Know Your User, Recruit Smart!

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Don Norman once said that if there is any principle that is sacred to those in the field of user-interface design and human computer interaction, it is ‘know your user.’ This sort of mantra for what is commonly known as User Experience (UX) Design has guided the field for decades. UX methods are mostly all centered around aligning the needs of the user with the capabilities or features of a product. Where defining the business requirements and constraints come from the business side, defining the user requirements and constraints comes from the UX side. And so, the wheels keep on turning.

So naturally the question becomes- how do we understand the user? Again, it typically depends on the nature of the project. There are many books out in the world that do a pretty good job of breaking down user research methods into specific categories. Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin and Bruce Hannington is a good example. Neilson Norman Group also outlines the different user research methods quite well. But what I think one of the big take-aways from this piece is- base your recruiting around your research questions and hypotheses, or, don’t recruit blindly.

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At Balance we make sure that our samples are balanced based upon behavioral and attitudinal segments. This manifests itself as a wholesome sample of research participants that are aligned with the purpose of our research. We arrive at these segments based upon the characteristics of the product we are designing and the people who will be using it- sometimes going to far as to test two or three user groups in the same research project.

Check out Nick's Medium article, Know Your User which breaks down user research methods and recruiting needs. This includes a summary of the Behavioral and Attitudinal segments that Balance recruits by, as well as an overview of Qualitative and Quantitative data, and Generative, Exploratory and Evaluative research methods.