm like, how can you be 28 and be on your sixth career? 20:43 And he'd gone to school for financing, he had a really well put-together 20:45 IRA already, where he's like I'm kind of set if I just leave this alone for 20:49 30 years, and he's a now construction guy, 20:53 he just does construction cuz that's what he's interested in right now. 20:55 One thing we learned about him though was that he was a collector. 21:00 And so it was really interesting. 21:04 He lived in this bachelor pad with a buddy of him but he had all these weird things. 21:06 He had like four motorcycles cuz he said, 21:08 well yeah I just went into this motorcycle kick and I bought a bunch of motorcycles. 21:11 Like oh, that's interesting. 21:14 What do you collect now? 21:16 Oh, assault rifles. 21:18 I'm like what? 21:19 He goes yeah, I've got about four of them. 21:20 I just keep them. I don't necessarily go out and 21:21 shoot them or something, but I like them and I buy them. 21:23 And so we struck this really, 21:24 really friendly kinda buddy-buddy relationship with him. 21:26 And one thing we did for this project, which I don't recommend generally, 21:30 is at the end of each session we video recorded someone doing a testimony back to 21:35 the client about their experience being customer or user. 21:38 Generally speaking it's good but there's some risk associated with like this. 21:42 This is a situation where good intentions result in bad experiences. 21:47 We told him, let's go get one of your assault rifles and 21:53 you can do this video with your assault rifle in your hand. 21:55 He's goes, that sounds great. 21:57 So he runs to this room, he gets it, he comes back out. 21:58 Again, this is a bachelor pad with two or 22:00 three guys living in it, they had one of those punch dummies standing next to him. 22:01 He just accidentally stands next to it. 22:06 This punch dummy just also happened to have a towel that one of his buddies had 22:09 thrown over it, and just kinda wrapped his head almost like an Arab head dress. 22:14 And so we take this video of a guy holding an assault rifle, 22:19 talking about how great he loves working with this client. 22:22 In the background there's this offensive kind of view. 22:25 We looked at it, like 30 seconds after we left, and we were like, oh crap, 22:28 what did we do? 22:31 And so we erased it immediately, because this is one those things that can't get 22:32 out because it makes the client look, and there's so many liability. 22:35 But, [LAUGH] reflection what it teaches me is, don't get too friendly with people. 22:39 Just like with that previous example where you want to be that emotional support for 22:45 that person, you can't be the buddy, you can't be the friend, 22:49 you have to keep that researcher kind of line in place. 22:51 Now when the sessions are over and you're leaving and stuff like that and you're 22:54 saying, hey where do you think we should go to get a drink or have dinner tonight, 22:58 that's different because you're no longer in a information gathering sense. 23:00 You're in almost like a personal sense. 23:04 I cannot help to just remain professional. 23:08 The idea [LAUGH] looking back of suggesting to someone, 23:11 regardless of what was in the background, hey let's go get your assault rifle and 23:14 we'll take a video with that is just dumb. 23:17 We should've never done that. 23:18 [LAUGH] However, people like that are important because they help ground you. 23:20 Whenever you come off these sessions where there's very, very deep emotions that you 23:27 have, you get these sessions that are fun and you are reminded why you do this. 23:32 And it also kinda balances just the scales over all. 23:36 [COUGH] So another fun story. 23:41 This one appropriately titled Thistles and Porn. 23:43 We met this gentleman. 23:48 And we pull up to his driveway and before we even get out of the car, he goes, 23:50 you're gonna wanna lock your doors, this is not a very good neighborhood. 23:53 I'm like okay, well thanks for the advice, we do that. 23:56 We go inside and he's got all these devices all over his house. 23:59 All these weird things. 24:02 And we learned that he buys things off of what is basically like SkyMall but 24:04 just not SkyMall. 24:09 And he buys these devices and he swears by them. 24:11 One of them was an air ionizer that cleans the air. 24:14 He goes, one of these will take all the bad stuff out of the air and 24:16 just keep the air in your house clean. 24:20 He like, I've got four of them. 24:21 [LAUGH] You just said you need one. 24:22 But he's got four of them. 24:25 He tries like giving us the magazines, buy these things, and so 24:27 we learn that, he likes to get on these ideas and he just fixates on them. 24:30 This became really important when we started 24:35 talking about his retirement funds. 