[Reading Reflection] Qualitative Study in Usability Research

Paay, J. (2008). From Ethnography to Interface Design. Handbook of Research on User Interface Design and Evaluation for Mobile Technology. IGI Global. Retrieved from http://www.igi-global.com/chapter/handbook-research-user-interface-design/21820
This book chapter wisely captured the connection between contextual characteristic of mobile usability and ethnographic-based study, and provided a ethnography approach to facilitate mobile usability design. As a chapter in a handbook, this reading provided fruitful review of relationship between ethnography and HCI study. One big issue lies in applying ethnographic methods to HCI domain is how to tailor the traditional ethnographic approaches to a relative quick yet informative way to inspire interface design. This chapter provided simple yet informative options for designers to follow. I would love to try it out to see how effective it is.
Eysenbach, G., & Köhler, C. (2002). How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews. BMJ, 324(7337), 573 -577. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7337.573
This paper is a great example of integrating several qualitative studies. The most interesting thing for me was the inconsistent results between different methods. This probably suggests that in the future studies, we should not rely on single qualitative method to get the credible conclusion. Triangulation through multiple methods is necessary in order to increase the credibility of the study. Another inspiration is the importance of resemblance between experimental environment and realistic environment.
Millen, D. R. (2000). Rapid ethnography (pp. 280-286). ACM Press. doi:10.1145/347642.347763
This paper is cited by Paay in his chapter as a specific approach to carry out ethnography study in HCI research — rapid ethnography. It is interesting yet kind of expected to see the author offered the modification on the traditional ethnography study, to make it adapt to short product realization cycles. It is more like applying a broad methodology (narrow down, specific aiming) to a specific area (ethnography study), but it is valuable to fill in the gap between ethnography study with HCI research in a systematic way.

One thought on “[Reading Reflection] Qualitative Study in Usability Research

  1. Mihaela

    I like that you picked up on the very reason why I assigned the health information paper 🙂

    Yes, observation and self-reports will often yield different data. There is a lot that happens when we use computers that we’re not quite aware of. So, we say one thing but do another, or we’re not fully aware of what we want. That’s why asking users what they want is not a very good idea. They say they want something, you build it, and when you test it, it turns out they hate it!


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