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Posts Tagged ‘Ergonomics’

An Introduction to Focus Groups in User Research Methodology

2022年07月16日 留下评论

In the post titled “Summary of User Research Methodology” published last year, I have compared user research methods in two textbooks. There are many methods now used in user research like questionnaire, observation, interviews, focus groups, portrait, experimental method, surveys, contextual inquiry, comparative analysis, usability testing, diary keeping and task analysis. Some of them, like observation, interviews, focus groups, portrait, surveys, contextual inquiry, diary keeping and task analysis, are qualitative research methods and others like questionnaire, experimental method, comparative analysis and usability testing are quantitative research methods. Questionnaire, observation, interviews are common methods used by most researchers, while some others are not common and even not mentioned in humanities and social sciences like focus groups and portrait which are specially used in user experience research field. Firstly, I will give an introduction to focus groups in user research methodology. The following introduction is quoted from the article “What are Focus Groups in User Experience Research?

A focus group is a qualitative research method that aims to gather quick user insights from a variety of people in a short period of time.

Focus groups are designed to gain an understanding of customer opinions and perceptions of new concepts or ideas. They are typically used during the design and early stages of the research phase to gain consensus on customer perception. Focus groups are also useful after the product has been implemented since it helps to gather user insights on a functioning product.

The goal of focus groups is to get many participants in a room to gather as many different ideas and perspectives as possible. However, having too many people can limit the ability to gather feedback from all participants. After all, there isn’t a linear relationship between the number of participants and the number of insights. We found that the ideal group size for a focus group is 8-10 people.

It is also recommended to facilitate three or four different focus groups to ensure a good mix of perspectives and ideas.

Preparing for your Focus Groups

Focus groups require the researcher to create a list of questions, or a discussion guide, to structure the group conversation. However, feel free to let conversations evolve as they will without researcher intervention. The session should generally last from 60 to 90 minutes.

Once you have the objectives for your focus group, you should start recruiting for it. If you’d like to learn more about recruiting participants for high-quality user insights, read this post.

Also, you should select a location that is convenient for your participants. If you don’t have space in your office, you can find conference rooms on sites like Breather.

Once you’ve done that, send a follow-up invitation with the proposed agenda, topics for discussion, and location details. It’s a good idea to send over the topic ahead of time so participants can opt out, especially if it’s a sensitive topic.

Conducting Focus Groups

While conducting focus groups, ask permission to record the session so you can reference it in the future. It will be helpful to refer to the recording in the synthesis phase in case there are any gaps in your notes.

If co-workers want to join, have them sit on the outskirts of the room, quietly taking notes. As a facilitator, it’s difficult to take notes while conducting the focus group so leave room for breaks so your co-workers can ask questions.

During the session, encourage equal participation among the group. If a few people dominate the conversation, call on others to participate. Also, consider a round-table approach in which you go around the table, giving each person a chance to answer each question.

Lastly, avoid abrupt topic changes. Even though you created a discussion guide, allow the conversation to naturally unfold. This is how you will gain the most valuable user insights.

Following the Session

After the focus group, review any notes and recordings. Write down any points of group consensus, surprises or unexpected topics and review with your co-workers.

Advantages of Conducting Focus Groups

As a socially-oriented research method, focus groups capture real-life data in a social setting. The research team will be able to see how participants speak about a particular topic. Typically, points of consensus will be highlighted during the focus group.

Focus groups generate quick results. Unlike moderated sessions, where you’ll spend hours and hours gathering user insights from 6-8 individual participants, focus groups yield similar insights in an hour or two. Focus groups produce a large amount of data on a topic in a short period of time.

Group conversations often bring out aspects of a topic or reveal information about a subject that may not have been anticipated by the researcher or emerged from individual interviews.

Lastly, it provides access to comparisons that participants make between personal experiences. This can be very valuable and provide access to consensus and diversity of experiences on a topic.

