Learning from User Research War Stories

Stories make the world go round. As people who do user research, we love stories. At its simplest, our job is to gather stories and to retell them. War Stories are stories about contextual user research (research out in the field) and the inevitable mishaps that ensue. These stories are in turn bizarre, comic, tragic and generally astonishing.

For a practice that is not always well-understood or trusted, there’s pressure for us to only speak to the successes, but examining the human messiness of this work can help develop our skills and our community. I believe we need to share what can go wrong, because that’s the reality. 

Building on years of gathering war stories and my book “Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries”, participants in this workshop will delve into existing stories to mine them for best practices and insights and reflect on their own approach to research. As well, participants will be invited to share their own stories and how they may have learned from them, either at the time or in retrospect.