Posted by: clare on: June 5, 2012
I attended the CHI workshop on Theories Behind UX Research and How They are Used in Practice (my position paper concerned my use of seven theoretical frameworks in my doctoral research): it was fantastic.
Why I care about this topic
I’m an academic, not a practitioner — yet I care about how academic work is applied in the real-world. Why? Because doing awesome, well-grounded research into User Experience (UX) and only talking about it in academic circles seems a dreadful waste. I had this conversation with Garett Dworkin, who had a lovely analogy: it’s like having a car and never using it.
Topics of discussion
After getting to know one another, we started digging in depth. We got into groups to discuss how theories are used in UX design and evaluation (conclusion: implicitly, as best practices and design principles), stances on UX research / practice (there are so many perspectives on what we mean by ‘practitioners’), plus challenges — and overcoming challenges — in applying theory.
Challenges we identified included:
Some possible approaches to overcome these:
This is fundamentally a communication problem. For a start, academic English is a language of its own right, and practitioners are (quite reasonably!) uninterested in things we strongly focus on (e.g. related work, methodological limitations); we write for our peers, not for practitioners.
I hear that one conclusion of last year’s SIG is that we can’t change the fundamental cultures of researchers or practitioners, which makes sense! What we can do is figure out a way to bridge those communities. Towards that end, I’d love to see something like a CHI’13 panel for practitioners and academics with experience in this area to share those experiences. Another neat thing would be if it were possible to indicate in the CHI’13 program what papers authors feel are directly relevant to practitioners.
Luckily I’m not thinking these thoughts in isolation. One outcome of the UX Theory Workshop is the formation of the SIGCHI Research-Practice Interaction Community, led by the wonderful Elizabeth Buie. I am proud to be a founding member! Here’s our mission statement:
The Research-Practice Interaction community is a bridge between research and practice in HCI, including all flavors thereof (user experience, usability, interaction design, information architecture, etc.etc.). We aim to promote the exchange of information between researchers and practitioners, such that research and its results are more accessible to practitioners and that practitioner information needs are conveyed to researchers.
The SIGCHI RPI Community website is now online, and as Elizabeth Buie remarks in her post on this topic, ACM members can join the community as a full member, while nonmembers can get a free acm.org account and join as affiliates.
As I’ve remarked elsewhere, I’m really down with the concept of bridging academia and industry — so I’m excited about this SIG. I hope to bring you more updates in due course.