As the volume of available institutional data and reporting tools continues to increase, coupled with additional reporting demands, institutional research offices can face a daunting challenge in determining how to communicate information effectively and meet the needs of diverse stakeholders. Although the management of data collection, compliance, and time-sensitive data requests can take priority over other considerations, as IR/IE offices increase their agency and data-engagement with decision makers across campus (Swing & Ross, 2016), learning more about data users’ needs and how current reporting does or does not address those needs takes on added importance. User experience analysis can provide a useful tool to both broaden and deepen IR/IE’s ability to inform decisions on campus and beyond.
The field of user experience analysis has roots across college campuses in diverse fields of study, from design, rhetoric, and psychology to human factors research, architecture, and computer engineering (Morville, 2014). Yet user experience analysis has not been widely incorporated into institutional research and reporting. A growing interest in data visualization, however, has created an opportunity for greater synergy between the fields. This presentation seeks to strengthen that connection by applying best practices from user experience research into institutional reporting in order to help IR/IE offices: 1) deepen their impact by providing information in a way that is accessible and empowering to decision makers, 2) improve their own efficiency by decreasing needs for iterative reporting and analyses, and 3) help anticipate information needs of decision makers and lessen the last-minute information pressures.
This session builds on the current discussion about the best practices in data reporting and visualization to include the valuable insights from user experience research in helping make those best-practice determinations. The session will begin with a brief overview of the field of user experience analysis, with particular attention to applications in data reporting and visualization for institutional research. The presenter will then detail a case study at a large Midwestern research university of designing a web-based framework for data reports and visualizations that incorporated user feedback throughout the design planning and implementation process. The presenter will discuss specific methodologies used, examples of user feedback gathered, and integrations of user-based research at various stages of the project, including illustrations of changes made based on feedback from both the “hits” and the initial “misses,” and the resulting lessons learned.
The presentation will address free or low-cost resources, both on campuses and online, for participants in collecting and incorporating user feedback in their own institutional reporting. The presentation will also include strategies for incorporating and managing end-user feedback from diverse stakeholders on an ongoing basis, both through formal and informal methodologies. The presenter will engage participants in an active discussion of current reporting projects on their own campuses and potential strategies for incorporating and managing user feedback. The presentation will conclude with ample time for further questions and discussion.