24:36 So he worked for Ford, and 24:38 something that someone taught him years ago was how to handle his 401K, 24:40 which was put every single last dime that you have in your 401k into Ford stock. 24:44 Wait for it to go up a quarter, and then sell it all. 24:52 Wait for it to drop $0.50, buy it all again, wait for it to go up a quarter, and 24:55 so he did this cycle. 24:58 And I'm like, [SOUND]. 25:00 Just one bad day and unlucky, you're done. 25:03 But this is how he did it, he loved to do it. 25:06 And it was because someone taught him to do it. 25:08 And so there's this sense of gullibility about him and that sounds judgmental, but 25:09 it was his behavior. 25:13 And so we get to this point and we're like, 25:15 we really wanna see how he does this. 25:17 How does he manage all this Ford stock, cuz he uses a mix of spreadsheets and 25:18 the portfolio tools and stuff. 25:21 So we go down to his basement, it's his man cave. 25:23 Sports, TV, his office is off to the left. 25:26 We go into his office, we're sitting down and he's going through, and 25:28 the facilitator's working, I was doing notes on this one. 25:32 And I do my thing, which is look around the environment. 25:34 In the corner over here is a stack of Playboys, with a pistol, like a Glock, 25:37 just sitting right on top of it. 25:41 And I was like, oh, okay. 25:43 And automatically, this became a not safe environment necessarily. 25:46 Not because this guy was ever going to do anything to us, but 25:49 now there's a firearm in the room. 25:51 The fact that it was on a bunch of porn was just weird, but I can get past that. 25:55 It was more like, okay, we need to kind of wrap this up and 25:59 leave just because this is just odd, this is turned into an unsafe environment. 26:01 So these lessons they taught me, which was things can get shocking. 26:06 That unpredictability, like people do odd things, 26:10 you have to know how you gonna react with them kind of in predictable ways. 26:14 So if something becomes unsafe, what's your exit, how you gonna leave? 26:18 In a safe, professional, kind way. 26:23 Because a certain way, you're representing either your company or your client and 26:26 you don't necessarily want to damage that relationship with the end person. 26:30 My solution was to just keep cool. 26:37 Pretend that weird thing just isn't over, let's wrap up the questions and 26:40 then get out. 26:43 There was another lady where we had got to the end of the session and 26:45 we asked the question, do you have any questions for us? 26:51 That's always a really important question to ask at the end of the session. 26:54 Do you have any questions for us? 26:56 Because they want to maybe know how their information is going to be used, or 26:58 whatever and you can do a lot of things to relieve them. 27:00 And just judgmental free zone, but it was like, 27:02 have you accepted the Lord Jesus Savior in your heart? 27:06 And it's just regardless of how we respond to this, 27:10 this is a very odd kind of question to have in someone's home in the mountains of 27:14 Denver where you're an hour away from the city. 27:19 So we kind of said well, we approached it kind of professionally and said, 27:24 well [SOUND] and said, well it's time to go. 27:28 >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] It gets better. 27:31 We're halfway back to Denver and we're like where's the audio recorder? 27:34 Crap, so we had to turn around [LAUGH] and go back and pick it up. 27:40 And we hadn't turned it off either so it's still recording and whatever, 27:42 they're talking about us after we left so it was kind of interesting. 27:47 So one of the final stories is, Don't Poison Me Bro! 27:51 And this is going back to the cancer patient. 27:54 And this is where, this lady, she was a cancer survivor. 27:56 She's got all this strength and 28:00 she's a huge supporter of people that have cancer that need support. 28:01 She volunteers her time, she reaches out, she helps people, she lifts them up, 28:04 and she gives them a lot of bad advice because 28:08 her approach to care was to be combative with her doctors. 28:13 Every medical procedure that they suggested, 28:17 she's like no that's going to kill me. 28:19 With from something like radiation and chemo, which yes those are very dangerous 28:21 treatments but there's some of the best ones we have in some cases. 28:25 And she told us stories and she was kind of almost proud of it, where the doctor 28:28 almost kicked her out of the office, well not really kicked her out of the office, 28:31 but just refused to basically care for her anymore or 28:35 wanted to transfer her to another physician because they just couldn't have 28:37 an actual conversation anymore, she was too combative. 28:41 And at the whole time, kind of going back to some of the other stories, previously. 