Today we protested outside the UXLX conference to Stop Lab Testing (Usability Lab Testing).
I co-founded Webnographer with James, because I believed that we needed new techniques and methods to carry out user research.
The lab testing method is over 20 years old now. Since then there has been a large shift in the technology we use, and our behaviour. We have moved on from using a desktop computer in one fixed environment 20 years ago, to portable devices (smart phones, tablet PCs, and laptops) in a multitude of contexts today. This has changed how and where people access the internet, and how much distraction or attention is given to an interaction in a given environment.
With this huge shift in tools and behaviour, the methods we use to understand individual behaviours needs to change too.
We need methods that help evaluate behaviour in its multitude of contexts, environments, languages, and countries. We need to test products with a multitude of customers, not just 10 people in London, or Lisbon, or Berlin. We need to get feedback independent of where people are located. We need to test with large numbers of users in diverse locations to be able to quantify the impact of design changes.
As Marshall McLuhan said: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
This means that User Experience Research must be reshaped too. At Webnographer we are building those tools to help you understand people, so that you can make better products too.
To find out more, follow @webnographer on Twitter.