Weeknotes – series 04 episode 03

Notes about API user research, recording remote user research sessions, and onboarding remote team members during lockdown.

API user research

This week I've been getting ready for a round of API user research. I've done bits of this before, but it's always challenging as my knowledge of APIs is often less than that of the participants I'm speaking too.

Last time I put together a list of resources, so I decided to share these API user research resources on GitHub. I'd also blogged about some user research questions for data users. These were a really good start for planning my research this time round.

It's also tricky for me because there is no visual interface to design, so it feels like extra pressure on me to make sure the research findings can speak for themselves. Jason Bell from DWP has written a good blog post about this: How we designed for users without having a user interface to test.

In preparation, I've been speaking to the team at Swirrl and the API service owners to help me setup some good research objectives and activities.

Rob suggested that I should give participants a heads up that I'd like to see them use an API, some API documentation and/or whatever software they usually use to work with the data once they have it. Already this has worked really well, as participants have taken the time to email me in advance with links to relevant websites and taken the time to write notes about their workflow.

Recording remote user research sessions

Earlier in the summer I bought myself an app to record my mac screen called Record It. It's a nice lightweight app and it allows me to record my screen, my microphone and the participant's audio at the same time. There seems to be lots of ways to get around this problem, including Open Broadcaster Software, but Record It "just worked" for me, so I'm happy.

At the time, I asked people on Twitter for tips for Mac apps that lets you record the screen, the system audio and the mic audio at the same time – take a look at that thread if you want to see some other options.

Onboarding remote team members during lockdown

On a different note… at Swirrl we're thinking about how we can improve our onboarding system now that we're fully remote (during the corona virus lockdowns). So I've been gathering links to resources to help with that.

The general consensus seems to be that a well thought out Trello board or slidedeck is the way to go. So I've added some great examples of those to this GitHub gist: list of articles and resources about remote onboarding.