28:43 The key lessons that I learned from dealing with some of these people is, 28:49 being non-judgmental. 28:52 These people they have been on a journey, they have their story. 28:54 They have their own experiences, and 28:57 that's dictated certain aspects of their life. 28:59 It's not up to me to make any type of judgement about that. 29:01 But the reason why we're talking to them is because they fit a certain criteria 29:05 when we were recruiting people. 29:09 That means they represent other people that are like that. 29:11 And so then from a design point of view, how can I put solutions in place, 29:15 how can I put interactions, how can I put experiences in place, that well yes, 29:18 I may not agree with their approach to things, they still need help, 29:22 they still need support, and then you kind of help them out with that work. 29:26 The other thing I learned about is body language. 29:30 I'm a bit of a body language nerd so 29:33 don't let that freak you out if we have a personal conversation, I promise [LAUGH]. 29:35 But I learned how important it is by doing these sessions because I could figure 29:41 out when someones about to open up to me versus when someones not going to open 29:45 up to me. 29:49 Or giving them things to do that kind of tricked them into opening up themselves. 29:49 We interviewed, one man, who before we got into the door, he's like no cameras, 29:54 no recording, no nothing. 29:58 We're like no problem sir, we took that little box that I mentioned, 30:00 we put it back in the car so he could see we didn't have it, 30:02 and we went back in with just our notepads. 30:04 Of course of the conversation We learned that he was part of the Nixon 30:06 administration, and so this whole kind of thing of no 30:10 recordings was a very huge component of his life now because of his experience. 30:13 But he was also very closed off the whole time. 30:17 And it was weird because we would get on topics that he would get excited about 30:20 because he remodeled homes in his retirement. 30:23 That was his hobby. 30:25 He remodeled homes, and he'd get excited. 30:26 He'd open up and talk to us. 30:28 And then there's something in his brain saying, 30:29 I'm giving them too much information, and he would just close back off. 30:30 The other thing is don't be afraid to leave 30:35 when things get kind of squirrelly, as I mentioned. 30:36 The final takeaway from a lot of these stories is 30:38 that you cannot prepare enough for these sessions. 30:42 Knowing how you're gonna react to situations, 30:46 how you're gonna react to certain scenarios. 30:47 But you have to be willing to adapt. 30:49 Everything's gonna be a little different and you've gotta be flexible and 30:50 quick on your feet. 30:52 And then just survive them, however it is that you need to. 30:54 Again, some people listen to music, some people meditate, 30:57 whatever you need to do to kinda process some of those emotions that kinda come up. 30:59 But also know that you learn personal blessings from doing this as well. 31:03 Like me, how I approach some of my finances, from a retirement point of view, 31:07 I learned by studying all these people that did retirement, and I'm 32. 31:10 And I learned that most 32-year-old people don't think about retirement at all. 31:14 So what are some general takeaways as we wrap up? 31:17 It's vitally important that you're on time, 31:25 especially when you're going into someone's home, 31:26 because they are giving you a gift of their time, of their attention, 31:28 of their story and they're also inviting you into their personal space. 31:31 Why on-time is in quotes is, 31:35 as my dad would say, if you're five minutes early, you're late. 31:37 So be there early. 31:41 Sit there in the driveway. 31:42 But do not walk up to that door until it's 11 o'clock, 31:44 because then you can process things in your head. 31:47 You can review their notes, who they are, 31:50 so you can just be ready to go as soon as you knock on that door. 31:52 Buddy system, buddy system, buddy system. 31:57 Never go alone. 31:59 This is a safety and comfort thing. 32:01 You are going into people's private places, and 32:03 that's a scary thing for you sometimes. 32:07 Like in a situation where like, we're in unsafe neighborhood. 32:10 There's a flip side of this though, which is if two people come into someone's home, 32:13 that person is more comfortable than if one person comes in their home. 32:17 So your buddy acts as your guardian and their guardian as well. 32:20 Try to humanize yourself as much as possible, especially beforehand. 32:26 So I've got this little technique that I like to use, 32:29 which is sending a welcome kit. 32:31 So it typically arrives in the mail couple days before our 32:33 session is supposed to happen. 