Long-term UX and longitudinal research approach problems causing frustration for expert users. This article investigates how practitioners in companies utilize results from long-term UX evaluations and approaches the usefulness from practitioners’ perspective.
According to previous research it is encouraged to combine quantitative and qualitative methods in long-term studies. Although retrospective studies can be biased, they can give relevant information for product development as memories guide customers’ future behavior and communication concerning the product. Quantitative longitudinal studies should have at least three measurements to minimize the effect of measurement error. Most observable differences occur within three to six months from the beginning of use.
The researchers aimed to discover whether information rated as interesting, novel or relevant to the practitioner’s own work would be potentially more useful. The researchers conducted three case studies evaluating long-term UX with one Scandinavian company. This article focuses on the practitioners in the company evaluating the usefulness of the results.
The practitioners found quite different things useful, so the researchers noted that long-term UX evaluation should be versatile and involve different stakeholders early on in the planning phase. In software development, update releases could be beneficial measuring points for evaluation. The researchers discovered that in long-term studies the results can take too long for the rapid development cycle. Preliminary reports may have a greater influence to the product design. Lengthy research reports might be too time-consuming for the practitioners so live presentations may be the only channel to access the research results.
Majority of practitioners found the long-term UX evaluation results interesting and relevant for their work, although several topics were already familiar from other sources such as customer care. Long-term studies help practitioners verify their previous knowledge of the subject and understand the change in UX over time. Furthermore, the results help practitioners focus their future work better and update current software products.
Varsaluoma presented this study at NordiCHI 2014. Both the presentation and the article stated clearly the importance of long-term UX. However, for practitioners working in companies, there are considerable challenges in both conducting this kind of research as well as utilizing the results. My own personal thought was that as product development is moving increasingly towards agile, fast-paced methods, the importance of long-term UX might be even more easily overlooked than before. The researchers had good common-sense approach on the shortcomings of the practitioners and practical suggestions on how the results of long-term studies could be utilized better in a fast-paced business environment.