I hosted an Idea Market about User Experience Research and Practice at the UXPA 2013 conference in DC on July 11th. Another event in the series exploring the challenges and solutions to the research-practice gap in UX.
Idea Markets are informal, discussion-oriented events. I has some space to put up info to announce the topic. Some people came by and left comments at random times, but most of the activity was during a special session for idea markets: a break in the regular program. We had up to 8 people talking at once and a few people were recruited to participate as certain topics came up. Here is a grouping of the things we talked about (the topics left as sticky notes, at least).
Problem statements: The session focused on ideas for solutions, but some people could not resist (re)-stating problems.
- When I was a researcher, I felt I had more time to do in-depth user research and testing. As a practitioner, I feel that in an agile, feature-design world it is not possible.
- Hard to apply the findings from the scientific research.
- Making the findings from the scientific research digestable.
- Researchers should start doing relevant research, and present it outside acadmic journals/conferences.
Hubs-of-activity ideas: Places, events where researchers and practitioners can hang out, interact, and where the other solutions can take place.
- Monthly meet-ups.
- Plan simultaneous practitioner and researcher conferences nearby, with social parties to combine both audiences.
- Usability.gov as an online hub.
- UXPA Body of Knowledge as an online hub.
- A person as the hub: someone like Kath Straub who can compile the research and hold seminars to explain the research to many groups of practitioners.
Publishing-related ideas: focused on how to communicate research to practitioners.
- Boxes and Arrows (and other online magazines that practitioners read) summary of research.
- Business owners and designers/researchers write article together (e.g., HBR).
- Comic books, "CHI Comix".
- Articles written by practitioners and researchers together.
- Quick reviews ("bite sized") of emerging research for practitioners.
- Include practitioner articles in academic journals.
Higher education ideas: where the foundation for research-practice interaction is.
- Team teaching: 1 researcher/academic and 1 practitioner.
- Translate (industry) research topics into HCI programs (e.g., master's theses).
- Cycle new grads thru the "professional ranks" like conference volunteer, newsletter editor.
- Multi-disciplinary projects in school.
Do-it-yourself ideas: Practitioners serving themselves, instead of relying on "researchers".
- Sharing tools developed by practitioners to solve their own user research challenges.
- Self-funded R&D by practitioner companies.
- Independent research of best practices, by industry.
Influence decision maker ideas: to help get to some of the root causes of the research-practice gap.
- Find grant funders to attract researchers.
- Executive understanding of importance of UX research.
- Reach upper management.
- Influence the grant and venture capital organizations.
Overall, a lot of the same from past conversations, but also some new twists. The important thing is to keep the challenges and ideas for improving in mind for the long haul.