Trusting The Fence

When I was a child in India riding pillion on a scooter or motorcycle behind my dad or older brother, I would constantly be peeking over their shoulders braving the winds to get a view of what was coming up ahead.  These peeks let me understand what was happening giving me trust in how my  dad or brother was reacting to the conditions and making me feel safe.

This memory makes me think about what autonomous systems we trust today in comparison to the distrust that surrounds autonomous vehicles.  We trust automated systems which do not have an operator on a day to day basis including trains, streetcars, shuttles, escalators, elevators, and so on.

We also get into taxis, Ubers or carpools with friends without any trust issues.  In these cases we not only get to see how the driver is driving and generally responding to the vehicle’s environment, we also get to “see” the operational domain – where the car is, where it’s going, and the general path it is driving on.

How does the geo-fence – the operational design domain of the vehicle – apply in these scenarios and engender our trust?

For the train , it is the tracks and the location of the stations.  For a motorcycle, it is the road ahead. The tighter the geo-fence – and the rider’s knowledge of it, the easier it is to create trust.  In the case of the train, the bi-directionality of the train tracks makes it easy to trust.  There are only two directions it can go.  Plus, this geofence environment is naturally constrained and largely protected from outside variables.  For instance, there is no overtaking and passing involved as you would see in highway driving.

When we think about AVs, the clearer the rider’s knowledge of the geofence is, the more they will trust the system.

Automated vehicle designers are applying a two-pronged approach to create trust in these systems:

  • Start with a well-defined geo-fences. At a systemic level, creating geofences that are easily understood and definable, creates an entry point for users to build trust in AVs.   Creating smart corridors in the interstate freeway system for AVs to operate within.  Clear geo-fence boundaries will make people more inclined to trust them.

A great example is Waymo One, the driverless ride hailing platform available to the public in Phoenix, AZ. Riders who sign up to the platform are pre-screened before they can start requesting and using rides based on the zip-code they live in. Essentially only riders living within the geo-fence can use the service at the moment.  (Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/11/01/hailing-a-driverless-ride-in-a-waymo/).

Another example of a geo-fence is how DJI designates “no-fly” zones for its drones near airports. This is more important now with DJI drones having more automated features which let the drone pilot draw a path which the drone can then follow on its own.

  • At the vehicular level, incorporating design that can help riders understand and perceive the vehicle’s interaction with the geofence to learn and accept he automation’s performance. This can include:
    • Displays that clearly show what the car is not only seeing and perceiving but also, importantly, what it will do. This image of Waymo’s information screen shows passengers exactly what path (or fence) the vehicle will follow – even though passengers do not need navigation in a car they are not driving.

  • Designing operations to replicate human behaviors and actions – for instance, creating a turning experience that feels “right” to driver/passenger
  • Voice technology to keep riders informed and engaged with what is coming next.

Creating trust in AVs will be accelerated by designing automated systems from a collaborative POV thinking of the rider and the system as “co-pilots” in the experience with clear geofence definition, design and technology that inform and empower riders and onboarding/education  initiatives to will build understanding and knowledge in automated systems.

Contributed by Shasank Nagavarapu, Senior Associate, Human Centered Design

Reflections On Conducting Research During a Pandemic

Research is interesting, difficult, and important, but I would never want to do it myself.  I enjoy my role in the process though as Lextant’s Technical Specialist.  My  job is to support the research staff in many ways, technology being the biggest of them. I love a good technical challenge. Some of our clients relish telling me their list of borderline insane demands thinking “THIS time I’ve got him!” to which I usually reply something like “oh man…this might be the one.” We always figure it out though. There’s almost no setup that can’t be accomplished through the proper mix and application of ingenuity and funding.

I am a millennial. I have been through some adversity in my life. 9/11, Recession one, Recession two, Global Pandemic to name a few. Covid-19 is just another world thing that we all must deal with. Eventually, it will be a blip on my radar of life.  But for the foreseeable future the virus is challenging us to find innovative ways to continue doing the work we do.

Research & The Mask

Whether or not you value the evidence of the effectiveness of masks, it’s pretty widely accepted that they are uncomfortable and under normal circumstances, people would prefer to not wear one.  We’ve worked hard to adapt our processes to accommodate our participants’ needs for comfort and safety.  Here’s an experience I had during a recent study with the participant in one room, the moderator in the observation room with control of the participants computer and camera views.

