The golden gate bridge

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Users – A meaningful summer research experience

My name is Ruochen, and recently I am doing an internship project at the HTO research group. The project that I am working on is about developing personas and think-aloud methods to better describe the digital working environment. The aim of this research is to promote a smart workplace and a healthy work environment.

I started this exciting research journey in June. My supervisor has already collected a bunch of data, i.e. 59 students’ reports from Reykjavik University. My job is to analyze the raw data, perform data reduction, and gain main themes for 21 questions from 59 reports. In order to facilitate the analysis work, I created a google sheet file and named one sheet for one question. Then, I extracted answers for one question from all students and put those answers in the sheet for that question. This was my first iteration of the analysis work. During this process, I tried to get familiar with the raw data. I have to say, to my surprise, it was more interesting than what I have expected. Sometimes, some funny answers even made me laugh. Some answers, however, really made me reflect on the knowledge I have about HCI. The second iteration of the analysis focused on coding the data. I highlighted phrases and sentences that jumped out as relevant or potentially interesting. Then I came up with shorthand labels or codes to describe their contents. The third iteration of the analysis was to highlight various phrases in different colors corresponding to different codes. After I finished the third iteration and had codes from the raw data, I started to identify patterns among the codes and to come up with potential themes. Most of the time, I combined several codes into a single theme. Sometimes, some codes could become themes in their own right. Moreover, some codes were discarded because they were too vague or not relevant enough. Now the potential themes for all 21 questions have already been identified. Next will be fine-tuning the potential themes by reviewing themes, developing thematic maps, and defining and naming themes.

While conducting the analysis, I also realized that designers and developers did hope to know more about their users and wanted to create an artifact that benefits users. However, the traditional HCI tools or methods somehow hindered them from understanding more of their users since the situation where people use technologies is becoming complicated and diverse. That is why we, as HCI researchers, come to stage and pioneer on the way to develop new methods to bridge the gap between designers/developers and the users. What a meaningful research project it is!

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