Keynote summary: The power of pessimism

What happens when a user research session goes wrong – and what could be done to prevent such a downward spiral into research hell?

The research team at Redbubble has come up with a fantastic activity to help understand what can go wrong so you can plan and discuss how to prevent the issues that unfold during the activity.

We won’t tell you too much about the details of the activity in case you are planning on running the session with your team. If you’re in a small group, each person plays a role (researcher, assessor, designer, stakeholder and participant) but at camp, the audience were the assessors and we had some fantastic volunteers acting as the different roles.

Before kicking off the activity, Jo Lumsden and Emily Murray from the Redbubble research team gave us a bit of an intro and THEN quizzed us on our research crimes. With over 300 people in the room, almost everyone had committed at least 1 crime!

Are you ready for our first session? This should be fun!

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Here’s a few tips from Emily & Jo on preparing for user research:

  • Take everyone on the journey including what the goal of research is, what questions should be asked, who you are focusing on as participants
  • Anticipate who will be at the research and brief them before the session
  • Stay open to the unexpected though try to prevent mistakes
  • Realise some participants just won’t show up! Over recruit by 20%
  • Consider filming the sessions or have a video link. Especially good if you think stakeholders could interrupt the flow
  • Do a dry run of the session with your team mates so you can alter before a real participant
  • Be open to results you may not have expected

We’d like to thank Emily & Jo for a fantastic keynote and a big thanks to our volunteers! Our researcher: Aakanksha Chhikara, stakeholder: Adrienne Tan, designer: George Tsigounis and participant: Donna Spencer

And thanks to Camp volunteers Aneesha Govil and Fiona Knight for helping with session notes!


Redbubble’s article on Medium re: Cards against Calamity (including the link to the cards which Redbubble has open sourced!)

Rebecca Jackson‘s sketchnote of the session below.

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