The participant enters the study room. They approach the table they were prepared to see. There is a computer, a tablet and some laminated sheets. “hello!, thank you for taking the time to join us for our study today!” The warm voice of the moderator over the tablet welcomes the participant. Surprised at the novelty of this strange setup, the participant says thank you and sits down, making herself comfortable while listening to instructions and an overview of all the precautions and cleaning that have been done before her arrival. Once the spiel is over, the participant looks conspiratorially around and asks.. “hey, since there’s…no one around…do you think I could….” “YES! Since you are alone, feel free to remove your mask. Likewise, if you prefer to still wear it, that’s fine too.” With a weight seemingly lifted off her shoulders, or ears, the participant gleefully removes the mask, ready to complete whatever task the moderator can throw her way.

You dislike wearing a mask and so do I. – build rapport?   Check!

A Lockdown Pivot

When the lockdown hit, we were supposed to be bringing in participants with their cars to talk about details within them and then talking for hours about stuff outside the car…lights out, right? How are we supposed to interview a person who can’t come here about their car that they can’t bring because they shouldn’t be leaving the house, all while capturing all of this information in a way that we can go back for review while also allowing our clients to be “there” viewing the entire process while also not freaking the participant out with the peanut gallery?

Oh yeah, and we have to do all of this here in Columbus and also concurrently with another team doing the same thing across the country when they can’t get on a plane to go there. Turns out the answer was in a lesson my high-school jazz teacher gave when teaching us how to improv — KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. There are always multiple ways to solve a problem. Most times, the simplest way is the best.

Here’s what we did: Since we had already recruited for the study, we asked who had a smart phone. Spoiler alert, everyone did. You might think, “well, they just had a Facetime conversation.” And you would essentially be right, but also wrong. Facetime has a few limitations that prevented us from going that route. First being, it’s only on iOS and while iPhone users are 45% of smartphone owners in the U.S., that’s not nearly enough.

We needed something that didn’t matter what phone you had. We also needed to be able to allow clients to observe without participants seeing their faces. We also wanted the ability for cloud recording. At Lextant we have plenty of tech for recording whatever we want but remember…We couldn’t even leave our houses yet.

Enter GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting will not always be the research savior that it is now; and it is not the only solution out there, but I can honestly say that without it, we would not be doing the quality research that we are during this pandemic.  The app has been solid, vetted, secure and while not quirkily beautiful, it works.

Technology In Action

We had participants join our session via a link sent to their email by the recruiter. Once in, the study felt like an in-person session some two-way chat for a bit. There was conversation, there was screen sharing some scales, a little rating here, a little “what do you think of that?” there.

Then the fun part. We wanted to see their cars! “Look person, you have this feature we are interested in, and we want you to show us how you use or don’t use it and why or why not.” So, since they’re already on their phone, they just took us into their cars. When needed, they flipped the camera around and showed us the thing they wanted. When it was time to talk to their kid, they handed the phone to them to let them get a few words in. It was great!

It was great because our participants (everyone, really) could participate without risking  their health. It was great because even though they were 2000 miles away, we had meaningful and productive conversations with people in their own cars. It was great for the researchers and clients because with the participant holding and directing the camera, they were showing us what THEY wanted us to see. It was great for me because I didn’t have to travel across country to set up gear in 30 different people’s cars when I was supposed to just be at home in my boxers and work shirt.

The New Normal

That study was a success and acted as a model for much of the testing we did after it. Even some of the testing we’re now able to do in our labs is still using GoToMeeting in one way or another. I’ve also gotten over my fear of lost data with cloud recording. That will always be a risk we have to deal with for remote studies. At our lab, I’ll just make a backup-recording on physical drives here in our space, no big deal.

Contributed by Steve Mauger, Lextant’s Senior Technical Specialist

 

 

Effective Behavior Change Design Strategies

Have you ever had difficulty using a product? Maybe using an airline kiosk you can’t understand, trouble pairing your phone to a Bluetooth speaker, or accidentally (and messily) opening your friend’s dishwasher when it’s already running. You may have found workarounds for some of these products, such as making checklists or putting tape over the buttons you don’t want to press. Some products are just difficult to use by design.

When kiosks and dishwashers difficult to use, they tend to introduce moments of frustration or inconvenience into our everyday lives. Well, what happens when a product being difficult to use puts lives on the line? What if you can’t figure out how to use your fire extinguisher when you need to? What if an EMT can’t figure out how to use the defibrillator? In these situations the difficulty creates problems beyond mere frustration and inconvenience.

