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Human by nature do mistakes and errors. With the implementation of computer in human life this error frequency can be reduced. Now -a-days this interactive system is increasing day by day. This HCI is very widely demanded where reliability and high level of safety and security, in financial considerations.
To go further in developing a HCI we need to understand the users who use the system, and their work environment. Many organizations sped much of their money in understanding their employees' needs and their work environment. There are many methods such as Focus Groups, Questionnaires, and interviews, monthly reviews, feedback reviews etc. This article finds out some of the methods that are related to the techniques relating to understanding the user. [a]
Techniques for Understanding Users.
There are many methods and techniques to gather information regarding users. Such as 1. Focus groups: Gathering the information from an invited group of people to share their thoughts, feelings and attitudes 2. Questionnaires, and 3. Interviews. Among these three most useful and powerful tools for gathering the information regarding the users below explained the last two methods i.e., Questionnaires and Interviews for this article.[b]
Before going to the people a set of questions are prepared. This is the method of getting responses from the people for the set of questions prepared earlier. A questionnaire is the first method a researcher will consider when handling a research project. However, designing a questionnaire is complex and time-consuming and the quality of the data collected is determined by the quality of the questionnaire used. Process of designing and using a questionnaire is vital. The focus should be on the aims of the investigation and consider how the data is to be analyzed before collecting it. Failure to do this may result in data being collected that is incomplete or that is not adequate for satisfying the research aims. The means of analysis should also be decided before the questionnaire is delivered, not after the data is collected, this is to ensure that the questions are in a format which is suitable for analysis. A lot of skill is involved in designing a good statistically sound questionnaire, it's also better idea to use an existing questionnaire that has been standardized and validated.[d]
The basic process of a questionnaire is :
1. Define aims: It is important that this is identified clearly as it dictates the questions that are required. Clearly defined aims should result in a relevant concise questionnaire.
2. Identify the population and the size of sample required : The population is the entire group of people from whom the responses of the questionnaire needs to be collected
3. Decide how to distribute and collect the survey : The method chosen may be influenced by cost and the size of sample required. The method must be appropriate to fulfill the aims of the research, for example, a one-to-one interview may be appropriate when very detailed information is required from a small sample or population, but would be inappropriate for a large sample using a survey of twenty questions with tick boxes
4. Design the questionnaire: There are three main elements to consider:
i. Determine the questions to be asked
ii. Select the appropriate question type and wording for each question
iii. The overall layout and question sequence.
5. Carry out a pilot survey: The pilot survey is a trial run of the questionnaire designed to spot any flaws which can be corrected before going to the expense of implementing the main survey. The pilot survey should be delivered to a small sample of the intended respondents, if this is not possible, colleagues or friends are acceptable.
6. Carry out the main survey: Deliver the questionnaires as you have planned in section three. If you are sending questionnaires to specific people, you might want to consider sending reminders and another questionnaire to those not returned by a specific date.
7. Analyze the data: The data can be analyzed simply by using a package such as Excel. It is possible to calculate percentages and produce charts which illustrate your results. For larger surveys more complex statistical packages such as Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) are also available.
8. Draw conclusion: The analyzed results should be related back to the aims of the project. If it is apparent that the research has some short-comings, for example, the sample size is too small, it is acceptable to report the results as long as the potential for error is acknowledged. [g]
The information gathered from the users with this method will be in standardized format, therefore it's easy to analyze.
Unlike Face To Face interview, data can be gathered quickly from a large number of participants.
The comparison will be much more useful to compare same survey in different situation.
Administering a whole number of candidate is much more easier in this methods. With respect to the conducted person's skills and ability.
Gathered information may not be accurate, because of misinterpretation of questions.
Users may lack the motivation to complete or return the questionnaires.
The complexity of designing, producing, distributing, and analyzing the questionnaires may be expensive and time consuming.
Questionnaires, like many evaluation methods occur after the event, so participants may forget important issues.
The method of questionnaire is very useful when one needs different ideas or plans for the same question.
Needs to apply this method to get data from large number of groups at a time.
When needs to collect statistical enquiry. [g]
An interview usually involves one interviewer speaking one participant at a time. In general, there are four types of interviews one can understand about the user.
Face To Face Interview : A face to face interview is between two to three members. This methods can be featured by synchronous communication in time and place, means the method will be taken place at a fixed place and time. Due to this synchronous communication, as no other interview method Face To Face interviews has an advantage of social behavior. Social behavior is nothing but voice how he speaks, intonation; body language, the gestures etc. of the interviewee can give the interviewer a lot of extra information that can be added to the verbal answer of the interviewee on a question. When the interviewer interviews an expert about things or persons that have nothing to do with the expert as a subject, then social cues become less important. On the other hand this visibility can lead to disturbing interviewer effects, when the interviewer guides with his or her behavior the interviewee in a special direction
Telephone Interview : Telephone interview is also a best medium to know about the users, particularly who are residing remote areas. This medium is very useful when one is looking for low cost. We can also record the telephone interview of the user. Tape recording a telephone interview depends on the equipment. A speakerphone is recommended. Although the interviewer can interview people that are not easy to access, one of the disadvantages of asynchronous communication of place by telephone is the reduction of social cues. The interviewer does not see the interviewee, so body language etc. cannot be used as a source of extra information. But social cues such as voice and intonation are still available. Although social cues are reduced, enough social cues remain for terminating a telephone interview without a problem. Another disadvantage of asynchronous communication of place is that the interviewer has no view on the situation in which the interviewee is situated. Because of this the interviewer has lesser possibilities to create a good interview ambience. Face To Face interviews can make more use of a standardization of the situation. Due to this lessened possibility to create a standardization of the situation with telephone an extra disadvantage is that the interviewee can stay "visible" for other employees and managers in the organization. As I experienced for example the interviewee was called away by his manager, so the interview had to be stopped abruptly.
