My name is Ben and I’m a user researcher working on the apprenticeship service.
The apprenticeship service research team were recently given the opportunity to attend this year’s large employer roadshows (LERs). The roadshows are a chance for employers to meet with staff from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, learn about upcoming developments and take part in some workshops. As we are user researchers, we jumped at the opportunity to run some sessions, conducting research with a captive audience.
Our goal was to validate what we already know about our users, challenge our understanding, and learn more about what happens when our users encounter problems. We ran 3 sessions a day, over 7 roadshows, with each session lasting 25 minutes.
Preparing for the workshops
I volunteered to attend every LER, and with the support from the rest of the research team, we put a plan together to create an engaging session. The session needed to be innovative, impactful and personal, encouraging the audience to share openly.
We wanted to show our attendees the importance of segmentation, but also the importance of commonalities of behavior. We started with a light-hearted exercise, asking them to choose between a variety of options (such as white bread or brown bread, beach or city). This was followed by asking participants to get into small groups and discuss some simple topics to show how simple it can be to group users through similar behaviours.
We moved onto asking the attendees to consider scenarios relating to using their apprenticeship account. We wanted to understand the steps they took to complete those tasks, but also who is involved and what problems they might face.
What did we learn?
The research team are analysing the findings from each scenario to look for commonalities in behaviour and problems. This is being used to look at our personas (a tool we use in designing the service which detail typical user behaviour and needs) to see if our understanding is current, or if we could identify any emerging needs of our services.
My most used phrase was definitely ‘tell me how this is a problem’. We needed to challenge people to find the problems within a task. This could be where solutions aren’t meeting the user’s needs or are simply inefficient. This work will continue to feed into the development of the service, and help focus what areas of research we tackle next.
We’d like to thank everyone who took part, fed back to us and helped expand our understanding of our users.