Products which, if misused, can have safety consequences are often designed with a focus on safety, quality, rigorous testing, and in-depth training for the user. These efforts are important, but they sometimes make products even more complex and can be tedious and limiting for the people who use them. How can such products be designed in a way that promotes correct use and also creates an engaging, desirable experience?

Effective behavior change design strategies can keep the user engaged and motivated while promoting (and sometimes enforcing) the correct use of a product. In some cases, to keep users engaged and motivated while properly using a product, it is necessary to position the product within a connected supporting ecosystem.

Going Beyond a Traditional Approach to Behavior Change

The prescription pill bottle is a relatively simple product that lives in a difficult use environment where it is often used incorrectly. People forget to take their medications, take the wrong medications, take the wrong amount of medication, and purposefully or unintentionally take other peoples’ medications.

The color, visual design, labeling, function, and shape of pill bottles are all heavily designed with traditional behavior change techniques. These design elements are all intended to result in the correct use of the pill bottle and yet incorrect use is still persistent.

Let’s take a look less engaging behavior change strategies as well as a few that engage the user by leveraging their motivations within a supporting ecosystem, using our pill bottle as an example.

Using Constraint, Instruction, and Precaution to Drive Behavior Change

While common and effective, design strategies that focus on preventing the user from doing the wrong thing or that tell them what to do can limit how engaged the user gets with a product among other drawbacks. Let’s look at a few of these strategies applied to a pill bottle.

 Constraint: Add defensive or constraining elements to the design, making it more difficult to be used incorrectly.  Constraint strategies can be effective, but some users dislike being “prevented” from doing things by their products. There is also potential for users to intentionally use the product improperly by using “workarounds”.

Example: the child-proof cap on a pill bottle might make it difficult for the adult to open the bottle, so they may transfer it to a different container that is child accessible.

Instructional/Precautionary: Provide information to the user to instruct correct behaviors and warn against incorrect ones.

Example: A pill bottle may have instructions to take 1 pill twice a day and a precautionary warning to avoid taking the pill on an empty stomach.

Instructions and warnings are important design features. However, users are often overburdened with instructions and warnings and there is a possibility they won’t be noticed or will be intentionally ignored.

Example: If a patient’s been taking the same medication for years, and the instructions and warnings change on the bottle, it’s likely they won’t change their use of the pill. 

Tapping into Internal Motivations to Drive Behavioral Change

 In many cases, behavior change design strategies are more effective when they engage the user and leverage their motivations. For example, gamification and meeting the need for affiliation and belonging can promote engagement and give the user a more active role the appropriate use of a product.

To accomplish these methods, it is often necessary to look at the underlying goals and create an ecosystem that supports the correct actions to accomplish that goal. This could require additional products or integration with other existing products. While potentially requiring more effort to design than a simple pill bottle, this strategy has the potential open the doors to new opportunity in the form of new products and innovation.

How can a pill bottle motivate patients to adhere to their medications within an engaging supportive ecosystem?

Gamification: Provide rewards, points, and encouraging sounds and visuals. These can make the user an actively engaged “player” in the correct use of a system.

Example: A pill bottle that communicates with the patient’s phone. When they take their medication correctly, their phone plays a pleasing tone and congratulates a patient that they are 95% of the way to being back to normal health. This bottle could better motivate them to take that remaining 5% of the medication and feel proud of their accomplishment.

Gamification can be very successful or very unsuccessful depending how it’s designed into a product. In-depth research to create an engaging game-like feature is essential for success.

Affiliation & Belonging: Design elements that support feelings of social connection, competition, or cooperation.

Example: A pill bottle intended for youth patients could have a feature that notifies the parents when the medication has been taken and allows the child to see that their parents have “liked” that they took their medication.

Affiliation and belonging are universal human needs which is why they make for effective motivators. Other human needs can also be leveraged to change user behaviors using a product.

With the addition of an engaging ecosystem and motivational design elements, we start to look beyond the pill bottle into a larger patient healing system. What if the ecosystem communicated with the EHR? If doctors had a more accurate understanding of their patients’ compliance with medications, they could more accurately track how medication relates to healing and tailor treatments to each patient. This is just one example of how going beyond traditional behavior change techniques could lead users to a better experience with their products.

