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@ned_potter

University of York
ETHNOGRAPHY + POSSIBILITIES
FOR LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES AND MUSEUMS

UX
At the University of York Library weve undertaken
several projects using UX techniques, which has given
us a hugely rich understanding of our users. Its
increasingly embedded in our way of working. These
slides detail some of the techniques weve used.
You can read more about our ethnographic work on
the Lib-Innovation Blog: theres a link at the end of
the presentation (as Slideshare doesnt allow working
links in the first few slides online).
TERMINOLOGY
TERMINOLOGY
Ethnographic Museum
Ethnographic Archive
Ethnographic Library
TERMINOLOGY
Ethnographic Museum
Ethnographic Archive
Ethnographic Library

This is about using ethnography to observe


users of libraries, archives and museums
INTRODUCTION: A UX PRIMER
UX has
become an
IP
UMBRELLA
term to
cover a
suite of
techniques
that can be
divided
roughly into
two parts:
ethnography
and design
SIMPLY PUT
Ethnographic techniques and observation lead to a
deeper and more complex understanding of user
needs and behaviour than traditional data gather
methods normally allow. (Examples follow)
D
E
S
Simply put, prioritises the end user, their
HUMAN CENTRED I needs, and their behaviour, at
every stage of the design
G process, with an aim to making
several small changes to
N improve the user experience
In recent years the User
Experience in Libraries
movement (UX) has
spread from the US
and Scandinavia
to the UK
UX
is
not
UX
is
not
Libraries are
using UX to
make an
IMPACT on
their users day
to day lives
What does all of
this have to do
with
What does all of
this have to do
with
PART ONE: ETHNOGRAPHY
7 KEY ETHNOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES

Observation / Behavioural Mapping


Unstructured and Semi-Structured
Interviews
Cognitive Mapping
Touchstone Tours
Love Letters / Breakup Letters
Cultural Probes
Graffiti Walls
Note your users as
they move through and
interact with the space.

1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping


Note your users as
they move through and
interact with the space.

What are
their paths?
What do they
see? What
do they use?
What do they
ignore?

1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping


1. Observation / Behavioural Mapping
Interview your subject about
their working / scholarly /
cultural LIFE, not just the
institution. Ask open
questions, based on what
theyre saying rather than
based on a pre-prepared list.

2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews


For example ask not
what e-resources do
you use? but whats
your process when
youre set an
assignment / job-
hunting?

2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews


For example ask not
what is your favourite
part of the museum?
but how do museum
visits fit in with your
other cultural
activities?

2. Unstructured / Semi-Structured Interviews


A brilliant jumping off point for the
interview is the Cognitive Map. Ask
your subject to draw a map from
memory.

3. Cognitive Maps
The Cognitive Map can be of a
building or space but it can also
be of a process, like researching
their family tree, or completing a
college assignment.

They have 6 minutes to do this,


changing colour of pen every
2 minutes.

3. Cognitive Maps
Note what they put down first,
whats a last minute addition, what
they leave out entirely. You can
code this later.

Then to introduce the unstructured


or semi-structured interview, ask
them to talk you through their
map. Use what they tell you
to inform your questions.

3. Cognitive Maps
3. Cognitive Maps
3. Cognitive Maps
3. Cognitive Maps
Rather than showing your users around, let them
take YOU on a tour of the building (and record
what they say). Does their understanding of
processes, systems and the space match your
expectations?

4. Touchstone Tours
Ask
your users
to write a letter
to a collection or
service (NOT a member
of staff!) either professing
their love for, or breaking up
with, that service. This seems
very gimmicky and wont work with
everyone, but when it does work it
really allows you to understand the
emotion engendered by the
user experiences

5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters


5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
5. Love Letters / Break-up Letters
Give your users the
tools they need to take
ethnography home with
them diary studies, a
voice recorder, the chance
to take pictures

Encourage them to record


feelings, events and
interactions.