MSN Messenger Interview : This is another kind of interviewing technique, which now-a-day becoming popular. In this type of interview there is an absence of social cues, as it is highly available for analysis in case of Face To Face interview. A different feature that is available in this type of interview is using emotions. When interviewing with MSN messenger, because writing in a chat box and taking notes at the same time is more difficult, when one has only two hands.
E-Mail Interview: Using this technique we can send an E-Mail to the person from one wants to collect information. The main advantage of this method is the person will have time to think and respond at a leisure time, therefore there are more chances to get quality information from the person. E-mail interviewing has of course the extra advantage that the interviewer can formulate the questions, and the interviewee can answer the questions at his or her own convenience without noise disturbance due to independence of place and time. This method of communication has the advantage that an e-mail interview can be much cheaper than a Face To Face interview, because there are no travelling costs. On the other hand this technique can cost a lot of time. Due to this type of communication of time, the interviewee might have to wait sometimes for days or weeks before he/she answers the questions. This does not only lead to the risk that the interviewee will lose interest in the research, but also to the risk that the interviewee may forget to reply to questions. Although the advantage can be that the interviewee does not hesitate in giving a socially undesirable answer but the chance of a spontaneous answer to a question is smaller, because the interviewee has more time to reflect on the question. And spontaneity can be the basis for the richness of data collected in some interviews. To conclude E-mail interviews are a medium for low cost to gather info. [c]
Participant's unique point of view can be explored in details
Any misunderstanding between interviewer and participant are quickly identified and addressed.
Termination of a Face To Face interview is easy, compared to other interview methods. In the interaction between interviewer and interviewee enough clues can be given that the end of the interview is near, for example by shuffling the papers
The advantages of telephone interviewing is the extended access to participants unlike face to face.
It enables researchers to contact populations that might be difficult to work with on an Face To Face basis for example mothers at home with small children, shift workers, computer addicts and people with disabilities.
The productivity of the interview highly dependent on the experience and skill of the interviewer and analyst.
Time consuming process
This method can be applied where there is much time, no hurry.
This method can be applied when one need to judge the user's behavior apart from gathering information from him.
This method should be applied in a situation where the information to be know from a particular person in detail.
Evaluation of Personas as tools for communicating the results of user research.
How the Persona is and how they are typically used
A persona is a description of a person who is not real, representing a user of the process. Personas will be like a blueprint which will guide us throughout the process till the end. Persona creation is not an exact science and it can be difficult to verify how well a persona actually reflects the users. The fact that personas are created through an act of fiction has led some people to question their value entirely. Such criticism is valuable if it serves as a reminder that the personas are built from data that is, by its nature, incomplete and imperfect. But personas are nevertheless quite useful. Personas are created based on studying the user group using.[e]
Strengths of personas
Enable HCD designers to make inferences about the needs and desires of user segments.
Serve to communicate user characteristics in a compact and easily understood way.
Help to keep stakeholders from changing the definition of audience segments to advance narrow interests.
Put a face on the person for whom one is are designing the UI.
To predict accurately how a close friend or family member will react to a particular event and decide how to act based on those inferences.
The ability to reliably predict the behavior of others is essential to survival.
Weaknesses of personas
If not enough personas are used, users are forced to fall into a certain persona type which might now accurately represent them
The matter is unrealistic, it just an assumption.
Often portrays people in bad light. i.e., humiliation, rudeness.
Between the two methods discussed above for gathering or understanding the user, the method interviews is considered to be very useful. In this type of method one is able to know whom one is talking with. This method is much useful when one needs to know the information in details regarding the interviewee. The gestures, the behavior of the interviewee is well understood in this type of method of understanding of the user. Though this is a time consuming process the productivity from this type of method is more comparing to other methods. This method also has an issue of asynchronous in time and place. If one wanted to collect information from the user who is in remote location it incurs cost consuming also to get face to face interview. In this type of situations pho to phone interview is considered to be the best option.
If we compare this method with the questionnaire method, in case of questionnaire the user is allowed and has option to answer or respond to some set of questions that has already been prepared. The scope is very limited in case of questionnaires method.
We can compare this method with focus group, which is another method of understanding user. In focus groups a group of people are invited to explain their view and thoughts. In this type of method also the quality of response that we get from this method is comparatively less with the face to face or phone to phone interview, the inner details and inner view of the interviewee is missing. Some people may hesitate to say inform of a group of people .[e]