In the early stages of product development, it is important to investigate and understand the needs and requirements of future customers through various methods. These studies are usually done through physical meetings with customers, which is not possible in these times of social isolation. Pontus Wallgren, senior lecturer at the Division of Design & Human Factors, Department of Industrial and Materials Science, leads the project and provides the background:
“We want to do research on what possibilities to perform remotely advanced user studies. Which methods can be transferred to digital platforms? Can you develop completely new methods? Is it possible to conduct advanced user studies remotely and could there even be benefits to gain, also after the pandemic has faded out?”
A group of 40 students, divided into smaller groups, conducted a series of experiments of various types of advanced user studies. The methods used were e.g. Co-creation, Enactment, Wizard of Oz, Cultural probes, etc., combined with traditional methods such as interviews, focus groups and observations. These methods normally require physical meetings with the participants, but they are now being implemented remotely.
“In total, we have 25 hours of recorded discussions and in addition to these, written documentation from a number of sub-studies that we will analyze and compile. Afterwards, we will share the lessons learned on how to do user studies without physical meetings. In times of more globalization and unforeseen events, this knowledge will be important, not least considering that you may avoid doing studies in a foreign place and therefore miss important needs and requirements," Pontus Wallgren sums up.