If you're like me and love problem-solving, it's tempting to jump straight into finding solutions. But often, we must slow down and, before finding solutions, find problems.
Problem-finding leads us to solve the correct problems. As I began my new role, I asked the creative director if I could spend the first few weeks conducting research to learn about the environment, people and pain points.
I've always been relatively intuitive, quickly perceiving what was happening in the immediate and broader contexts. Over the past ten years, though, I've really grown to love research. I have both learner and analytical in my top 10 StrengthsFinder strengths, and getting to do user research leverages these strengths.
Interviews were the primary method for my research. I chose interviews for two reasons:
I began with a few more extended unscripted interviews with the creative director and previous production lead.
I wanted to understand the goals and how things currently worked and felt. This process helped me get oriented and identify goals for my research and the future system.
A key quote I got from the creative director was, "I wanted clients to tell others, 'C1M (the creative department) is a joy to work with.'" I also saw how the current system exasperated our production team and creatives.
Trust and empathy will pay off in the short and long term.
These insights helped me frame who I talked to and what questions I asked.
Moving to more structured interviews, I created two questionnaires, one for internal to C1M and one for those external. I kept the questions open-ended while still ensuring I got a good feel for their user journeys.
In our world of digital distraction, pen and paper cultivate a sense of being more present in the conversation than where there is a screen between you.
I mostly followed the order on the questionnaire but also flexed as the conversations naturally progressed. You can see the questions I asked.
I could usually get an interview done in about 30 minutes, but I often ended up using an hour because of the value of building relationships. I printed out the worksheets and took notes by hand.
I find that in our world of digital distraction, pen and paper cultivate a sense of being more present in the conversation than where there is a screen between you. Oddly enough, this still seems true even when many of my interviews with through a video call. Handwritten notes also let me capture observations in a non-linear way that is sometimes difficult with a keyboard.
By using user stories, you can say goodbye to the wasted time of working on the wrong thing.