32:36 And it includes pictures of who we are, our contact information, 32:37 any information that's important about the project, and then contact information for 32:42 our client of someone external to us. 32:45 This allows people to call and say, hey, Brad's coming tomorrow, 32:47 does he really represent you? 32:50 They know why you're here. 32:52 They know how to look you up if they need to. 32:53 And the pictures is weird because 32:55 scheduling sometimes doesn't work out perfectly. 32:59 So in some of the stories we have it was suppose to be Nathan and Kate. 33:02 Well, Kate couldn't travel that week so I traveled instead. 33:06 We get to the door, someone goes, you're not Kate. 33:09 I'm like, I'm sorry, we sent that out beforehand and schedules, but it's billed. 33:12 They know who you are, they see your face and they can already make some of 33:17 their own kind of pre-judgmental decisions about how kind of person you are, 33:20 which is perfect, because they are thinking of you as a person. 33:24 Take the water, people. 33:27 There's this kinda guest-host relationship that kinda comes into play, and you have 33:31 to respect that, especially when you're dealing with sometimes other cultures. 33:35 I think of the scene in Men In Black, whenever they sit in the lady's and 33:38 they're given the lemonade, and it's so sweet that Will Smith won't drink it. 33:42 But Tommy Lee Jones keeps on doing it. 33:46 It's because he's trying to make that connection and 33:47 not feel like a stranger in this person's home. 33:49 They are just as scared as you are. 33:53 You're gonna be asking weird questions. 33:55 You're gonna be asking very personal questions, and that's never comfortable. 33:56 But they're just as scared because they're inviting 34:00 weird people into their homes that want to learn about them. 34:03 Now that has a benefit to it, because you're never gonna see them ever again, 34:05 and they're never gonna see you ever again. 34:09 And so sometimes what happens is they tell you things that they 34:10 would never tell anyone else. 34:13 We just had a yard sale last weekend and the lady walked up and 34:15 she bought all these little girl clothes, because the little girl outgrown them. 34:17 We were the third person she told that she's having a girl, just because of that. 34:21 And we're like, well that's kinda neat information. 34:25 Be 100% honest. 34:27 This sounds common sense, but if it ever feels like in a situation where someone 34:29 asked me that like awkward question about religion, just be honest, 34:34 or be honest but vague. 34:39 Because it's better than being lying or trying to avoid him. 34:41 Because if you avoid, it's a conflict response, as opposed to yes, 34:44 I understand what you're trying to say. 34:48 Let's just kind of acknowledge it and move on. 34:50 Don't cry over spilled milk. 34:54 You're gonna make mistakes. 34:56 Even as many studies as I do, I always make mistakes, just cuz I'm human. 34:58 For the most part, 35:02 you're gonna be the only one who knows you did it, which is fine. 35:04 [LAUGH] So just kind of accept it, learn from it, do a presentation like this. 35:06 And then kind of incorporate that into your process in the future. 35:12 When it's time to leave, leave. 35:17 These are very, very interesting situations and contexts where you 35:20 immediately want to talk with your partner in crime and say, what did we learn? 35:24 What were the key points? 35:27 What was so fascinating about this person? 35:29 And you want to do that right away. 35:31 Just don't do it in the driveway. 35:32 Just get in the car and drive two blocks down and then do it. 35:33 Just make sure that they feel that you've left. 35:36 [COUGH] You 35:41 find treasures when you do these things, in the results that come out of them. 35:48 And so in the retirement example, 35:54 we wanted to create personas of how people react with their retirement. 35:55 And we came across, that we would have never learnt about this 35:59 thing what we ended up calling a transient persona. 36:02 So people, at least in our context university fell into three main buckets. 36:06 Well off, doing okay, in dire straits. 36:09 But there's these life events that push you either up or down. 36:14 And that doesn't dictate the rest of your life but 36:19 it dictates the next six months to a year of your life perhaps. 36:22 And we found that behaviors made a huge shift whenever they were in these 36:25 subchannels. 36:29 And depending on how they reacted or what kind of support they got, so 36:30 if you were doing okay, they either dropped down to no longer doing okay, 36:33 dire straits, really financially messed up. 36:36 Or they got the support and they came back to being okay, or 36:39 they even ended up doing better. 