Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

War Stories - part 7

If you do enough research with real human beings you will start to build up a collection of ‘war stories’ about things that went wrong that you can learn from. This could be anything from you forgot the spare batteries to recruiting the wrong people to speak to and anything in between.

I recently had to do a research study about a new online service we are offering. If you have ever sent anything abroad via the Post Office you have probably been given a small sticker to put on your parcel on which you need to declare what is in it, and how much it weighed and cost.

This is your customs form. Following on from Brexit you can no longer send parcels outside the UK without one, even to the EU.

But you can now fill in the form online and print it at home, saving you time in the Post Office. We wanted to know how people got on with the process and if it would be something they would use.

I created a test which included a quick interview first to understand how my participants currently use the service.

The first participant claimed she had sent lots of stuff aboard, outside the EU, but had never used a customs form.

How could this be?

I worried that her Post Office might be giving her the wrong information. But as we continued to talk I found out that she did use them, she just did not know what they were called.

As far as she was concerned it was just a sticker she put on her parcel at the Post Office. A customs form on the other hand sounded official and a bit scary.

I quickly changed my discussion guide following that first participant to find out what the other participants knew before asking about customs forms and as I spoke to them I found that this was a recurring theme.

So I learnt that you must not make assumptions about people's knowledge - just because I call it one thing, doesn’t mean everyone does and this became a really important part of my report back to the team. After all if people don’t know what it’s called it’s quite hard to find it in the website navigation.

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