User Research – towards insight and success

Update: Building on the success of Civic Tech Toronto’s first user research 101 workshop, we are thrilled to invite you to join us at the next User Research 101 Workshop, presented by Urban+Digital.

Register here!

User Research Recap

You have a great idea on how to address a specific problem you see in your community. It could help communities understand how the city budget works, a new way to sign-up for parks and recreation programs, or even a way for local residents to share ideas and communicate them to the right city official. The challenge: you want to get started right away, but there are still a few unanswered questions. It would be great to know if you have made the right assumptions. For example, “Will the people you’re trying to help see the relevancy and benefits of your idea?”, “Is the medium (app, program, etc) you’ve chosen the right approach to your strategy?”, “How will people even learn about my idea?”  Enter human-centered design — a collection of tools and an attitude that encourages learning directly from those who are impacted by the potential solutions.

With that in mind, in February Civic Tech Toronto piloted its first ever workshop, User Research 101. The workshop was an introductory overview of human-centered design (HCD) with a focus on user research in particular. Human-centered design (HCD) is a process of understanding the people you are designing for by learning directly from them. Human-centered design can help you uncover what matters to them, why, and any factors or behaviours to be considered as part of the end solution that’s created.

Cheryl speaking to group about User Research
We had a terrific response to the announcement of the workshop, thirty-five participants took part
and another 70 showed their interest by joining the waiting list. Attendees included people from not-for-profit, government and education, among a wide variety of other sectors. The introductory workshop was a pilot to gauge community interest in learning about user-centred design, and we heard loud and clear – there is definitely interest and enthusiasm towards the subject.

 “Human user design can be seen as a bridge between planning and creating. The tools provided in the workshop enable a clearer dialogue between collaborators establishing a level playing field of understanding and ensuring that the user perspective is not forgotten. Increases likelihood of project success.” -- Workshop Participant
Structured in two parts, the first half of the workshop offered an introduction to HCD as well as its benefits. The second half of the workshop featured interactive activities that gave attendees an opportunity to work through a mock scenario of user interviews, including how to derive insights that could help in designing more user-centric solutions.

Participant feedback to the workshop was terrific with many indicating that they found the information useful and could see themselves’ using the process in their own projects today. The majority also indicated they would be extremely likely to attend and recommend future workshops. Many people expressed a sincere ‘thanks’ to the workshop organizers, Cheryl Li, Helén Marton, Meghan Hellstern, Gabe Sawhney, Mark Freeman, Howard Tam and Joy Nelson.

Three people go through activity 1. The interviewing users.

quote2 - Participant liked the opportunity to experience the user interview session

UR101 Group review of observations from interview sessions

“The event has been incredibly well organized and thought-through, and I feel I learned a lot from it.”

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