In this first part of a short series on participatory design methods I write about usability tests. The tests help me prove if my solutions for important details in my artefacts work or if I have to "go back to the drawing board". There are an enormous amount of persons who know more then I do about the things I design.
4 ways I meet "users"
There are many ways of engaging persons in the design process. But not all where created equal.
Interviews help me understand the life and desire of those that will use the artefacts that I help design. "How do persons decide/negotiate which channel to watch?"
In a guided exploration I let a person immerse themselves in a system. I ask them to accomplish tasks that touch on points in the artefact that we want to validate. During the hour-long session I can find a lot of pain points in the artefact I help design. I can validate full use cases.
A longitudinal study with up to 100 participants has the potential to combine the best of quantitative and qualitative metjods. A bonus: no need to constantly find new "test subjects". "Is the service valuable over time?"
Summary & Comparison
As the final part of my short series about participatory design I have created a comparison table to help you chose the best method for the current phase of your project. A table of pro's and con's.