Testing Behavior Change Design Strategies

So how do we make sure our design elements are working? Traditionally, scientists will perform in-depth, long-term studies to measure how behavior changes over time, often over months or years. For product design programs, these studies would typically take too long and cost too much money. Most importantly, the results won’t tell the designer which improvements to make or what isn’t working about the design.

At Lextant we deploy tools like our System Learnability Assessment Method (SLAM) to quantitatively and qualitatively understand learning and behavior change at important moments in during user’s experience with a product. By focusing on these key moments in learning and use, we can understand how successful design elements are at changing behavior. We can also look for parts of the experience that could be preventing success.

Most importantly, we can give the designers the information they need to improve and innovate their products.

Author: Eric del Rio, Lextant Senior Associate, Human-Centered Design

UX Design: Negotiating with Stakeholders without Compromising the Data

UX researchers need to be flexible and quickly adapt to changing needs acting in the best interests of our clients to ensure their decisions have maximum impact on the quality of data.  Luckily, methods can almost always be adapted or redesigned thinking about the following:

1. Ask Why?

We need to understand what our stakeholders also have deadlines to meet with limited resources, so have conversations with them to learn more.

Have empathy and seek to understand the  demands they are facing. Once you understand their perspective, you’ll can  find ways to addressing their needs without having to sacrificing the integrity of your research protocols.

2. Prioritize Needs

Try breaking up the objectives and key questions you are trying to answer.  Sometimes using a combination of different research methods (e.g. a survey supplementing usability testing) may be more efficient than trying to answer a multitude of questions with one method.  Let your stakeholders know what questions can and cannot be answered and why.

3. Reduce # of Participants

When stakeholders hit you with budget cuts and shorter timelines, we can ask:  Can we cut back our number of participants?

Unless you are benchmarking or conducting statistical analyses, you can always look to minimize your sample size based on proper reasoning.

4. Restructure Methods

Can the Key Questions be answered through a simpler method and research setup?  Find ways to get insights prior to user interfaces though online surveys or remote interviews. Try conducting heuristic evaluation instead of usability testing to identify potential usability issues.  Think about ways you can answer that key questions without increasing the budget.

5. Streamline Analysis

If you can’t compromise on the number of participants or the method structure, find ways to streamline your analysis process.  Building a template for quantitative analysis, meticulously labeling the data, or assigning a person to analyze during the data collection phase are some ways of introducing efficiency.

6. Speak Their Language

Integrating a UX process in product development cycle through small, iterative testing benefits the company in the long run so they don’t spend revenue in unnecessary features or on fixing them when features are fully built out.  Educate your stakeholders of the negative impact of neglecting UX investment.

7. Build A Team

Are you the only guru on your product development team?  Train your team to think like a UX researcher so they themselves are asking is this what the users need?  There are a multitude of methods that allow designers and developers to be involved to help them build empathy for their users.

Keep stakeholders in the loop.  Constant and continuous communication is key to winning their trust.  There really isn’t ever a one size fits all solution, you apply your best strategy based on the given problem.

Written by:  Zoey Ryu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design with Lextant and  Carolyn Morgan, a UX Researcher at OCLC.  This content was originally created for IxDA Columbus in April 2020.

Can’t Stop Columbus – YMCA of Central Ohio

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the YMCA of Central Ohio was serving over 4000 local children with high quality childcare, summer camps and enrichment centers.  The impact of the pandemic was severe for the organization, reducing its services while allowing it to meet critical community needs for essential workers only in three facilities.   A recent community collaboration is helping  the YMCA support its families and staff as they return to a fuller scope of childcare services.

According to Becky Ciminillo, Vice President of Youth Development for YMCA of Central Ohio, this time has been challenging but has also represented real opportunity for the organization.  “We want people to know that our facilities have always been safe.  We were already following over 700 rules before the pandemic including protocols for communicable diseases.  The period after COVID-19 really did hit a reset button for our team.  We’ve been reevaluating everything we do with intention and a focus on what is best for the children and families we serve, our staff members, and ensuring we are in line with the YMCA mission.”

Understanding The Drivers of Trust

To support these goals, the YMCA wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns families and staff members were having about coming back to their childcare facilities and what actions they could take to make them feel safe and comfortable.   Through the YMCA’s relationship with The Columbus Foundation, a connection was made with the team at Lextant, a Columbus-based behavioral research and design firm, to execute a focused research sprint to inform these efforts.

