Exposure Hours Workshop - Boosting visibility of users to broader audiences

A few artifacts that came from an Exposure Hours workshop

Research has to have an impact

Whenever I can get developers and product teams in a room to watch users interact with their experiences/tools/products, I get faster buy-in and more engagement. At edX we are building a new User Experience practice from the ground up so in addition to supporting a team of UX practitioners, I also help define vision, strategy, set best practices, and work to win hearts and minds. 

Goal: Host regular and on-going workshops that are open to the entire organization to showcase unfiltered and unvarnished videos from user studies

At a Watch and Learn we showcased a Mobile usability study and people in the room pulled out their phones to follow along.

At a Watch and Learn we showcased a Mobile usability study and people in the room pulled out their phones to follow along.

Footholds help: I facilitated our conversation by building a simple framework. Workshop participants got a small packet including the research protocol questions, tasks, and a worksheet for each video we watched. The worksheet encourages note-taking during the observation session so that anyone, no matter their level of familiarity with UX or research, can participate easily. The sheet also allows for a little sketching and iteration.

Keep them in the room: We have an open and free-wheeling conversation after each video to talk about what we saw, what we heard, and what we might do next. Participants regularly express shock, surprise, and delight at the things they see and hear. We discuss the value of watching what people do versus what people say. We've come up with follow-on research projects, and we've sketched out possible solutions to recurring problems we've observed as a group.

Jared Spool's article touts the value of exposure hours - as little as 1 hour every six weeks - and based on my experiences, I'm inclined to agree with his assessment. While we are not necessarily running robust field studies with entire teams going out, this is an affordable, flexible, and scalable solution that still yields positive results.