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Affinity Wall Assignment Handout

Affinity Wall Assignment Handout

For this assignment, you will complete an affinity wall and submit a short report about it. The affinity wall will include the affinity notes you submitted in assignment 3, plus additional notes, for a total of at least 50 notes (to allow you to cluster the notes effectively). The short report can be thought of as excerpts from a larger, complete report that you might write, if you were doing the user needs assessment in a professional context.

Affinity Wall You will want to build your affinity wall in some form so that when it is completed, you can take a photograph of it and submit it for peer grading. Most often, affinity walls are actually constructed on a physical wall, with sticky notes moved around on the wall during construction. However, you may find that some other format works better, such as laying out the notes on a large table. Whatever the case, be sure to keep it sufficiently compact and organized so that the individual notes are clearly visible and in focus when you shoot the photo.

You will be posting the photos and the description in the exercise. Your peers will then have the opportunity to to comment on it

Tips for the affinity wall:

Especially at the beginning, don’t be afraid to form clusters and quickly move things around. You can always move the notes around later and do a better analysis as you go on. If you have N affinity notes, you should be able to put them all in tentative clusters within N minutes or so. If you find yourself taking much longer, see if you can speed up. Try to keep affinity note clusters to between 3-7 notes in size. It’s OK if you have occasional clusters that are two or fewer or more than seven, but that should not happen on a regular basis. If you have smaller clusters, see if they can be merged with other clusters; if you have clusters with more than seven notes, see if there is a way to split them further. The key to a good affinity wall, and to good qualitative data analysis, is to write good summary notes for each cluster. Use a different color sticky note if you can for the first layer of summaries (and then, another color for the next layer, etc.). A good summary note will…. Capture the essence of the affinity notes within it, while making a good tradeoff between abstraction and precision. On the one hand, you want to come up with a generalization about the notes in the cluster; on the other hand, you want to avoid vagueness. The summary note should say something interesting while providing a summary. A common mistake is to use phrases like “depends on,” “influences,” “changes,” etc., that are abstract and vague, and which in and of themselves don’t indicate the nature of the depending, the influencing, or the changing. “Users are influenced by the location of the buttons,” doesn’t really say that much. “Users tend to click on the button closest to the center,” is precise and says something much more meaningful. (Of course, the summary should still be valid for all of the notes in the cluster – hence the tradeoff.) Be concise. Provide insight that might not necessarily be immediately apparent in the individual affinity notes. Once you have one layer of summary notes, you can form clusters of the summary notes. Use a different color sticky note for this layer, if possible. Keep forming new layers of summaries until the main issues have materialized and it doesn’t seem meaningful to keep merging. An outcome of a good affinity wall is that key issues regarding the problem being analyzed will emerge as some of the top-level summary notes. When your affinity wall is completed, take a photo of it for submission. Be sure that all of the wall fits within the photo and that the photo is in focus so that if you zoom in, the notes can be read.

Abridged Report In a professional context, you would most likely write a report of your entire user needs assessment, with conclusions and recommendations for design. For this assignment, you will choose two of the key issues that emerged in your affinity wall and write about them.

The report you write should do the following:

Be 400-800 words in length. Be well-written in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Be formatted so that the two issues are clearly demarcated. It should be very easy to tell what the two key issues you have chosen to write about are. Include supporting evidence based on your interview sessions. Incorporate the individual data from the affinity notes in the relevant cluster in your affinity wall. You may need to go back to your notes or the interview recordings if the affinity notes have been abbreviated in some way. Organize the writing so that it is easy to understand what evidence goes with what issue. If your affinity wall is well-organized, you can reflect its structure: topic sentence as summary note; supporting data from several affinity notes in the cluster; and so on. Some optional things you can do, which will help readability and contribute to the word count:

Add section headers for each of the two issues. Provide a brief introduction about the problem and what the two issues are. No more than three or four sentences. At the end of each key issue, you can also provide recommendations for design. In a professional context, these might be recommendations that you as the UX designer are expected to come up with, or there might be team brainstorming sessions in which designers and engineers meet with the UX researchers to consider different options. Write a brief conclusion. Two or three sentences.

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