UX, ethnography and possibilities: for Libraries, Museums and Archives

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These slides are adapted from a talk I gave at the Welsh Government's Marketing Awards for the LAM sector, in 2017.

It offers a primer on UX - User Experience - and how ethnography and design might be used in the library, archive and museum worlds to better understand our users. All good marketing starts with audience insight.

The presentation covers the following:
1) An introduction to UX
2) Ethnography, with definitions and examples of 7 ethnographic techniques
3) User-centred design and Design Thinking
4) Examples of UX-led changes made at institutions in the UK and Scandinavia
5) Next Steps - if you'd like to try out UX at your own organisation

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UX, ethnography and possibilities: for Libraries, Museums and Archives

  1. @ned_potter ETHNOGRAPHY + POSSIBILITIES FOR LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES AND MUSEUMS UX University of York
  2. TERMINOLOGY
  3. Ethnographic Museum Ethnographic Archive Ethnographic Library TERMINOLOGY
  4. Ethnographic Museum Ethnographic Archive Ethnographic Library This is about using ethnography to observe users of libraries, archives and museums… TERMINOLOGY
  5. INTRODUCTION: A UX PRIMER
  6. UX has become an IP UMBRELLA term to cover a suite of techniques that can be divided roughly into two parts: ethnography and design
  7. SIMPLY PUT Ethnographic techniques and observation lead to a deeper and more complex understanding of user needs and behaviour than traditional data gather methods normally allow. (Examples follow)
  8. Simply put, HUMAN CENTRED D E S I G N prioritises the end user, their needs, and their behaviour, at every stage of the design process, with an aim to making several small changes to improve the user experience…
  9. In recent years the User Experience in Libraries movement (UX) has spread from the US and Scandinavia to the UK
  10. UX is not
  11. Libraries are using UX to make an IMPACT on their users’ day to day lives
  12. What does all of this have to do with…
  13. What does all of this have to do with…
  14. PART ONE: ETHNOGRAPHY
  15. 7 KEY ETHNOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES Observation / Behavioural Mapping Unstructured and Semi-Structured Interviews Cognitive Mapping Touchstone Tours Love Letters / Breakup Letters Cultural Probes Graffiti Walls
  16. 1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping Note your users as they move through and interact with the space.
  17. 1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping Note your users as they move through and interact with the space. What are their paths? What do they see? What do they use? What do they ignore?
  18. 1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping
  19. 2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews Interview your subject about their working / scholarly / cultural LIFE, not just the institution. Ask open questions, based on what they’re saying rather than based on a pre-prepared list.
  20. 2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews For example ask not ‘what e-resources do you use?’ but ‘what’s your process when you’re set an assignment / job- hunting?’
  21. 2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews For example ask not ‘what is your favourite part of the museum?’ but ‘how do museum visits fit in with your other cultural activities?’
  22. 3. Cognitive Maps A brilliant jumping off point for the interview is the Cognitive Map. Ask your subject to draw a map from memory.
  23. 3. Cognitive Maps The Cognitive Map can be of a building or space – but it can also be of a process, like researching their family tree, or completing a college assignment. They have 6 minutes to do this, changing colour of pen every 2 minutes.
  24. 3. Cognitive Maps Note what they put down first, what’s a last minute addition, what they leave out entirely. You can code this later. Then to introduce the unstructured or semi-structured interview, ask them to talk you through their map. Use what they tell you to inform your questions.
  25. 3. Cognitive Maps
  26. 3. Cognitive Maps
  27. 3. Cognitive Maps
  28. 4. Touchstone Tours Rather than showing your users around, let them take YOU on a tour of the building (and record what they say). Does their understanding of processes, systems and the space match your expectations?
  29. 5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters Ask your users to write a letter to a collection or service (NOT a member of staff!) – either professing their love for, or breaking up with, that service. This seems very gimmicky and won’t work with everyone, but when it does work it really allows you to understand the emotion engendered by the user experiences
  30. 5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
  31. 5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
  32. 5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
  33. 5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
  34. 6. Cultural Probes Give your users the tools they need to take ethnography home with them – diary studies, a voice recorder, the chance to take pictures… Encourage them to record feelings, events and interactions.
  35. 7. Graffiti Walls Give your users a feedback mechanism which is quick, easy and interactive
  36. 7. Graffiti Walls
  37. 7. Graffiti Walls
  38. These methods for feedback gathering tend to reveal very in- depth and varied views, feelings and experiences
  39. The key is not to get stuck on the ethnography phase – the next step is to design changes to your service based on what you’ve learned.
