Out in the Field

Early this month I attended the 2013 IA Summit in Baltimore, MD. Then I came home and promptly became ill (apologies to anyone who I might have infected, though they *say* sinus infections aren’t contagious). It wasn’t a send-me-to-the-hospital type of illness, but it was a drain on my ability to think. I’m glad to have my brain back: hello brain, nice to see you!

I went over my notes today to see what stood out to me and my most thorough notes were forĀ Brad Nunnally‘s presentation Users in the Mist: Stories from Field Studies. Brad described user studies he did for Fidelity at people’s own homes, watching them use products in their natural habitat.

Some key pieces of advice in the talk:

  1. Send your information ahead with a photo attached so people will recognize you when you appear on their doorstep.
  2. Take the water offered (observe hospitality customs)
  3. Watch out for guns (and your own personal safety)

Field studies is a type of user research that I would love to do more of in the future. When the MTA installed their new Metrocard machines I had a class assignment to observe people using them at the stations. It was much less nerve-wracking than I feared: as long as I had my pen and notebook and explained what I was doing, people were very accepting. They were so accepting that they started asking me forĀ assistance!