Hi, and welcome to Understanding User Needs. My name is Kentaro Toyama, and I'll be the instructor for this course. This particular lecture is called, Introduction to User Needs Assessment. And it will give you an overview of what exactly user needs are and how we are thinking about needs assessment. Now before I tell you a little bit more about myself, I want to mention that I'm from Japan where despite a tendency towards refined aesthetic sensibility. We are also very happy to have things like this happen. Where in front of a beautiful autumn scene, there might be a bunch of vending machines. Now I mention vending machines because they are an interesting kind of product to think about with respect to user needs. So first of all, I should mention that in Japan, there are all kinds of vending machines. If you've never been there, you'll find that they have vending machines that they don't have in other countries, such as for beer, eggs, or even underwear. Now what's interesting about vending machines is not so much the kinds of things you can buy in them, but what happens when users actually use them. So most of us who have any experience with vending machines have certainly memories of bad vending machine experiences. You might remember a time when the UX itself breaks down and provides you with an error message that doesn't let you proceed with whatever you're trying to purchase. You might remember times when actual items in the vending machine got stuck. And of course, there's always a tendency to want, in these cases, to rage against the machine and possibly tip it over. But in this course, we're going to talk about somewhat more subtle problems that people have with vending machines. So for example, when you're thinking about buying any kind of soda, what are the different kinds of questions that people might have? Do users ever want anything else with their soda? For example, might they want a cup? Maybe they want another snack? Maybe they even want a napkin with their soda. What about different methods of payment? So most machines these days take coins and some take credit cards. But possibly, they should start excepting mobile payments. Or maybe even by using some kind of biometric authentication, you could have a line of credit where you could buy different kinds of products through the vending machine. And finally, what do users really want when a machine fails? Maybe you want to immediately speak to a customer service representative. Possibly you'd like to have a receipt of the item that you thought you bought but didn't receive. Or maybe you'd like to have a little video capture of the entire event so that when you make your case, and try to ask for a refund, there's evidence of what exactly transpired. All of these are questions that are concerned with user needs, and the kinds of questions that we'd like to get to the bottom of when we do a user needs assessment. Why do a user needs assessment? One question is to understand why people would want to actually use a product or service in the first place. Oftentimes, we assume that we know why people buy products, but in reality, we may not know their full line of motivations. A user needs assessment helps us get to the bottom of that. Another question is, how people actually use or don't use a product or service. Sometimes after you've designed a service of particular way, people find that they want to use it in a different purpose, in a different manner. All of these are again, questions of needs assessments. You might also want to understand what people like or dislike about a product or service. That's certainly important to understand in order to improve the product or to find more customers. And finally, we can ask questions like what else people might want to expect from a product or service. All of these kinds of questions and similar ones are all questions that we would answer through a user needs assessment. Most of the time, it's useful to think of user needs assessments as happening right before you design or redesign a product. Of course, anytime you're interested in designing a new product, it's very useful to understand your potential customers. What they prefer, how they think about potential products in that area, and so on. But user needs assessments can also be used during a redesign of an existing product. Anytime you have questions such as, why would users want to use the service, and what do they think about each time they use it? Why don't customers go beyond the homepage of a particular website? What frustrates users of a given product? How could we improve the client's experience? Again, these are the kinds of questions that, if you have, you'd want to perform a user needs assessment. Another thing to understand is that, in the phrase, user needs assessment, the word needs suggest something really urgent, a strong desire. But historically, a needs assessment has been performed any time people have wanted to understand the clients or the customers of a given product or service. In the 1960s, an educational technology researcher by the name of Roger Kaufman, popularized needs assessment. And he applied them not only to educational contexts and to educational technology contexts. But also to understanding what people in a particular community might need in a public service project, and in larger contexts as well. And user experience needs usually means the user needs, wants, preferences, or even their quirks. It's often of course, focused on a product or service. But one thing to think about is sometimes, you can understand more about a user when you take a little bit of a step back and ask, what are their larger goals? What were they trying to achieve in using a given product? Of course, there are pros and cons about taking the broader view. And we'll go into more of that later in this course. As far as how we proceed with user needs assessments, this particular course focuses on a certain kind of qualitative research. We'll talk about how to conduct interviews with users or potential users. Observations of users actually using a given product. And also a certain way of analyzing the content of interviews by using something we call affinity diagrams. Qualitative research is extremely good at uncovering ideas and concepts in depth, often across a broad range of different used cases. And it's also useful for generating hypotheses about what users really want, and what they actually think about. Sometimes qualitative research is also used as a way to understand causal explanations from, let's say surveys. Where we might understand something about a given user population, but we don't know why they think that way. Qualitative research can be useful at understanding those kinds of issues. In this course we will however, not cover certain kinds of techniques that are used by other people in user needs assessments. Within qualitative research tradition, there are people who use work models, who construct personas of different categories of users. And who might conduct market research with focus groups and so forth. We'll also not use a variety of quantitative research methodologies that are sometimes used in user needs assessments as well. Whether they're surveys and questionnaires, and analyzing logs of user usage statistics. Or document analysis where you might actually look at specific documents associated with a given product. Finally, a little bit more about myself. I'm a computer scientist by training. I used to work at Microsoft Research, doing research in artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. I also helped found Microsoft Research in India where I worked on technology for social economic development of the worlds poor communities. Today I'm a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information where I teach SI501, Contextual Inquiry. This is a course that focuses on user center design and actually teaches many of the techniques that you'll be learning in this course. Finally, I'm the author of a book called Geek Heresy, Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. This is a book that talks a little bit about my experience with user needs assessments in a variety of contexts particularly with respect to technology. Anyway, I hope that you've gotten a better sense for what user needs assessments are. And I'll see you in the next lecture. Thank you.