Webinar: Intro to UX

Image of a woman's hand on a laptop with a smart phone and a notebook and pencil next to it

Today we had on Laura Quin, Rachel Harris, and Dan Jackson who presented A Whirlwind Tour of User Experience. In it we defined user experience and figured out how to determine your audience, understand their perspective, and collect their data. From there we looked at two case studies, Ohio Legal Help presented by Rachel and NuLawLab by Dan.

This webinar has a few high level general takeaways and many smaller specific ones. The larger ones were ideas like it doesn’t take a very large sample size to provide useful information while the smaller ones were things like how to prepare to do interviews and is it ok to some tips on arranging logistics for gathering information in the field.

What We’ll Cover

1.Introduction to “User Experience”

2.Defining Your Audience

3.Understanding How They View The World

4.Getting Their Reactions

5.Ohio Legal Help Case Study

6.NuLawLab Case Study

What Is “User Experience”?

The sum total of your audience’s interaction. For a great user experience, your product and services should :

Meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother.” - the Neilson Norman Group

How do we get there? By learning from those in our audience.


Thinking it through in three Parts

1.) Defining Your Audience Who’s in the audience? What are their characteristics?

2.) Understanding How they View the World How does the audience currently do this? How do they think about it?

3.) Getting Their Reactions What do they think about things that you can actually put in front of them?


Defining Your audience

Key Research Questions

•Who specifically is the target audience?

•How many people?

•What is their literacy level? Tech proficiency?

•What are the general trends of their needs?


Potential Research Methods


•Quick conversations with SMEs

•Review of existing research

•Surveys of target audience

•Creation of personas

Start by thinking it through


Define your focus– as specifically as possible

•What defines them to be part of your audience?

•Who isn’t in your audience?

•If you have a number of audiences, can you prioritize them?


Is there existing research?

Academic research is used surprisingly little. Use it to help understand:

•Demographics of your audience

•Characteristics –including what others thought important to find out

•Key themes

Analytics data

Google or social media analytics– from your own or other people’s sites– can provide an overview of demographics, interests, and behavior.



Quick Conversations with SMEs

If nothing else, talk to line staff—subject matter experts— who work directly with your target audience:

•Both in a legal aid context and outside

•Get an understanding of typical situations and barriers

•At least three to four people


Surveys can be a useful way to get answers to a few questions from a lot of people.  Some tips:

•Surveys are harder than you may think

•Unless you’re targeting a very discrete group (i.e. Arizona Bar lawyers), it’s hard to get a representative sample

•They need to be written carefully


Understanding How they View the world

Key Research Questions

•What would motivate them to use the system?

•What are their goals, related to the system?

•How does the target audience currently achieve their related goals?

•How do they think about those related processes?

•What works well about their current process? What are the gaps?


Potential Research Methods

•Quick conversations with SMEs

•Review of existing research

•Interviews, focus groups, surveys with members of target audience

•Creation of mental models or process flows


A great way to understand context. Tips:

•Write out what questions you’ll ask, but make it a conversation

•Start with easy questions

•Think of yourself as their apprentice to understand how they think and what they do

•Talk to 3-4 people for each demographic you care about

Focus groups

Quicker but generally not as good as interviews. Tips:

•Again, write out questions but make it a conversation

•Groups of 5-8 or so

•Think through exercises the group can do together

•Try to prevent power dynamics

•Make sure to define how you’ll record the conversation


Recruiting is often the hard part

Make a careful plan for how you’ll recruit people for interviews or focus groups:

•If your interview is short, go where the people are already

•Incentives (like $10 gift card) can be a big help for low-income populations

•Remember that many people will cancel appointments scheduled in advance (less if they’re in a professional capacity)

Getting Their reactions

Key Research Questions

•How does the audience use other people’s systems?

•How do your design ideas work in real life?

•How well is the target audience able to understand and use the design?

•What suggestions to they have to improve the design?

Potential Research Methods

•Paper prototyping

•User testing

•Co-design sessions

User Testing Basics

One of the best ways to understand how people will respond. Tips:

•Plan on 4-5 people per half-hour scenario

•Script out the test carefully to try ensure a smooth test

•Let them drive; ask them to think out loud

•Try to give them a real scenario

•Recruiting, again, may be tricky

Co-design sessions

A combination of focus group, design sessions, and user testing.

•Bring together a number of different stakeholders– users, partners, funders, etc

•Design activities to understand how they think about the subject

•Ask them to sketch or create ideas

•Or provide things for them to respond to

Voice of the Consumer Survey

  • 800 Respondents
  • At least 50% making $30k/year or less
  • Cost and confusion about the legal system were by far the biggest access hurdles
  • Target strategies to support Ohio Legal Help success/adoption:
  • Directness and Simplicity – eliminating “the use of legal mumbo jumbo.”
  • Cost-savings – giving users valuable, contextualized information
  • Security protection – respondents desired to see a reputable, trustworthy website

Mental Model

•Maps out the thought process of a person with a legal issue through the various stages of resolving the issue

•Concise way to compile a large amount of qualitative data from multiple sources

•Used to develop user testing strategy

•Communicates user’s perspective to outside audiences


User Testing

•23 user tests of individuals in 5 Ohio counties—a mix of urban, rural, and suburban locations

•Tested four websites that are similar to our proposed site

•Estimated that almost all of test subjects were at 300% of poverty or below

•Only 3 male testers out of 23

•Primarily testing to evaluate the navigation and high-level design


•2 testers visiting 5 testing sites in 5 days

•Tested at sites with walk-in services and high-volumes of clients in our target demographic (low-income Ohioans) who would expect to spend a significant amount of time waiting around (a court self-help center and community action agencies)

•Offered $10 gift cards to participate in a 20-30 minute interview

•At 2 sites, staff members pre-arranged some appointments, but the majority of participants were recruited on the spot by staff

•Used two laptops with recording software—we had the capability to run two tests at once, but preferred to have one person run the test and the other take notes


•Walmart gift cards had high value

•Enlist staff in recruitment if possible

•Opening lines – “what do you do?” was much less effective than “are you from around here?”

•Each tester primarily tested one of two scenarios – became experts in our scripts, allowed for better recall of tests

•Record notes right away

•Watch yourself

•Give yourself a break



You can find the slides used in this webinar here.

You can find the Ohio Legal Writeup here:

Last updated on .

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