"The most valuable asset of a successful design team is the information they have about their users. When teams have the right information, the job of designing a powerful, intuitive, easy-to-use interface becomes tremendously easier. When they don't, every little design decision becomes a struggle."
Techniques such as focus groups, usability tests, and surveys are valuable, but according to Jared M. Spool from UIE, the most powerful tool in the toolbox is field studies. While it might be the most expensive technique to use, it has contributed to some of the most innovative designs.
With field studies, the team gets immersed in the environment of their users and allows them to observe critical "unspeakable" details. It eliminates guesswork and opinion wars, by providing the designers with a deep understanding of the users context, terminology, and processes.
- The article Field Studies: The Best Tool to Discover User Needs
- March 07, 2004