“In reaction to COVID-19, The Columbus Foundation and the Can’t Stop Columbus program have created response plans to help businesses, organizations and individuals in our community who are being impacted by the virus,”  said Heather Tsavaris, Principal Consultant for Human:Kind at The Columbus Foundation. “We saw an opportunity to bring Lextant and the YMCA together to help them fully prepare for re-opening their childcare services.”

Parent & Staff Concerns

With the YMCA’s planning already underway and time being of the essence, the Lextant research team embarked on a focused, accelerated research sprint completed in just 10 days to help understand parent and staff concerns and identify ideal potential solutions to alleviate them.  The foundation of the research was based on Lextant’s sensory cue model for delivering clean and safe experiences.

“Our research lets us understand what people need to feel in order to feel comfortable returning to a childcare environment.  The key emotional drivers for both parents and staff members are being confident, relaxed, healthy, in control, stress free and safe,”  said Sarah Bodde, Director of Human-Centered Design for Lextant.  “We focused our co-creation sessions on how the YMCA could design protocols, processes and communication to create these experiences in the childcare setting.”

Delivering Clean & Safe Experiences

Lextant created a model depicting the ideal journey and experience of returning to childcare for parents and staff detailing the desired emotions they want to experience at each stage including preparing to go to the facility, arriving, time spent during the day and pick-up departure.

These insights focused the YMCA on direct solutions that would have the most impact on parents and staff members and give them confidence in returning, including:

  • Communication – The YMCA designed its “Our Promise To Families” campaign to share its processes and protocols and how they will be enforced with parents and staff clear easy to understand way;
  • Visual Cues – The centers are using several visual cues that help support these protocols and reinforce for parents and staff members that the facilities are clean and safe including directional arrows, social distancing indicators on the floor, visible sanitizing practices and modeling PPE usage.
  • Protocols – The YMCA has set clear protocols to protect the safety of the children in its care and ensured that its staff members have everything they need to be able to enforce them.
  • Teamwork & Togetherness – Continued information flow between YMCA leaders, staff members and families to keep everyone informed and prepared. A survey was sent after the first week of opening asking parents for feedback on how the YMCA was doing in terms of Communication, Safety, Protocol Enforcement and Overall Satisfaction and received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“We want our parents and staff members to know that ‘We’ve got this’.  While we were already developing strong plans for pick-up and drop-off protocols, PPE availability and other logistics, the Lextant work really helped us focus on what would matter most and how to bring those things to life,” continued Ciminillo.  “It hit home the importance of communication – early and often – leveraging visuals to reinforce our protocols, and keeping both parents and staff members engaged with us to modify our solutions as the situation evolves.”

In addition to its high quality childcare services, the YMCA recently restarted its summer camp programs and is making its plans to reinstate before and after school programs in the fall.

Consumers are ready for research, provided they feel protected.

To help our clients continue to gain user insights, Lextant has conducted participation surveys in two phases with a sample from our Columbus area participant pool to understand consumer willingness to participate in research, current wellness measures to protect against COVID-19, and ways to conduct in-person lab interviews during the pandemic.

Download the complete report:  In-Person Research During COVID-19

Research Scenarios

We queried participants about four potential research scenarios in the first phase:  Remote, Contactless-Drive Through, Contactless-Built Up Cockpit (BUC), and In-Person.  In the second phase, we added the additional In-Person research scenarios incorporating PPE and social distancing.

Findings By Scenario

The results from both phases of research indicate that in-person research is viable.  Findings indicate near-future, in-person research set-ups:

  • will require PPE, sanitizing procedures, and distancing to ensure successful recruiting, especially if recruit criteria is restrictive.
  • may need extra time, incentives, or precautions to successfully recruit participants

How Comfortable Are Potential Participants?

Participants who are willing to participate in testing are largely comfortable with the idea of participating. However, despite that willingness, some still would be uncomfortable, primarily with in-person participation. A focus on implementing their desired preventative measures could potentially mitigate their discomfort with participating in different types of studies at this time.