6. Cultural Probes
Give your users a
feedback mechanism
which is quick, easy
and interactive

7. Graffiti Walls
7. Graffiti Walls
7. Graffiti Walls
These methods for
feedback gathering
tend to reveal very in-
depth and varied
views, feelings and
experiences
The key is not to get stuck on
the ethnography phase the next step
is to design changes to your service
based on what youve learned.
PART TWO: DESIGN
The aim is to tweak the
service to make the user
experience better. This
may mean a small number
of large changes you
never know what the data
will tell you but most
often this will mean a large
number of small changes
that positively influence the
user day to day

The Design Thinking process first defines the
problem and then implements the solutions,
always with the needs of the user demographic at
the core of concept development. This process
focuses on needfinding, understanding, creating,
thinking, and doing. At the core of this process is
a bias towards action and creation: by creating
and testing something, you can continue to learn
and improve upon your initial ideas.

Stanford Design School


(In other words: its iterative.
Rather than saving up your
design tweaks for one huge
change, go for a rapid-
prototyping model)
Make changes
early and often,
monitor your users
responses, and
dont be afraid
to fail.

Just make sure


you record and
learn from
failure
Perhaps its better to make something self-
righting than to aim for perfection. Can your
users find their own way out of difficulties?
Examples courtesy of
Modern Human

Use design techniques to help structure your thinking


PART THREE: UX-LED CHANGES
Here are some examples of changes: tweaks to our
services at the University of York, informed or
supported by our three major UX projects since 2015.
We installed hot-drinking-water taps,
for those who prefer to drink hot
water during the winter months
We changed the opening hours of
one of our sites to 24hrs, because
students told us they were reluctant
to use it if it meant setting up all
their stuff and then having to move
at 10pm when it previously closed
We added white-boards to the
Postgrad areas to try and help
foster a sense of community.
We bought blankets for all our sites.
It may not seem like much, but
We bought blankets for all our sites.
It may not seem like much, but
We changed the way our Flexible Loans system
works for the academic community, and data from
ethnographic fieldwork also fed into changes to the
catalogue front-end, and our reading list system
We changed the way we
communicate with our users
Examples of changes at other institutions include changing the
location of digital screens, to areas where theyll be actually
engaged with by a larger number of people
or of identifying why supposedly quiet areas were still thought of
as noisy by users solutions included oiling loud hinges on office
doors, and turning the volume down on self-issue machines
Another HEI put in more printers, more signage (both
physical and digital) and a phone charging station. Again,
none of these changes are huge on their own, but
THIS THIS THIS

THIS
= a better user experience,
happier users
Often UX fieldwork can be
the evidence and trigger
required to make the
changes youve known
you want to do for a while
FINALLY: NEXT STEPS
If youd like to try this at your library, museum or archive
(or any other organisation) heres a potential path forward:
1. Choose either a space or a demographic
1. Choose either a space or a demographic
2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try
out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to
start for space. Cognitive Mapping and
Interviews are good to do with a
demographic.
3. Practice on colleagues first!
1. Choose either a space or a demographic
2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try
out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to
start for space. Cognitive Mapping and
Interviews are good to do with a
demographic.
3. Practice on colleagues first!
4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a
specific problem. Be led by the data.
1. Choose either a space or a demographic
2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try
out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to
start for space. Cognitive Mapping and
Interviews are good to do with a
demographic.
3. Practice on colleagues first!
4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a
specific problem. Be led by the data.
5. As soon as you find something you can
change, design and implement the change
right away.
1. Choose either a space or a demographic
2. Choose some ethnographic fieldwork to try
out. Behavioural Mapping is a good way to
start for space. Cognitive Mapping and
Interviews are good to do with a
demographic.
3. Practice on colleagues first!
4. Try to avoid going in trying to solve a
specific problem. Be led by the data.
5. As soon as you find something you can
change, design and implement the change
right away.
6. Have fun!
SOME CREDITS

Thanks to Andy Priestner, Jenny All photos are CC0 (sourced via
Foster, Ingela Wahlgren and Carl Pixabay & Pexels) except the
Barrow for their examples of UX-led Touchstone Tour pic, courtesy of
changes. Follow them on Twitter for Georgina Cronin and the Modern
more good stuff! Human design cards, taken by me.
Read more about UX at the
University of York Library
libinnovation.blogspot.co.uk

a structured introduction to UX:


ned-potter.com

Find out about the UXLibs Conference:


uxlib.org

chat to me on twitter: @ned_potter

THANKS FOR LISTENING!