Teaching At Hyper Island – Week 2

Week 2 was full of interesting discussion on the Digital Experience Design module i’m teaching on at Hyper Island. If you didn’t read the previous post you can catch up here. As with last week I’ve pulled out a few of the points that generated the most discussion.

This week we focussed on getting setup for interviews and other research activities. At IDEO, one-to-one ethnographic interviews are at the heart of our research process and to get the most out of the interviews we often design exercises to help prompt discussion; one exercise that caught everyone’s attention was the Relationship Map.

Relationship Map

Relationship Map

Originally developed by a team in our San Francisco office, the Relationship Map is a simple tool that encourages people to think about their connections with a set of brands, or products, or services. Essentially any set of comparable ‘things’. In the example below the team asked the participants to think about their relationships with high street retailers.

Map in use

As the participants express their relationships with brand as if they were relationships with people (“true love” or “flirtatious”) it encourages a level of self-reflection that most people don’t often do.

The map is important as answering the question “describe your relationship with Etsy” is difficult to answer. People don’t think in terms of relationships, but when you help them to think that way you can unlock new insights.

Exercises like the relationship map can take many different forms, but they should help you investigate an area by giving the people you’re interviewing something to interact with. We often use card sorts, or share sacrificial concepts. These are great ways to get people thinking differently.

I’ve attached a pdf of the Relationship Map below if you’d like to give it a try. It’s a fun way to get people thinking about the way they engage with various services.

Download the Relationship Map

Tips for the end of an interview

At the end of a one-to-one interview there are a few simple things to make sure you do – say thank you, tell the participant what happens next in terms of your project, remember to get a photo. The most important thing, though, is to keep listening.

There’s a strange phenomena that we often talk about at IDEO—and was confirmed by Jenny Holland from Esro*—where participants will share some of the most revealing information just after you’ve finished the interview.

When you wrap up, make sure you keep your eyes and ears open. At this point participants will often relax and speak more candidly. Or i’ve often heard people say

“I thought you were going to ask about my…”

and suddenly reveal some amazing fact about themselves.

Within reason, it’s fine to capture these notes; even if it means remembering it and then scribbling it in a notebook later.

Some of the most revealing facts have come out while leaving someone’s house; it’s in these moments people talk more freely. Don’t miss these opportunities!

How to use post-it notes

You might wonder if you really need advice on how to use a post-it note. While these aren’t ground breaking rules, they are good practice and will make your life easier when you come to synthesise your notes later.

I’m not a stickler, but…

The first rule of post-it notes is to write clear and concisely. Remember that you and your colleagues will need to be able to decipher the content in an hour/day/week’s time. By then you’ll probably have forgotten the context of the original idea. It’s very easy, in a moment of feverish clarity, to write something so brief that it’s essentially meaningless just 5 minutes later.

Secondly, label each the post-it with the name of the interviewee that the observation came from. Or, if your note came from a piece of secondary research label it accordingly. When you come to synthesise your notes it will be easier to track back points to their original source.

The third golden rule is another organisational one; try to keep the same type of notes on the same colour of post-it. For example: quotes on blue, facts on green and ideas on orange. It is much easier to glance at a wall covered in notes and get an idea of the mix of observations.

How to use a post-it note

Finally, and possibly most importantly, use a fat pen. Something thick enough that you can read from a few metres away. Writing in very thin pen might be easier but it means you’ll spend your whole time walking back and forth from the wall to read everything. 

Clients love to use thin pens. Most people only ever use thin pens. Don’t let them**.

A fat pen will limit how much you can write on one note. The simple limitation of a big pen and a small piece of paper forces you to be concise and efficient.

Who knew post-it notes could be so complex?

Next week

The groups will be back from their research with hundreds of (well written) post-it notes and we’ll be synthesising all day.

If you’re interested in the Digital Experience Design course you can read more here in the Hyper Island Site.

I’d also recommend course leader Lauren Currie‘s blog Red Jotter, check it out.

* Many thanks to Jenny Holland from Esro for doing the day and giving the team masses of great advice for interviewing participants.

** Seriously.