This essay aims to deepen my knowledge of User Experience Research (UXR) and User Experience Design (UXD) and will explain how I will apply the relevant research and design methods to my major project. Giving a brief explanation of the work covered in the UX sessions with Steph Troeth and Chris How, this essay will then demonstrate how I will use this knowledge on my Major Project along with other projects in the future.

Major Project

The idea for my major project came from my love of country music but also my frustration at not being able to find the information I needed about country music gigs and events all in one place. Rather than have to jump from website to website using filters and locations to find what I’m after, I want to create a website that lists everything together. Starting with London as the geographical area I aim to compile gigs, concerts, events and other country music related topics on one site. It would have the potential to expand to other cities and even other countries if it was to be successful.

Traditionally Country music is an American music genre and mainly referred to in the UK as “Country and Western” with only the likes of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and of course Dolly Parton being known. However within the last ten years or so it has expanded far past that and the UK now not only holds the largest country music event outside the United States each year but hosts multiple concerts throughout the year from various Country music artitsts big and small, from the UK and the US alike.

After the initial discussion of my idea I have expanded my ideas on what other information could be on the website such as new music releases, pop/country crossover artists for people wanting to start listening to country music, album reviews and potentially merchandise or places to purchase items that could be worn to concerts like cowboy boots and hats.

UX Research

From the session on User Experience Research with Steph Troeth, we explored the meaning of User Research and how its aim is to understand people’s relationship to products and services. In basic terms – what are their needs? What do we know about their behaviours and motivations and what causes them to make certain decisions? Are they more or less confident when using a particular interface? As Steph explained in the session, the context for the research is important because it gives a clear goal for what needs to be achieved. Questions such as “why is the research needed”, “what will it be used for”, “who do the outcomes affect” or “what impact do we want to achieve” are all helpful when starting the research process.

There are various methodologies to consider using at this stage. Existing evidence such as reports and analytics, otherwise known as quantitative data (things that can be measured or counted like surveys and data) can be useful to start with before moving onto qualitative data (things that are more subjective and that need interpreting like interviews or focus groups). Only when you combine these with behavioural (how people behave) and attitudinal (what people think) methods will you get a full picture. Deciding whether to do moderated or unmoderated and in-person or remote testing also impacts the process as well as being mindful of making assumptions and instead trying to create a hypothesis that can be given a resolution.

One of the other research methods Steph used was the research canvas which is a great place to start to gather initial thoughts on the process.

UX Design

There are three main components of design. The first being creation of Information Architecture which is essentially the organisation of content so that everything functions well and is easy to find. The second is the creation of content and the third is the visual design. The overall aim of UX design is to create the best user experience of the interface, both the usability and the appearance.

UX design includes a variety of things such as researching user needs and creating user profiles, creation of wireframes as well as prototypes and the design specifications. This image from explains the design process.

There are many different ways to come up with ideas for a website design but one of the most basic yet helpful is sketching, as Chris demonstrated in his session. Creating rough visual pictures for what the pages might look like leads the way for the second step in the process, wireframes. Wireframes are a simple structural layout to show what happens from one page to the next. The next step is the mock-up where logos and colours are added and then it moves to the prototype where interactions and animations can be used to give an impression of what the website would be like.

UX design is both about creating something functional and usable as well as something fun and enjoyable to use. Good user experience design should meet a particular user need in the context of the product which is why there isn’t one definition for what good user experience design should be.

Research Methods

For my major project I will create a variety of user personas to help me distinguish what kind of features and attributes are needed on the website to give a functional yet pleasing experience for all users – no matter age, gender or involvement with the country music community. As well as looking at data showing the growth of country music and the groups of people most associated with it I will create a survey to gain more insight into who would use a website like mine and what they would need from it.

From here I would begin the brainstorming and ideation process using the “How Might We…” statements from Chris’ workshop to define what problems need addressing and how I might create solutions for them. Creating an empathy map may also be a good idea at this point as they are best used at the beginning of a design process. Typically, an empathy map would be split into the following 4 sections: Says, Thinks, Does and Feels and there may be overlap, as well as opposing answers, within the different sections. There are two main reasons that empathy maps are helpful – they can capture who a user persona is and demonstrate that to others.

There should be one empathy map per persona or individual with a clear purpose as to what the empathy map is for, for example to clarify who the user is. As this would be a qualitative method of research there would need to be qualitative surveys, interview notes, listening sessions and so forth. From here the thoughts and answers that have been written will need to be collated and distributed between the sections of the map. Analysis is important at this stage – are there crossovers between sections or gaps in understanding? The aim of the map is to remove bias from designs, understand user behaviour and needs as well as discover weaknesses in the research.  

Design Process

One of the main takeaways from Chris’s session was that sketching, and sketching quickly, is one of the most beneficial activities to do when trying to get ideas for the design of a product. Low fidelity sketches for the overall design of a site and more specific pages and how each page links from one to the next can be so helpful in visualising the site – even if things change later. A technique that Chris used in our session was something called Crazy 8’s. This is essentially low fidelity, sketching at speed to get as many loose ideas and words onto the page as possible. These can be filled with questions and scribbles and are not intended to be perfect but just a way to get ideas on paper. With each round of sketching its then possible to improve and adapt different elements. In each round there’s a second technique that’s helpful to use. This is SCAMPER which stands for:





Put to other use



This is for the purpose of focusing on changing or experimenting with different options for each new round until you get a better idea of what could work. From here we go to mid fidelity design such as a wireframe to show in more detail how things will look and link together.

Planning the Website

As I’m only at the very beginning of the process and am still at the start of the research stage I have created user personas and identified the target audience for the website. Through both Steph and Chris’ sessions I know the types of research that can be done and I will begin to undertake some of these methods for my own site. Before I can get onto designing, content is a major consideration because I need to know what’s going to be included on the site before trying to design it. I have many ideas for what could be included, for example elements such as live music listings, music reviews and news or hot topics related to country music and its artists. This could include things such as album releases or tour announcements and other similar things; some country stars (like Shania Twain) have specials on Netflix which could also be written about in the form of reviews or simply stating they’re available to watch.

Knowing I need to make the site modern but with a “country aesthetic” and at the same time keeping it non-gender and non-age specific is important as my target audience is varied for both of these categories. Accessibility is also incredibly important and must be factored into the design and organisation of content. Captions and text for screen readers must be clear and easy to understand. Having the option to change the colour scheme from light to dark may also be helpful to those with sight or reading difficulties.

Once I have the content and the information from my user research that I need to understand how best to organise that content I can begin to design the layout of the site, taking all of the above information into account.


In conclusion, the User Experience Research session with Steph and the User Experience Design session with Chris both helped to lay the foundation of understanding, not only for this module but for my Major Project as well as future projects that may come about. I will be keeping in mind the research methods such as interviews, focus groups and the research canvas to gain a good understanding of the user and their needs without assumption or bias when I begin to gather data for my Major Project. Taking on board the design methods from Chris such as Crazy 8’s, the “How Might We…” statements and SCAMPER, I will be able to create much more ideas and much better ideas than if I was to only sketch one or two. All of these things combined should help me to design and create the best user experience for the users of my project and at the same time, keep growing and developing my own learning of both UXR and UXD.


User Experience Design Explanation,%2C%20design%2C%20usability%20and%20function.


Steph Troeth’s Slides

Chris How’s Slides

Components of Design

Empathy map

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