To protect confidential information, I removed and edited information in this case study.
Lexmark International is a global manufacturer for printers. I was a UX intern at Lexmark focusing on starting UX research efforts on the Chinese market. As the pioneer for the China UX research project, I explored practical ways to study printer users in China. In the end, I successfully ran two survey studies and collected 1,700 survey responses from printer users in China. My research paper Conducting Cost-effective User Research in China Remotely was accepted to the HCI International Conference 2018. I presented my paper at HCII 2018, Las Vegas, NV in July, 2018.
Translate an ambiguous task into a 4-step plan
Following the acquisition by a Chinese Consortium in 2016, Lexmark shifted its focus to the Chinese market. The UX team had never done any research on the Chinese printer market. The need to understand our users in China became the top priority.
I led the very first effort on the China research project and my task was to "Learn about printer users in China". "Learn about printer users in China" is such a vague requirement. I needed to make research plans that were actional and could be executed within a few months.
1. What do stakeholders care about?
Before I wrote my research questions, I needed to know what stakeholders cared about. I booked 1 on 1 meetings with stakeholders from the UX team, the marketing team and the Info Dev team and learned about their needs.
2. Select feasible research methods
Practical Research Methods
I conducted literature review on best practice for conducting international research. Suggestions such as conducting field studies, or using local vendors were great, but none of the articles got into details on how to carry out studies. How much do vendors cost? How do we find printer users in China?
How should a small UX team with a limited budget conduct international research?
Let's be real. Our team was small. Our budget was tight. We did't have any connections with local vendors. When I was evaluating research plans, I needed to consider: 1) Is it affordable? 2) Is it logistically feasible? 3) How long will it take to run the study?
Method 1: 2 Surveys
Surveys are an economical way to quantative data. We decided to conduct two rounds of surveys: the first round to gain insights on user segments and the second round to follow up on patterns shown in the first round.
Method 2: 1 Diary Study
Field studies are great, but they exceed our budget. As an affordable alternative to field studies, I proposed a diary study to learn about usage scenarios, attitudes and needs of our users.
Localize Research Toolkit
Our research team has go-to research tools, but these tools our team use for conducting research in the US are not the best choices for China research.
Our research team has go-to research tools, but these tools our team use for conducting research in the US are not the best choices for China research. Research tools widely used in the US such as Survey Monkey, Google Drive were banned in China.
Are we able to use the tools?
Our Research Needs
After compared popular survey platforms in China, I selected Survey Star (Wen Juan Xing) for our survey studies, because this service allows self-defined screening criteria (in our case, printer users) and accepts international bank transaction.
We should select tools that Chinese users are already familiar with. If we need users to adopt a new and tool, the tool should be easy to set up easy to learn.
3. Plan Studies
Before I drafted questions, I examine user generated content from Chinese printer forums, Q&A sites, and articles to understand what topics Chinese printer users were discussing.
Testing and Iterations
Translation is not just language translation. After I translated survey questions into Chinese, I tested out questions with Chinese users to make sure our questions were clear. For example: I did a guerrila test on 6 Chinese individuals and asked them "What is a printer, and what is a copier?" and received 6 different answers. Therefore, we placed a clear definition of printers in the beginning of our survey.
4. Carry out studies and share insights
International payment was the biggest roadblock
Mobile pay has become extremely popular in China. Some internet services only accept mobile pay. Like most corporates, our team only had a corporate credit card.
Data Collection and Analysis
For our first survey, we succesfully collected 1700 responses from the two rounds of surveys. I analyzed the data and presented my findings to stakeholders.
As the pioneer for conducting remote user research on Chinese users, I removed the roadblocks for future research projects. I have shared my research findings with the UX, marketing and information development teams and sparked further questions and discussions. I shared my experience on how to conduct UX research for the Chinese market at the HCI International Conference and provided practical advices to teams in similar situations.