Desired Preventative Measures

Research participants want to make sure they are protecting themselves from others and the environment when going to a facility for contactless or in-person testing. In both surveys, respondents selected these protection methods most frequently:

  • hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes
  • requiring masks be worn by everyone
  • minimizing interactions with the research team
  • screening the research team for potential illness
  • taking participant temperatures prior to the interview to screen for potential illness

Download the complete report:  In-Person Research During COVID-19

Post Covid-19 Mobility Experiences

We are living in an unprecedented time right now and the disruption is driving new and unique behaviors.  It raises many questions moving forward.  What kinds of unique needs and behaviors are we going to see from consumers? What will they desire and how do we begin to understand how to bring value and take advantage of opportunities to create new experiences that are usable, useful and desirable?

Looking at the future of mobility, the pandemic and how it is changing consumer behavior will impact all areas from in-vehicle experiences and connected experiences to public transportation, mobility as a service, and autonomous vehicles.  How will the COVID-19 experience change brand perceptions and consumer decision making including the importance of being trusted, safe and clean?

Car As Sanctuary

This continually shifting new normal comes with new anxieties and concerns.  A central change that we are seeing is that mobility and wellness are on an accelerated convergence with each other.  With the impact of COVID-19, consumers are redefining what wellness and safety mean and they are going to seek designs, products and services that will help safeguard them from germs, viruses, pollutants and more.

It’s going to be important for us to understand which new consumer behaviors and desires are going to be short-lived as a reaction to the pandemic and which are going to be more systemic  needs moving forward.   There will be brand equity in making commitments to creating a future that is safer, cleaner and can be trusted.

Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences

We have leveraged our depth of research into the drivers of clean, safe and trusted experiences to create a Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences model that serves as a framework to understand consumers’ emotional needs in this new world and connect them to opportunities to create the new clean, contactless and crowd-less experiences.

 

Lextant Post Covid-19 Mobility Model

The central emotion at work in our model is the idea of control.  We find ourselves fighting against and protecting ourselves against an invisible enemy.  We don’t know where it is.  We don’t know who has it.   The result is feeling a lack of control and it is changing how we interact with each other and the world.

Post Covid-19 Mobility Model Download

Clean Is The New Safe

To a large degree, being clean is the new definition of safe.  Consumers are seeking to regain control and safety so they can feel confident that they are healthy and as a result relax and diminish stress in their environment.  As we move to the outer layers of the model, we being to explore how can build trust in the systems we design whether they are in-vehicle, autonomous or public transportation related.

We can encourage people to engage with mobility experiences by helping them

  • detect potential wellness and safety threats,
  • prevent those threats or problems from happening, and
  • ultimately protect consumers from them in their everyday interactions.

3 Key Factors To Build Trust

Three supporting factors that will help consumers feel in control and to regain trust rest in providing experiences that are Clean, Contactless and Crowd-less.

1. Clean

The idea of being clean and communicating it is complicated.  Consumers can’t see or know if the air is safe.  How can vehicles prevent and remove impurities from the air and then signal to passengers that it is clean and safe to enter.  Similarly when we think about materials, antiviral materials can be used to keep surfaces automatically clean.  The challenge is how to let consumers know these materials are in place and provide the sensory signals that will let consumers know they are effective.

Another challenge is managing transitions.  We can’t think of cleanliness as a static concept.  It moves and changes through the course of the mobility journey and we have to begin to understand how to design systems to support that for individual vehicles and in shared mobility environments.  It’s going to be very important to communicate the signals of clean in all situations.

2. Contactless

People are actively minimizing contact and physical interaction to protect themselves and maintain control.   A contactless experience is perceived as a cleaner experience.   In many ways, we can think about vehicles as a piece of PPE.  We’re going to see more in the way of autonomous delivery services, drive thru services being optimized, and concierge services for retail brands.  These contactless and contact-minimizing transactions will be mainstays in the post COVID-19 experience, and we need to design to support them.

We also need to be thinking about and designing contactless solutions for public transportation and other mobility services.  There are opportunities to signal that transitions and experiences are clean and deliver them in a contactless way.  Minimizing high touch contact points will reduce consumer anxiety and help feel confident to return shared transportation.

3. Crowd-less

Social-distancing is now our new normal and we’re trying to figure out ways to come together while being apart.  Looking ahead, we see that vehicles will not only continue to serve as sanctuaries but also facilitate new experiences that allow us to avoid crowded group situations.

We may be having more mobile dining experiences, attending drive-in events from our vehicles, using our cars as waiting rooms for appointments.  Vehicle interior designs will evolve to  accommodate and enhance these new experiences and other contactless interactions.

On-demand transportation, mini-mobility and micro-transit services are going to provide ways to help people move in smaller groups where there will be more confidence that the experience is clean and they are safe.