  40. PART TWO: DESIGN
  41. The aim is to tweak the service to make the user experience better. This may mean a small number of large changes – you never know what the data will tell you – but most often this will mean a large number of small changes that positively influence the user day to day
  42. The Design Thinking process first defines the problem and then implements the solutions, always with the needs of the user demographic at the core of concept development. This process focuses on needfinding, understanding, creating, thinking, and doing. At the core of this process is a bias towards action and creation: by creating and testing something, you can continue to learn and improve upon your initial ideas. “ Stanford Design School
  43. (In other words: it’s iterative. Rather than saving up your design tweaks for one huge change, go for a rapid- prototyping model…)
  44. Make changes early and often, monitor your users’ responses, and don’t be afraid to fail. Just make sure you record and learn from failure
  45. Perhaps it’s better to make something self- righting than to aim for perfection. Can your users find their own way out of difficulties?
  46. Use design techniques to help structure your thinking Examples courtesy of Modern Human
  47. PART THREE: UX-LED CHANGES
  48. Here are some examples of changes: tweaks to our services at the University of York, informed or supported by our three major UX projects since 2015.
  49. We installed hot-drinking-water taps, for those who prefer to drink hot water during the winter months
  50. We changed the opening hours of one of our sites to 24hrs, because students told us they were reluctant to use it if it meant setting up all their stuff and then having to move at 10pm when it previously closed
  51. We added white-boards to the Postgrad areas to try and help foster a sense of community. PGs don’t always want to collaborate, but sometimes they just want to BE, together in a shared space.
  52. We bought blankets for all our sites. It may not seem like much, but…
  53. We bought blankets for all our sites. It may not seem like much, but…
  54. We changed the way our Flexible Loans system works for the academic community, and data from ethnographic fieldwork also fed into changes to the catalogue front-end, and our reading list system
  55. We changed the way we communicate with our users
  56. Examples of changes at other institutions include changing the location of digital screens, to areas where they’ll be actually engaged with by a larger number of people…
  57. … so this screenshot from Andy Priestner shows several behavioural maps combined by Georgina Cronin to show the ‘desire line’ people often use – digital screens and signage can then be repositioned where they will be most seen and easiest to read
  58. Ethnographic fieldwork can identify why supposedly quiet areas were still thought of as noisy by users – solutions at other institutions included oiling loud hinges on office doors, and turning the volume down on self-issue machines…
  59. Another HEI put in more printers, more signage (both physical and digital) and a phone charging station. Again, none of these changes are huge on their own, but…
  60. THIS THIS THIS THIS
  61. = a better user experience, happier users
  62. Often UX fieldwork can be the evidence and trigger required to make the changes you’ve known you want to do for a while…
  63. FINALLY: NEXT STEPS
  64. If you’d like to try this at your library, museum or archive (or any other organisation) here’s a potential path forward:
  65. 1. Choose either a space or a demographic
  66. 1. Choose either a space or a demographic 2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to start for space. Cognitive Mapping and Interviews are good to do with a demographic. 3. Practice on colleagues first!
  67. 1. Choose either a space or a demographic 2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to start for space. Cognitive Mapping and Interviews are good to do with a demographic. 3. Practice on colleagues first! 4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a specific problem. Be led by the data.
  68. 1. Choose either a space or a demographic 2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to start for space. Cognitive Mapping and Interviews are good to do with a demographic. 3. Practice on colleagues first! 4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a specific problem. Be led by the data. 5. As soon as you find something you can change, design and implement the change right away.
  69. 1. Choose either a space or a demographic 2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to start for space. Cognitive Mapping and Interviews are good to do with a demographic. 3. Practice on colleagues first! 4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a specific problem. Be led by the data. 5. As soon as you find something you can change, design and implement the change right away. 6. Have fun!
  70. SOME CREDITS All photos are CC0 (sourced via Pixabay & Pexels) except the Touchstone Tour pic, courtesy of Georgina Cronin and the Modern Human design cards, taken by me. Thanks to Andy Priestner, Jenny Foster, Ingela Wahlgren and Carl Barrow for their examples of UX-led changes. Follow them on Twitter for more good stuff!
  71. Read more about UX at the University of York Library libinnovation.blogspot.co.uk a structured introduction to UX: ned-potter.com talk to me on twitter: @ned_potter THANKS FOR LISTENING! Find out about the UXLibs Conference: uxlib.org

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