[Reading Reflection] Bridge the Research-Design Gap

Reading Material:

Sharp, Rogers, & Preece (2007) Interaction Design. Wiley. Chapter 10.

Cooper, Reimann, and Cronin (2007) About Face 3. Wiley. Chapter 5 & 6.

This week’s reading is aiming at transferring research data to useful design guidelines. The two books went for similar approaches, though slightly different in some concepts. They both use the qualitative research data gained through research phase to synthesis some kind of user models out of it. Then, based on the user models, user scenarios and product requirements could be generated.

Cooper emphasized a lot on the concept of “persona” against other models such as user profile, with very good reasons. Compared these two books, Cooper definitely has a clear route to follow, with a solid source to retrieve from — research based users’ goals. Persona as a user model is presented as individual people, yet represents groups of users with shared behavior patterns. This nature of persona could enable an honest information inheritance from research results and have a vivid characteristic to commute with stakeholders. Once having well-built persona, persona-based scenarios could be gained to represent how the specific persona will interact with specific product or interface. Requirements then could be retrieved from the scenarios correspondingly. We could now see a clear path to follow in terms of defining product requirements: qualitative research –> persona –> persona-based scenarios –> requirements.

The process of creating persona and analyzing persona to generate scenarios & requirements reminds me of a popular Website in China: the Chinese Facebook –Renren.com. I actually met the founder W of this Website about two years ago. He said honestly that when they created Renren, there were several competitors out there in China. Everyone is trying to design the features of the social Website by themselves but no one succeed very well. W and his team then decided they would just copy Facebook since they had similar target users (college students) and Facebook’s success had been verified by the market. However, if they just copied everything from Facebook, I’d say they would fail or at least not that popular as they are now. What did they change, then? Considering the different national culture, it is reasonable to have different users’ goals. For example, Chinese people will more care about who have payed attention to my posts; how people think of me after they saw my posts (status, pictures, or diaries); could I “secretly” visit someone’s page without he knowing about it; and who is the most popular person in my university? According to Norman’s three level of cognitive processing, I would say these belong to behavioral and reflective processing, which are very important to build long-term product relationships. Once these end goals of users are fulfilled, users will “upgrade” to loyal users. To fulfill these user goals, requirements could be generated. Such as users need to see who visited them recently; number of visits should be displayed in dominant position; and Website could show who is the most popular according to visit rate. Then here we go, Renren, a Chinese Facebook:

The "Recent Visitor" Function of Renren.com

The "Recent Visitor" Function

The "Number of Visits" of Renren

The "Number of Visits"

The "Most Popular People" Display of Renren.com

The "Most Popular People" Display

How do you like it, as a non-Chinese?

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2 thoughts on “[Reading Reflection] Bridge the Research-Design Gap

    1. Emma (Zhihua) Post author

      I am surprised that you like it! I should test it out with more non-Chinese friends=)
      Funny thing, I heard *again* today that two Chinese students talking about loving this Renren much more than Facebook, they say Facebook is “boring”. User research really works.

      Reply

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