Today was my first day of Menlo’s High Tech Anthropology 101 course. I have to say it was well worth the time. It covered some ideas and techniques that I was familiar with and others I was not. In both cases I learned something new. We looked a variety of methods for conducting user interviews, job shadowing, creating use cases and scenarios, and modeling information for later use.
It was great to hear both the new perspective provided by the instructor and the different experiences of the other participants in the workshop. Additionally, there was a great deal of practical advice based on Menlo’s extensive work experience that provided insights into how to best communicate with users, developers, and customers.
One technique that I hadn’t previously used was developing a glossary during the course of interviews and other information gathering and analysis to ensure that everyone understands the terms being used. This means the glossary should be included in most reports and other work products and you should go over it with the people you are communicating with.
The other method that I really liked was the creation of a matrix of Use Cases and Actors (various types of people involved in the use cases) indicating the general frequency with which each type of Actor will perform each Use Case. This helps to prioritize development and justify decisions on what to focus on to others in a clear and understandable way. It can be a great tool for explaining the business case for a decision.
I’m looking forward to the next two days there and I’ll be sure to post more of what we cover each day.