by Alan Millar
Autodesk University is a year-round educational resource for users of Autodesk products. Each year, right after Thanksgiving weekend, Autodesk University's flagship event brings together design professionals from around the world for classes, keynotes, product demonstrations, exhibits and networking events. And as it turns out, quite a few AU attendees also spend some of their valuable time improving the ease-of-use of Autodesk software.
When you bring 8074 users of Autodesk software and services together in one place, it stands to reason Autodesk researchers and user experience designers will also be there, analyzing as many users as possible. This year, 375 AU attendees participated in various user research activities that are critical to optimizing the user experience in Autodesk products.
Like Autodesk University, Autodesk research activities are year-round. At #AU2011, we conducted 140 individual activities such as interviews and usability studies, and 27 group activities ranging from focus groups to participatory design sessions.
In a participatory design session the SWSS team conducted, we prepared worksheets, cards and mock-ups useful for gathering individual input, understanding how users organize tasks and group information, and how users react to existing comparative and internal solutions.
For some additional participatory research examples, read about ACAD Design Jams in Eunice Chang's recent post.
I've found that whatever the study type, participants in these activities seem to walk away feeling as though they've really contributed something to the future of Autodesk products, and frankly, we feel the same way. Consider this post a thank you to all 375 of you who participated in our research sessions at AU, and to the hundreds more who participate year-round in our user research activities. We can't do it without you.
Quotes from a few participants:
"I'd like to learn Revit in two weeks...like a curriculum where you could log-in or have it pop up and guide us along."
“You are showing novice and expert, but there is a lot of gray area in-between. The system should understand based on user activity what is most important to offer right away.”
"I want the cloud to tell me where I can find solutions to problems I have. I want to know what my options are beyond what my personal experience tells me. I want to step out and tap into everyone else's experience and draw that back into my project.
Ideally the cloud will make us more informed about the decisions we make so that we make better buildings and improve the products we deliver. It would not just act like a storage device, not just speed up some of our processes, but actually make us better at design."
And one from one of our researchers:
"This year at AU, our team had the opportunity to speak with over a hundred users. Their interest in Cloud and involvement in redefining their work was extremely interesting. I feel that we'll see big shifts occurring in BIM, Cloud, and distributed work. We are always interested in hearing from our users and encourage people to sign up to participate in our studies at www.autodesk.com/usability"
Thank you to all our users from the user experience design and research teams at Autodesk.