Limitations of Conducting Focus Groups

Focus groups are a poor method for evaluating interface usability. Instead, they should be used to evaluate concepts, ideas, and brand perception. In order to conduct a usability study to test prototypes and websites, opt for a moderated or unmoderated session. You’ll be able to easily conduct both types of studies with a comprehensive user testing software.

Another downside of conducting a focus group is that group dynamics can be swayed with strong opinions. Participants may not want to disagree with the larger group but they would be more willing to share their opinion in a one-on-one setting.

You must be diligent with the participants you select since they must be comfortable interacting openly. If they are shy and don’t speak their mind, you won’t be able to surface those valuable user insights that you’re looking for.

As with most facilitated research, moderators can inadvertently influence the data, since they have the ability to sway comments and take the conversation in a different direction.

Lastly, groups can be difficult to pull together since you have to coordinate and schedule participants so that they are in the same room at the same time.

Summary of User Research Methodology

2021年11月9日 留下评论

Recently I am reading the book 用户体验:理论与实践(新编21世纪心理学系列教材)User Experience: Theory and Practice.

In this textbook, the very important methodology in user experience is user research Methodology. In Chapter 3, user research methods are explained in detail. These common methods are questionnaire, observation, interviews, focus groups, portrait and experimental method. I am now teaching another bilingual course Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design this term. In Chapter 1 and 3, common research methodologies and contextual data gathering smart product design methods are mentioned. Common research methodologies such as surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, contextual inquiry, comparative analysis, usability testing and observational research are presented in one table. Contextual data gathering smart product design methods such as field study user observation (Preece et al. 1994), identify stakeholders (Taylor 1990), survey of existing users (Preece et al. 1994), context of use analysis (Thomas and Bevan 1995; Maguire 2001a, 2001b), diary keeping (Poulson, Ashby, and Richardson 1996) and task analysis (Kirwan and Ainsworth 1992) are illustrated in another table. Many of these methods are included in user research methodology. But these methods are not explained and elaborated in detail. In order to give us a global and total review on these important user research methodologies, I will have a summary to illustrate them within later posts.

Curriculum Ideology in the Bilingual Course this Term

2021年10月17日 留下评论

I have published two posts to introduce curriculum ideology in the course Human Factors Engineering. I am now teaching another bilingual course Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design this term. During the teaching process, I still add ideological items in Chapter 3 and Chapter 9.

When introducing user-centered system engineering design method of smart product in Chapter 3, through the introduction of the policy background of the rapid growth of human factors engineering discipline since the “19th National Congress”, we learned that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. The main contradiction has been transformed into the contradiction between people’s growing needs for a better life and the unbalanced and inadequate development. Human factors and ergonomics provides strong support for solving the main social contradiction in this new era. In current electronics product design process, user-centered micro-innovation is encouraged to improve user experience and stimulate consumption potential, demonstrating the supporting role of user experience design in promoting supply-side reforms and quality-strengthening national strategic actions.

In the Chapter 9, user interaction process with product design model is introduced to enumerate the actual application process of Huawei Human Factors & User Experience Laboratory in mobile user interface, which helps students establish a right confidence in the broad application prospects of human factors and ergonomics, a human-oriented scientific thinking method and the spirit of facing challenges in the study and work.

Start Preparing for Graduation Design Topics for The New Year

2020年12月31日 留下评论

At this time each year, we must start to prepare for graduation design topics for students who will graduate next year. With reference to previous years, students freely choose their graduation design instructors, and then further adjustments will be made later. Since the college began to implement the tutorial system, most students have chosen their own tutor when choosing an instructor under no special circumstances. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, my research direction is still unpopular in the department, so I will naturally choose fewer students.

At the same time, I also begin to prepare for topics on the graduation project. The topics can be prepared by the instructor, or students can make their own propositions, and the teacher can check and realize two-way topic selection. Also, in the previous blog post “Experience of Tutorial Students Participating in Research Training Program”, it was mentioned that in terms of topic selection for graduation design, considering that some students have gone through scientific research training before who have accumulated some relevant skills and experience, they continued to improve the original topic selection on the original basis which could reflect the typical research topic selection inheritance and continuity.

