Qualitative HCI and Interacting with Information
by Ann Blandford (UCLIC), Dominic Furniss (UCLIC), Stephann Makri (City University)
Qualitative methods have an essential role to play in HCI research, particularly in understanding user needs and behaviours and evaluating situated use of technology. In this lecture, we draw on the analogy of making a documentary film to discuss important issues in qualitative HCI research: historically, films were presented as finished products, giving the viewer little insight into the production process; more recently, there has been a trend to go behind the scenes to expose some of the painstaking work that went into creating the final cut. Similarly, in qualitative research, the essential work behind the scenes is rarely discussed.
We address this gap by presenting a repertoire of qualitative techniques for understanding user needs, practices and experiences with technology for the purpose of informing design. We also discuss practical considerations such as tactics for recruiting participants and ways of getting started when faced with a pile of interview transcripts. Our particular focus is on semi-structured qualitative studies, which occupy a space between ethnography and surveys—typically involving observations, interviews and similar methods for data gathering, and methods of analysis based on systematic coding of data. We present illustrative examples drawn from prior experience to bring to life the purpose, planning and practical considerations of doing qualitative studies for interaction design.
by Ann Blandford and Simon Attfield (UCL)
We live in an "information age," but information is only useful when it is interpreted by people and applied in the context of their goals and activities. In this lecture, we review the situations (physical, social and temporal) in which people interact with information. We also discuss how people interact with information in terms of an "information journey," in which people, iteratively, do the following: recognise a need for information, find information, interpret and evaluate that information in the context of their goals, and use the interpretation to support their broader activities. Widely used tools supporting information access, such as searching on the Web and in digital libraries, support clearly defined information requirements well, but they provide limited support for other information needs. Theories of information interaction and sensemaking can highlight new design possibilities that augment human capabilities. We review relevant theories and findings for understanding information behaviours, and we review methods for evaluating information working tools, to both assess existing tools and identify requirements for the future.