Schedule Time & Gather Materials
- Time Per Observation / Role-Play Session: 1-2 Hours
- Notebooks & pencils
- Means of transportation
- Cardboard, markers, glue, tape, etc. to make props
Carry Out This Method
- Gather a group of 3-6 product team members who are comfortable with role playing and thinking on their toes.
- Visit the location of use for observation. For example, visit a bank and watch users use the ATM, or visit a mall and watch users on their mobile devices.
- Note any unexpected use cases, obstacles, or tasks. Look for things like parents trying to use an ATM with one hand and hold a baby with the other, or mobile device users struggling to see their screens in sunlight.
- Have your team role-play as users, in context if possible. Alternatively, use cardboard to build rudimentary props at your office to recreate the context of use.
- Continue role-playing as different personas in various scenarios to uncover previously unexplored issues or opportunities.
- After about an hour, discuss and record your observations. You may wish to use a method like Affinity Diagramming to organize them.
Try These Tips
- Complete the observation and role-play phases during the same visit for indoor locations. When designing for outdoor locations, split these phases between two days with similar weather to role-play in the same light conditions as you observed.
- If you need to construct a prop to represent an interface, designate a team member to role-play as the interface. Have them speak prompts aloud and describe the interface’s behavior in response to user actions.