Engaging Hard-to-Reach Users

Ariba Jahan
21 Sep 2019
2:30 pm
The Loft

Engaging Hard-to-Reach Users

Executing user research seldom goes according to plan, and simply “getting out of the building” rarely connects us to a willing and inclusive group of users. While advances in technology have served us— offering tremendous amounts of user data at our fingertips—they’ve also made it more challenging to engage with hard-to-reach audiences in a way that doesn’t extend our bias. Sometimes we defer to user testing tools, surveys, social media polls and targeting datasets provided by digital platforms just because of efficiency and wide reach, which can feel like we’re casting a wide net and being inclusive. But in reality, we are excluding- we are allowing our work to be informed by people who opt into being test users and can physically use the user testing interface, people who are on social media and only those that are represented by the datasets. Data aggregates can give us the false permission to make important decisions and assumptions about who we are designing for- but, just because the sample size may look reliable doesn’t mean the data captures our user’s human experience.

In this talk, I’ll share our team’s experiences and the reality of finding our audience, doing user interviews, testing and designing co-creations with hard-to-reach audiences. Specifically, I’ll share the challenges we faced in the process and the insights we gained from busy moms raising a child with Autism, and the learnings we gathered from Gen Z teens on their experiences with bullying. Neither of these groups could I approach randomly on the street to openly have a dialogue nor would they be part of a user testing platform.

You’ll be able to see how user-driven insights informed our design decisions and iterations, as we uncovered the struggles unique to each community.

You’ll leave this talk knowing how to bring hard-to-reach audiences into your design process—how to facilitate an inclusive user co-creation session that uncovers their unique challenges, empower your users to envision solutions with you and how to synthesize user insights that drive action.