Try It Yourself is a technique where the designer or researcher acts on behalf of the user. What usually ends up happening in typical design projects is that the user is interviewed or surveyed and observed to ensure that the needs, behavior and expectations, that surface from these methods, match. Then, depending on the budget of the project, the design specifications are tested and validated using other research methods. All these methods give the researcher a sense of the user, understanding of their needs and behavior; however, Try It Yourself, allows the researcher to pose as the user and experience the design first-hand.
Trying it as a user, also helps the researcher validate that whatever the user had stated as their needs, challenges and experiences, are indeed so.
Another format that Try It Yourself methodology can take is where the researcher doesn’t survey, interview or understand the user attitude through prior interaction. In this format, the researcher places themselves in the user shoes as well as context and experiences the same things perform the same actions and roles as the user. This allows the researcher to develop a greater sense of empathy for the user and determine the needs and behavior that may not be explicitly stated by the user when asked. The designer would, therefore, figure out the challenges and problems that need to be addressed through design without interacting with the user. This can be the first step in the design process and form the basis on which the surveys, interviews, role-plays, and other methods can be used.
Advantages of Try It Yourself
As the researcher or designer puts themselves in the user’s shoes and performs the actions on the user behalf, this method leads to a greater level of empathy for the user.
02 User Experience
The researcher experiences the product, service, devised solution or design first-hand and doesn’t need to make any unnecessary assumptions. Similarly, the user’s attitude and behavior can be validated not only in terms of which behavior patterns exist but also in terms of why the user behaves in those ways
03 Quick problem definition and solution
An experienced researcher would be quick to determine problems and formulate a problem statement for design. This would streamline all future design efforts for the entire team and move things faster for problem statement to required solution.
Disadvantages of Try It Yourself
01 Experienced researcher
Try It Yourself requires an experienced and mature researcher to carry out the research. They could also mean an increased cost for the project.
02 Introduction of bias
As the researcher acts on behalf of the user, the experiences are noted based on the researcher’s perception. This could introduce bias in the initial phases of the project. An inexperienced designer may also not be open to new feedback or altering their perceptions after additional research turns out to be contrary to the researchers’ assumptions.
Think Design recommendation
Try It Yourself is a quick and dirty way for designers to use what they have made or proposed, and this is done to immerse them in using the product than assessing it from a distance. Use this for a quick understanding of what someone may be thinking while using your product or concept, however, do not consider this as a substitute for primary research.