 

Creating clean, safe environments that facilitate contactless and crowd-less interactions will be an expectation from future mobility experiences in the wake of COVID-19 with long-lasting impact.

Author:  Chris Rockwell, Lextant’s Founder & CEO

6 Key Phases of UX Research

Following a disciplined UX Research process doesn’t just result in an intuitive, enjoyable user experience, it also creates opportunity to iterate and improve the ultimate design.

1. Set Objectives & Know Your Key Questions By Heart

Quite frequently, goals for a UX research initiative can be muddied by things like changing scope, budget, team, prototype fidelity, and the number of stakeholders.  To stay grounded, flesh out and align on the research objectives and KQs for each research initiative early to guide and inform subsequent research phases.

Having a set list of KQs to always fall back on can keep you focused and eliminate any diversions when negotiating with stakeholders.

2. Study Design – What methods can best answer your questions?

To decide on the best method for your study, ask yourself “What kinds of data points and types of analysis do I need to answer the KQs?”

Examples:

Usability Testing – understand user interaction

Contextual Inquiry – gain context of use

Survey, A/B Test – decide on design concepts

Participatory Design – understand the ideal

Card sorting, Tree testing – inform IA

Focus Group – uncover needs on a lower budget

Survey, Remote Testing – in a pandemic

3. Screening – Who are you looking for?

Recruit participants who have the defining characteristics of the target users such as demographics, habits (ex. Frequent online shopper) and ownership (ex. Luxury care owner).  Set appropriate quotas on target qualities to ensure participants reflect general distribution of qualities in the customer populations.

4. In The Field – Moderation

Listen intensely and as with intention.

Stay Neutral

O – “Tell me how you found that button”

X – “Great!  How did you know?”

Build Rapport

O – “Today, we are interested in learning about you and there are no wrong answers today because we are evaluating the system.”

Avoid making assumptions.  Always ask Why.

O – moderator:  “Why did you choose to exit out of this page?”

Participant:  “Because the tab had a misleading label.”

X – moderator:  thinks participant probably didn’t see the tab on the page instead o asking a follow up question.

Listen more, talk less.  Observe and probe.

Your job is to moderate not explain.

Avoid leading questions.

X “Do you like the button because it’s red?”

Use the participants language.

O participant:  “I’ll use the info button to find more about stuff?”

Moderator:  “Use the info button to find more about what?

Avoid multiple choice or layered questions.

O – “Why did you change the setting?

X – “Did you do that because you wanted x, y or z?”

Be specific about what you are asking.

O – Why did you select that button?

X – Why did you do that?

5. In The Field – Note Taking/Documentation

Take notes smartly for efficient analysis.  Label your notes with relevant categorizations (e.g. question types, tasks, demographics) to easily filter notes during analysis.  Take observational notes on user interaction to identify cause of user error.  It can provide more insights than what people say, and inform design recommendations for next phase innovations.

Leave at least a 15 minute break between short interview sessions (<1hr) and 30 minutes for long ones (1-2 hours) to reflect and capture observations.

6.  Analyze – Back To The Objectives

Keep your key questions posted in front of you so they are front and center in your mind during analysis.  This will help you filter out unnecessary data points – aka noise – and spend time focused on analyzing important trends – aka the good stuff – that will directly answer and indirectly provide unexpected insights to your research.  Use the labels built into the notes as filters to quickly pull information and compare findings.

 

Applying this process will create the conditions to uncover the important insights about your user that will enable designers to create more thoughtful experiences that will have the most impact on the user.

Written by:  Zoey Ryu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design with Lextant.  This content was originally created for IxDA Columbus in April 2020.

8 Skills UX Researchers Need

UX Researchers draw on a complex set of skills to be impactful in their work.  The following are 8 must-have skills that will help UX researchers accomplish their main goal of creating great user experiences.

1.  Think Globally

Thinking broadly helps you look across multiple dimensions of the design problem that you are helping to solve.  Remember – you are not your user.  In fact, your user and you may have absolutely nothing in common.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan

Preparation is key.  Planning allows you to be flexible if things go awry since you’ve already thought about how to overcome potential obstacles.  You don’t have to get prepared if you are already prepared.

3. Time Management

Time management begins with assessing whether the questions being asked are the most valuable and impactful for the team and users.  Then, prioritize research projects accordingly.  Also, make time to empower others and to focus on your own development.