36:42 The client loved this concept because they were trying to 36:45 figure out how do they outreach, how do they better connect with their customers? 36:50 They have all this data on their customers' financials. 36:54 And there's triggers that show you when someone's having one of these transient 36:58 periods, either they've come into a lot of money or they're losing a lot of money. 37:01 So these are triggers that can be flipped systematically that allows them to jump in 37:05 and say you just got $200,000. 37:10 Let's take 100,000 of that and put it here so that in ten years you're up here now. 37:12 Or you're starting to take a lot of hardship withdrawals. 37:19 What's going on, how can we help you? 37:22 And these are the treasures that the field studies gave us. 37:25 We would never have figured this out if we had just done some workshops inside of 37:27 a board room and just talked to some suits, even though I love suits [LAUGH]. 37:31 Like I said, 37:37 without doing these you just keep on going the way that things have always been done. 37:40 I believe you were the one that was telling me the hamburger icon, 37:43 because everybody uses it cuz Facebook uses it. 37:46 And it's like but whenever someone stopped and studied it, it just didn't work, 37:48 and so people are now starting to not do that. 37:53 So kind of in closing, like I said, these differ a lot from usability studies and 37:57 surveys and a lot of other traditional research methods, because those do 38:03 a wonderful, wonderful job of telling you what and how and a little bit of why. 38:06 But field studies give you the complete why. 38:11 Why do people do the things that they do, and how does that impact their lives? 38:13 And then how does any product or 38:16 service that you have impact that in a positive or negative way? 38:19 [SOUND] Some final thoughts and notes for you to take pictures of maybe. 38:25 [LAUGH] Learn as much about the people as you can. 38:29 Ahh, see? 38:32 This is what happens when you don't know about your transitions. 38:34 Learn about as much as you can about people before going out in the field. 38:37 If you're using like a third party recruiting firm, 38:41 they give you data sheets of who they've recruited. 38:45 Pore over them. 38:48 If you feel like being slightly creepy nowadays, get on Facebook and 38:50 those types of things. 38:53 There's some ethical lines there, but the more you can come to it with already 38:54 knowing something about that person and you can make that human connection faster. 38:59 The sooner you can start asking the questions that really matter, 39:02 because like I said, there's a flow to questions. 39:04 There's the simple questions, there's a little bit personal questions, and 39:07 then there's the meat questions. 39:10 You jump straight to the meat questions, the answers are gonna be shallow and 39:11 people are gonna be defensive. 39:14 Collect their stories and 39:17 experiences because you never know how you can use them. 39:18 That's something that I've learned by reading up on Brian Grazer recently. 39:20 He does these curiosity conversations, where he meets with someone 39:24 new every week or two that is outside of the film industry. 39:27 And he just talks with them, he learns from them. 39:31 And because he's done this, the movies that he's produced, like Apollo 13, 39:33 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Forrest Gump, all these other ones, 39:38 those stories helped him produce those movies in very interesting ways. 39:42 Develop relationships that impact you both personally and professionally. 39:47 If they're professional, it's much more easy to make 39:50 recommendations about what changes need to be made. 39:54 If they're personal, they teach you a little bit about yourself,. 39:57 Like me with my retirement plan and stuff like that. 39:59 I would not know how to handle my retirement right now, if it wasn't for 40:02 studying other people. 40:05 And then confront your misconceptions just head on. 40:07 You know whenever you're planning a study, you list out all these assumptions and 40:10 all these hypotheses that you think about this is how the world works and 40:14 this is how we think people behave. 40:17 Just kick it in the knees and just go right into it. 40:20 Figure out how is this wrong? 40:23 Show me that people don't do it this way, cuz you'll find surprises. 40:24 Even if they do it that way, 40:28 they're gonna do it in a way that you probably didn't expect it. 40:29 So a little about me. 40:33 I'm UX designer out of Saint Louis, 40:35 these are the places on the Internets that you can find me. 40:37 I co-authored a book a couple years ago called Designing the Conversation. 40:39 I think it's kinda cool, you can check it out if you want. 40:43 And I'll take any questions or comments. 40:46 [MUSIC] 40:48
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