When people ask me what I do as a UX researcher my answer is usually along the lines of “I watch people struggle with technology without judging them.” And I’ve watched hundreds of people struggle with technology.
In an article that neatly brings together UX research and inclusive design, Sonia Jacob suggests a framework that makes collecting stories of struggle and exclusion an integral part of design research.
Incorporating inclusivity in this way takes time, but it’s key to developing a mindset for internalizing inclusivity. Consider the act of sharing stories like these as building blocks to help you create a structure that supports inclusion. Good researchers can develop these skills and expertise over time to gather these insights. To start, socialize the definitions amongst your team.
Sensitizing a design team to listen to people’s (negative or challenging) experiences without judging them, but instead learning from them and distilling design drivers from them is a fantastic example of how qualitative social science method can play a key role in expanding “UX research” beyond a practice often limited to validating ready-made assumptions further down the process.
Everyone has a set of things that make them feel included or excluded. It’s more nuanced than we think. But hearing individual stories of inclusion and exclusion in your research can help bring hidden insights to the forefront and make real product changes. These stories are the research findings you need.
This is one of the key reasons I have been advocating the consideration of “non-users” in “design research”: by learning about motives and experiences of those who may struggle with technology, we can actually learn the most about it.