4. Collaboration & Socialization

Collaboration is key.  Socialize research, bring stakeholders with you.  Teach how to ask powerful questions.  This broadens the reach and impact of the research.  It may also lighten your load and strengthen your research safety net when there’s high demand for research.

5. Communication

Collaboration and socializing research depend on communication.  Listen to what your team, colleagues and clients are saying and process it before you respond.  That help you focus on the real message rather than reacting without thinking.

6. Critical Thinking

Ask easy questions.  Ask hard questions.  Ask good questions.  Data isn’t always easily understood.  Thinking critically about all data and their sources – this includes stakeholders – makes you a better informed and prepared researcher.

7. Flexibility

Things will go wrong.  Methods won’t always be perfect.  Resources aren’t always available.  And that’s okay.  If you can’t find a way, find a compromise to make good enough research happen.  Bend so you don’t have to break.

8. Be Kind to Yourself

Reflect, recover – then act.  You are a human who is taking in a lot of others’ emotions.  Schedule reflection and recovery time.  Don’t over work yourself:  you, the data, and the project will not benefit otherwise.

UX Researchers who have both wide and deep knowledge at the same time and who have mastered these skills are able to work outside of their comfort zones, develop high performing teams and ultimately drive meaningful experiences for users.

Written by:  Zoey Ryu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design with Lextant and  Carolyn Morgan, a UX Researcher at OCLC.  This content was originally created for IxDA Columbus in April 2020.

Connecting Insights To Transformative Design

The Challenge

Conagra Brands’ portfolio of frozen food brands had become stale – losing sales and relevance as consumers’ tastes shifted to more on trend ingredient profiles and healthier options.  The organization’s structure and the processes it was using to create and test products was not translating into meaningful innovation and sales.  And, the development cycle was taking too long.

The Response

Conagra’s executive team made the bold choice to pursue systemic change.  They engaged Lextant in the process and focused on turning around the Healthy Choice brand.  The goal was simple:  deliver a relevant, compelling brand experience to win in market and, in the process, test a new user-centered experience approach to product development.



The Work – Healthy Choice

Lextant began by developing a deep understanding of consumers’ desired experiences exploring areas around mindful eating, premium experiences, plant based and animal proteins, ingredient profiles, vegetable-only eating and more.  Conagra and Lextant used this foundation with customers in participatory research sessions using visual and verbal triggers to co-create the ideal experience framework for the brand.



Actionable Insights Translated To Design

Lextant synthesized the results with proprietary analytics to create a model of the key drivers of the Healthy Choice experience.  The team then applied its proprietary Insight Translation process to articulate exactly how the brand needed to look, feel, taste and smell to deliver the consumer’s desired experience.  These sensory cues were brought to life in a visual framework so the entire design team was crystal clear on what they need to do to win with the consumer.

Equipped with this precise roadmap for brand revitalization, the Conagra team was able to move innovation forward with focus and pace.  All stakeholders were aligned on what it would take to deliver accelerating speed to market.


The Results

The culmination of this effort was the launch of Healthy Choice Power Bowls, that built on the brand’s legacy equity with innovation centered on consumer desires for a variety of recipes including plant-based proteins, more recognizable, modern ingredients  and flavor profiles, easier to us bowls vs traditional trays and more sustainable packaging.  A new brand design completed the process signaling change in the market with significant impact:

  • Generating sales increases of over 25% for two consecutive years
  • Expanding the market for Healthy Choice brand by appealing to millennials who hand not previously engaged with the brand
  • Returning the entire Healthy Choice profile to growth through the halo effect of the new brand experience


Enterprise Impact – A Cultural Shift

The Insight Translation process fueled a cultural shift at Conagra changing the way it approaches product development and design innovation.  The process change removed friction points and aligned stakeholders allowing innovation work for other Conagra brans including Marie Callendar’s and Reddi Wip to move forward with focus, pace and ultimately with impact in the market.


Ongoing Impact:  Extending Competitive Advantage

The longevity of the insights generated with Lextant set the foundation for future, lean innovation.  Conagra has used Lextant’s tools to foster a design culture grounded in rigorous behavioral science and an in-depth understanding of ideal experiences that continues to drive Conagra brands beyond incremental growth toward disruptive change.

Lextant is proud to help Conagra drive innovation through the lens of the consumer. To learn more about Conagra’s innovation approach, click here.