The purpose of this survey is to provide information on current digital design practice. Anyone working in User Research, UX practice, or digital-product design is invited to participate.
It is important that participation is voluntary, and the first question asks for confirmation that consent is freely given to use the data in our research. That is the only compulsory question, and there is freedom to skip any others, but we hope that you will not find the need to.
We are interested in typical practices within organisations involved in digital design, so we do not ask for any personal information and the data recorded are anonymised by the survey provider. We do not ask for the name of the organisation, or for any details that would normally be considered to be commercially sensitive.
To understand the maturity of User Experience practice in the company, we ask how it could best be described on a scale from Unrecognised to Institutionalised. The categories have been aligned with descriptions used in other studies to allow direct comparison. Answers to the maturity question may be influenced by the role of the person giving the answer, so we ask two questions about the role they work in.
We ask about the kind of activities the role involves, and the level of responsibility they have. Job titles are not a reliable guide to seniority, and may not be consistent between organisations, so instead we ask how their level of autonomy could best be described. The descriptions used are based on the seven point scale used in the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). These have some overlap between levels, and are not as easy to choose between as we would like, but they should provide a common basis for comparison.
We ask about company size. This can sometimes be a proxy for "do you do the things small / medium / large companies typically do". In our case, we want to find out if there is really a company size relationship with typical practice, or whether other factors are more relevant. Similarly, we ask what industry sectors are covered by your work, by which we mean which sectors do your clients come from. The categories used for industry sector are the top level Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) used by the Office for National Statistics.
For convenience, we use the Design Council (double diamond) naming conventions when referring to design activities, whether they happen in distinct phases or continuously. By discovery, we mean all the activity that takes place to understand the problem, before thinking in detail about solutions. We start by asking whether pain points (things that users dislike) and pleasure points (things that users like) are considered during discovery. We then ask if patterns of use that the designers want to avoid are considered, and whether idea generation techniques are used to understand the problem. Finally we ask how many people from the current or potential user community you typically plan to involve in user research sessions, and how this compares to the number involved in usability testing.
If the previous answer indicated that idea generation sessions are used as part of discovery, then we ask how long the sessions typically last and who is invited to them. We then provide a list of common techniques used with groups and ask which are used, and whether the same methods are used for individual thinking. If different techniques are used when working as individuals, we ask which.
The way discovery discussions are managed may be significant, so we ask whether an agenda or standard play-book is followed. We also ask if one person leads the meeting, and if so who that is.
One way to distil User Research for future use is to construct fictional characters with the behaviours and characteristics seen in the real user population. We are interested in how widespread the practice of creating these personas is, and what practitioners actually do with them. We ask if personas are used to share insights, and if so who with. If they are used as a design tool, is it to challenge features, or priorities, or the user's motivation, or some combination of those? If they are used to capture knowledge, which design activities are involved?
Users are People
When researching the lived experience of a product it may be important that those involved are considered as complete people, not just users of your product. For the purposes of the survey, we talk about users because it simplifies the questions and if it is their business relationship with the product that is of interest then we feel that "user" is generally the right word, but we recognise that it is not always appropriate.