There’s nothing special about my work day, you say. I have my routine and, trust me, it’s boring! There are meetings, deadlines, inside jokes, breaks, acronyms. We toss around vocabulary foreign to anyone who doesn’t work here. “Real” work gets done in the spaces in between … and there’s never enough time. What could you possibly learn watching me?
Truth is, your “boring” routine is exactly what we want to study. As designers of your Widen Experience, there’s no better way to understand what pains you, what pleases you, and everything in between. This year Wideneers will be on the road, visiting customers near and far, to learn about you and your working environment.
Let’s take an example we can relate to. Wells Fargo once studied users of their mobile banking app in the U.S. One surprising discovery was that users are more driven to use the app if they have complex financial portfolios than traditional factors like age and comfort with technology. They found that some of the older participants were the most advanced mobile bankers because they managed their own businesses and had to manage retirement accounts and mortgages, while college-aged students often only had a single checking account. This discovery led them to optimize the app for older customers, like larger buttons, simpler text, and easy navigation between accounts.
This type of observation is a qualitative research method called ethnography and contextual inquiry. Together, they describe the process of studying your physical space to watch and record your environment. We’re interested in the layout of your workspace. What type of technology — hardware and software — you use to get the job done. Your team’s collaboration style. How long you sit or stand at your workstation. Your preferred methods of communicating. Where you’re situated relative to other teams or departments. How often you get interrupted. How often you talk about and use the Media Collective. And yes, even the language you use.
It’s true. We build software for the web — stuff you can’t physically touch or feel. Neither can you touch or feel the digital content you store and send from the Media Collective. But we care about all the things that happen before, during, and after you use the product because we’re not just building software. We’re making an experience that starts long before you log in … and ends well after you log out.
What can you expect from participating in this kind of research? There isn’t formula or prescribed setup because each of you are unique! But generally it’ll go something like this: A small team will come into your space. We’ll bring things to write with, and we may even record some video (with your permission, of course). We’ll encourage you to work as normally as possible. We may sit in chairs or stand. We’ll move around. At times we’ll have questions or ask you to explain what you’re doing and why. And when we’re done, lunch or dinner is on us.
Hope to see you soon in your element!