Nielsen norman Group: Research internship

Studied users in 3 countries for 2 different projects while traveling across the globe and collaborating with 3 researchers in 4 different time zones! 

When  May to August 2016

Role  Research Assistant


Quick summary  

 

During the summer of 2016, I interned with Nielsen Norman Group mentored by Jakob Nielsen, Amy Schade and Raluca Budiu.  

I worked on two separate projects that focussed on users from different parts of the world. Here are the results of the research available on the official NNG website, complete with the process and findings:

Website design issues that have endured the test of time: a remote usability study with US And UK users

User research to understand mobile user behavior in India and this lead to a neat finding- App lockers are used in the context of shared phone use!

Direct Manipulation: A HCI concept demystified

 

User Research: Mobile User Behavior In India

 

I was spending part of my work assignment in India so I took on ownership of running an in-person, lab-style, user research study mobile phone use.

I got to do everything from renting out space to designing the study to actually running the sessions. In this study, the challenge was in the actual recruitment of participants. I really wanted to have as representative a sample as possible in terms of education, income, smartphone owned and years of use. My recruitment sources involved: posting ads in Facebook groups, walking up to people on the street and cornering friends and family. 

The effort paid off as by the end of the study I had research insights that were quite interesting. Here are the two articles where I have summarized the findings- Mobile user behavior in India and App Lockers for Shared Phone Use.   

 

Remote website usability study: how are the web designs of today doing? 

 

I Helped conduct a remote usability study with over 120 users from the US and UK to unearth usability issues of present day websites.  

Website selection

Present day websites is a broad term, so my first task was to choose a representative set of sites that spanned from e-commerce to government sites. This involved scouring the websites of small to medium companies; we avoided large companies as they usually had an above average budget to test and rectify their designs. The usability issues of say Amazon would not be generalizable to most other sites out there.

Task Writing

Since this was a remote study having the right set of tasks was of the essence. The key was to drive the users to use the website, explore and potentially uncover or run-into design yays and nays. Task writing was a challenge in itself and I have become somewhat of a pro at crafting these(If I may say so myself) to get the users to engage. Needless to say, this expertise came after days of writing, reviewing, rewriting and piloting. 

Analysis

Once the remote study videos started rolling in, the analysis began through video coding. Here again, it was interesting to see how users of today, who have a greater experience with the web, navigate sites. The analysis involved detailed and structured documenting to observe and categorize different types of issues. 

The research analysis done in this project is being turned into a book but we have also rolled out Top 10 design issues article that captures the highlights.

 

Takeaways?

 

I was simultaneously involved with two awesome research projects and learnt the art of conducting fast-paced research.  

I also got to dig into some of my HCI knowledge and write articles like this one on Direct manipulation

And most importantly, I learned which questions to ask and how to get the answers. 

(Getting to meet Bruce Tognazzini, Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen was an added bonus!!)