Based on the current research direction and subject content, I also initially made a list of topics.

1. Topics on virtual simulation for Ergonomic design

(1) Modeling and improved design of musical rocking chair based on Pro/E

(2) Modeling and simulation design of new foldable dining chair/bar chair based on Pro/E

(3) Other household products for Ergonomic design

2. Topics on mechanical structure design of experimental equipment for rehabilitation

(1) Research on methods and equipment for cervical spine stability evaluation

(2) Research on methods and equipment for lumbar stability evaluation

(3) Design of automatic detection device for classic falling ball experiment

(4) Design of experimental device for sudden imbalance of lower limbs

3. Topics on Ergonomic research direction of upper limb support

(1) Ergonomic research and development of hand support for laptop

(2) Ergonomic research and development of hand support for desktop

(3) Ergonomic research and development of hand support for tablet

4. Topics on the research direction of chronic neck pain and fatigue mechanism of “heads-down tribe” on campus

(1) Interview/scale survey on mobile phone use behavior and musculoskeletal system discomfort of “heads-down tribe” on campus

(2) Research on the observation method of mobile phone use behavior of “heads-down tribe” on campus in different situations

(3) Surface electromyography experiments and upper limb musculoskeletal system discomfort scale evaluation of mobile phone use and operation of “heads-down tribe” on campus in different situations

5. Research on Human-Machine Interface satisfaction and interaction design and interface development

(1) The impact of advertising information and advertising presentation methods on WeChat/QQ/other APP advertising attention

(2) Research on eye movement of visual contrast and intent affecting the attention of advertising keywords

(3) The influence of visual guidance on the learning performance of multimedia teaching materials

(4) Research on eye movement of the homepage of the digital library on the visual attractiveness of young people

(5) Innovative design of E-commerce platform/mobile payment man-machine interface

(6) User interface design based on usability engineering

(7) Context-based student evaluation system interface development and design

Future Demand for Emerging Jobs: Human Factors and Ergonomics in Product Design

2020年10月17日 留下评论

It is the sixth time for me to teach an elective course related with methods and techniques on Human Factors and Ergonomics in product design this term. It will help the students open up a new professional job search field in the direction of human factors engineering. More and more graduate students of this major are going to manufacturing enterprises for consumer products esp. electronic and information products. Now this new course will enhance them another opportunity to expand their career choice for ergonomic design in this field. Because there are few special stuff performing in this job while it is really recommended during the whole process.

The employment prospects of Ergonomics are getting better every year. Few people understood this major in the first few years, so there was little relevance between the working field and this major after graduation. But in recent years, as the basic life has been met, people’s needs for beauty, comfort and convenience have increased, which makes larger companies realize its importance. For example, Shanghai Commercial Aircraft Corporation had a few positions in the school recruitment last year. The professional requirement was clearly written as Ergonomics. The automotive industry has also begun to recruit graduates from such majors. In addition, many Internet companies have begun to attach importance to human-machine interface design. Therefore, the employment prospects in the next few years must be very clear.

In order to gain the demand and request for such positions after graduation, under graduate students should pay attention to interdisciplinary integration and strengthen the recognition of the basic theories and methods of human factors engineering discipline in the field of product design. They are required to understand the importance of Ergonomics in product design, establish a user-oriented product design concept, and be familiar with the most commonly used research methods and techniques, which can lay a good professional foundation for future engagement in design-related work. Such methods and techniques are as follows: user-centered product design methods and the application of information technology in product design, especially conceptual design and product usability evaluation technologies and methods, as well as user demand analysis methods and user interaction design models.

After four years’ study in this major, they can analyze and solve problems from the perspective of systems engineering and achieve the ability to design safe, reliable, and useable products. The training of a variety of professional skills in four years will meet the needs of the market and enterprises for product interaction designers.