CHI 2014: Case Studies – Realities of Fieldwork

An Ethnographic Study of South African Mobile Users by Susan Dray

  • [10 minutes of technical problems; harumph]
  • consulting with undisclosed client
  • study from 2008 to inspire ideas on entering African market; interested in mobile devices; broad scope, with tentative ideas in safety and finance; 3 months from first encounter to final report
  • Khayelitsha Township
  • assumptions: rural people are unbanked FALSE; travel long distance on foot TRUE; need to send money by car/bus FALSE
  • 11 families in informal area shacks, formal areas, ADP housing; also 3 families in rural area receiving money; all had basic or feature phones
  • challenges: feasibility – (approvals took a long tome plus other logistics), access to participants (recruiting), localization and translation (Xhosa); logistics; safety; trade-offs;
  • results: identify new product areas; body of knowledge on urban and rural; develop empathy for people at the bottom of the period

Adopting Users' Designs to Improve a Mobile App by Kate Sangwon Lee

  • Haver Corp: make many apps include Line and Naver App
  • many changes to apps over time; for small changes user research is often skipped
  • developed quick and participatory method; 44 users in 3 days including prototyping; cafe study + participatory design
  • method: interview (10 min) -> participatory design (15 min) -> concept evaluation (5 min)
  • Challenges: approaching stranger in cafe (interview 1 or 2 at a time, use cafe cards for pay, keep it short); prototyping (printed background of UI, large enough to record descriptions, colored pencils)
  • results: 1 dominant pattern (frequently accessed functions) and 2 minor patterns (practical info like weather and horoscopes); prototype and test 3 different prototypes
  • strengths: cheap and fast; easily identify subtle needs; visual outputs easy to understand and share; easy to conduct; mobile; multiple domains – mobile, small PC UIs, small hardware products, mobile service concept
  • limitations: small areas of UI, experienced users, no in-depth thoughts, hard to express interaction

User-Centered Design for More Efficient Drill-Rig Control Systems by Katri Koli

  • Leadin Inc (UX firm) working with Sandvik (mining equipment company)
  • open-pit mine surface drilling equipment; drill holes, fill with explosives, blasting
  • precise positioning of drill very important; 6 components, 2 directions of movement, 12 motions, traditionally use 2 joysticks
  • develop automatic positioning mode; easier, faster, more accurate, user acceptance?
  • method: contextual inquiry, iterative prototyping with simulator, usability testing
  • study: 4 operative site visits; winter conditions; focus on hole positioning; 4 users of various experience
  • challenges: restricted environments; recruiting participants through mine site; challenging environment (cabin designed for one operator, researchers behind operator chair, winter clothing even inside, may not be anything going on when there, safety prep, notebooks but possibly not photos or videos); getting enough interesting data (only 2-3 minutes of positioning in 60 minutes of work); working with simulator rather than real world for prototypes and testing
  • collected 800 notes; need a clear research focus; affinity on all, but additional analysis on 1/4 that were about positioning; iterative prototyping and 2 rounds of 6 usability tests with drill rig simulator
  • results: automatic positioning was faster, much more accurate, and easy to learn and use; products will ship this year; methods work with industrial users

Panel Question and Answer Session

  • Q: would participatory methods work in the South Africa study? useful after the field visits when products were being explored
  • Q: how were users compensated? mines: small gifts, caf├ęs: coffee cards worth about $10, need to pay based on local culture and environment
  • Q: did you run into situations where you weren't willing to work with individuals? Korea: hard to approach middle-aged men, mines: no issues, Africa: screener was actually a little too strict
  • Q: did miners worry about effects of automation? increases safety and is more of a supervisory role so helped avoid uncomfortable work situations
  • Q: how did you pick the right users? Africa: worked with local marketing firms
  • Q: why two translators? difficult to translate directly, so played off each other and could also run errands and help deal with situations
  • Q: how did you deal with being from a very different culture? working with locals very important
  • Q: usability test didn't use the same operators? couldn't access actual operators but used company trainers who were familiar with work
  • Q: did you have to consider non-standard conditions or failure conditions? have to be able to get out of full auto mode, still need to teach manual ways
  • Q: how to avoid self reporting bias, an accurate baseline? mines: observe actual work in environment; cafe: many of our team are also app users so piloted with them;
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