Aha! So that’s what it was all about!

in Lucky dip

It’s funny, reflecting on what you learned on a project, what seemed to work, what felt right.
Sample from an affinity model showing some post notes with data.

Yesterday I finished a five-week user research project in the employment and recruitment area, working alongside another researcher, Ash. I thought back how we’d tried hard to establish a rapport with the client at that first meeting, listened to his problems, his anxieties, his hopes.

I seem to go through the stages of user research almost without thinking, guided by years of experience I guess. Interview the client, collect all related documents, find out if anyone else in the organisation is working on a related area, speak with internal staff – all the initial wide lens work  to gather all the thoughts, issues, and materials of potential relevance.

With a sharper focus, in the next stage of our research, our ‘real’ interview questions were chosen by hypothesising and proposing issues that could be explored. We interviewed 29 participants. The whole process is one of clarification, of sniffing-out data like blood hounds, of ensuring that the data gathered is grounded in people’s experience. And on it goes. Immersive and satisfying.

But why so satisfying? I believe it’s because we build a model of reality, one that has a coherent meaning to us, something we can believe in, something we can share with others.

More than anything, though, you get that uniquely satisfying ‘Aha!’ moment when all the parts, concepts, and relationships you’ve been working with finally form a Gestalt totality from what is already known.

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