UX Cafe - Research Series

  • May 2018 - Present
  • Usability Study, UX Research
  • Team: Online Experience @ University of Texas at Austin

Background

The UX Cafe is an ongoing research series that I design and facilitate at the University of Texas at Austin.

The format is a guerrilla usability testing style where I have a table set up in the main Perry-Castañeda Library with coffee, tea and granola bars. I have a sign describing the series and inviting people to give 10-15 minutes of their feedback in exchange for coffee and a snack.

I use a mixed methods approach in my research design, where I gather both qualitative and quantitative data throughout the sessions. Each participant initially fills out a demographic survey at the beginning of the session and concludes with a post-test questionnaire.

The session format is flexible and can include both generative & evaluative studies. I have so far focused mostly on evaluative studies where I test the usability of digital products such as search tools, navigation systems, and navigation interfaces. However, I have generative research studies planned which include card sorting studies that focus on experience of conducting research using the university’s academic resources.

This format was successfully implemented at Pennsylvania State University and University of Arizona. The series I designed references the testing framework provided by these schools.

Challenge

Big challenges in performing user testing within an education or non-profit setting are recruitment and incentives. The UX Cafe series was designed in an effort to make the process of gathering user feedback easy to implement, recurring and sustainable.

The incentives of coffee and granola bars are affordable and not a cost-burden, yet they work well in attracting participants to want to give 10-15 minutes of their time.

In order to create engagement and buy-in from stakeholders regarding the session findings, I create summary slide decks at the conclusion of each testing period with links out to the full reports & testing notes.

My Role

My role in this series is to lead the research design, moderate the sessions with the help of a graduate research assistant, report on and synthesize findings to deliver to relevant stakeholders.

See the below photo for our basic setup:

setup of UX cafe in campus building lobby

My Toolkit

graphic displaying things I bring to a ux cafe session

For each session, I usually pack the following:

  • -Demographic survey
  • -Laptop or relevant device for user to perform test
  • -Tasks
  • -Post-task questionnaire
  • -Post-test questionnaire
  • -If generative study: research instrument (e.g., card sort study, interview field guide)
  • -Participant coding spreadsheet
  • -Note taking template + laptop
  • -Incentives (coffee, hot water, tea, cups, etc. -- mini Starbucks)

Deliverables

For each testing period, I create a test plan, conduct the sessions, collect structured data, and deliver a final report on findings to relevant stakeholders in my organization.

Test Plan Format

My test plans normally consist of:

  • -Links to all relevant surveys, post-task & post test questionnaires
  • -Description of testing conditions, date and subject of test
  • -Goals, methods, tasks, and metrics being collected

Please contact me for an example of a test plan that I've created.

Sessions

In each session, I seek to collect structured data that I can easily use for later analysis. I create templates for notetaking to capture data such as participant comment, area/section their comment refers to, and participant code.

Reports & Presentations

At the conclusion of each testing period, I create a summary report to deliver to stakeholders. Since my audience are primarily department leads who seek highlights and key recommendations to turn into user stories, my reports are typically slide decks with links out to fuller details.

My reports and presentations normally consist of:

  • -Demographics overview
  • -Tasks used
  • -Task completion feedback highlights
  • -Error rate (if collected)
  • -Post-task questionnaire responses overview
  • -Recommendations (user issue + recommended fix - ordered by priority)
  • -Relevant notes on test conditions

Please contact me for an example of a report slide deck that I've created.