How do I conduct a Field Study?

What is a field study? #

Field study is a research method where you go out into the real world to observe and analyze activities that take place in the user’s context.  You will either just be a “fly on the wall”,  behind the scenes observing, or a more active role where you interview or invite users to participate.

The observations provide you with accurate information about your users, their tasks, habits, their needs, and pain points, by looking, listening, and thinking. You will be able to record your user’s mood, body language, pace, interaction style, habits, and timing which will give you a full picture of the user’s point of view.

Which are the five field study methods? #

Field Research Study Methods-UX

What are the pros vs cons of field study research? #

Pro:  

  • You will gain firsthand experience and knowledge of the user’s actual environment and behaviors. 
  • You will grasp the role of social context in shaping people’s lives and experiences.
  • You will uncover elements in more detail and discover the unknown. 
  • Observing a user is more valuable than asking about their behavior as you can’t expect a person to answer a question to which they do not know the answer or to provide us with information of which they are not aware themselves. 
  • Regular observation sessions provide useful feedback to your team which can be used for constant product improvement.
  • They help you to create and adjust personas.

Con:  

  • You will collect breath rather than dept data. 
  • You will collect fewer respondents than from a survey. 
  • As you are observing the actual environment there are a lot of unexpected happenings/variables outside your control that can affect the results and the outcome. 
  • You must spend a lot of money and time planning the framework.

What are the steps to conduct a field study? #

Field Research Study Steps-UX Research
  1. Define the subject and the purpose of your study. What are you and your team trying to discover by conducting a field study?
  2. Define your hypothesis.
  3. Choose the right research method, a mix of surveys, interviews, case studies, and observation.
  4. Identify a research site and visit it.
  5. Write the research plan.
  6. Start collecting data by observing the user’s interaction with the context.  
  7. Analyze the data.
  8. Present and share the findings with your team.