Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (TriUXPA)

Research on the Quick

28 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

By Michael Gowan
Continuing a series of posts on redesigning a section of a Web site (see first post).
Since we’re talking about user-centered design, getting user input into a project at the beginning seems pretty important. But conducting interviews at the beginning of a project is often the first stepped dropped when deadlines get crunched.
On this project, I had planned to run an online survey and conduct follow up interviews with some respondents. But after entering that into my project schedule I ended up with a January 2007 launch date. That wasn’t going to fly -- I needed to have an outlet for new content no later than November 2006.

So I looked for other forms of user input that I already had on hand. Sacrilege, perhaps, for the readers of this blog. But with a little effort, I found enough to provide a user voice in defining the requirements.

First I looked at previous research that we had performed. Earlier this year we conducted some pretty extensive focus group and user testing work around what existing patients and prospective patients wanted from our site. A portion of this testing was dedicated to the health library. Bingo.

We’d conducted user testing during our Service section redesign that covered, indirectly, user needs in the health library. We had found how users interacted with the library when seeking information about treatments. It was enough to piece together a user task.

I also turned to the Web for other published research. The Pew Internet & American Life project has some specific health related research that provided high-level user needs. Paired with our own existing research, I started to get a good picture of what our users would want.

Other sources of external research included Jupiter and Forrester.

What quick methods have you used for getting user input before writing requirements? Post in the comments section to let me know.

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