UX apps to make your research easier (and more fun!)

I reviewed a few apps this week for the plasma slides that we have in the Information Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School and I enjoyed some of the apps so much, I just had to share them. Two of these apps were part of my plasma slide lot and the third was inspired by a planning session with Meg Westbury for our up-and-coming UX teaching session for librarians, due in January 2015. So use these apps if you have the necessary tech to make them work as they are pretty nifty. All of them are free though which helps!

1. Post-It Plus

I got so incredibly excited about this app as I have spent many an hour typing up Post-It content from group meetings and have had to make sure that I don’t lose any pesky Post-Its that was to attach themselves to something that isn’t my desk work area.

Post-It Plus works really well on the iPad (unfortunately it is only available on iTunes at the moment) and you basically use it to take a snapshot of your Post-It covered space and it will capture them all, covert them into really helpful and manageable groups and allow you to then share them as a PDF or other such image-based file. Great for capturing any focus group work or other situations where people have been pooling ideas.

So you capture: IMG_0080You name your group of Post-Its whatever you want:
IMG_0082

And you can reorder them into something simple:

IMG_0086

Sorted! Oh and they have a video too.

2. Skitch

Skitch comes from the people who make Evernote and I can’t wait to use it with photo diary work. This app is available from iTunes and for Android devices so lots of people can use it well. Essentially you take a photo and you are then given the chance to annotate it with text, arrows, emoticons and free-hand sketch lines. I could see this as being really helpful if you have a user who has taken a photo of their workspace and wants to explain what everything is without you necessarily having to be there to listen. A nice self-contained reporting device! You can also annotate things like maps too which could be useful for anyone looking at physical spaces on a wider scale.

Here’s one I did earlier by snapping a shot of a lovely book display in the Information Centre and scribbling all over it.

From Skitch

And ooh video!

3. Super Note

Originally I was going to test out and recommend an interview recording app called Highlight but alas, it has been discontinued much to the disappointment of Meg and me.

So, I did some digging and found Super Note! Highlight was originally recommended to me because you could tap your smartphone’s screen whenever someone said something interesting during the interview so you could go back and check out the..well…highlights once your session has finished. This is especially useful for when you’re reviewing and transcribing key information for your research.

Super Note is a pretty nifty app that is free and available on iTunes and for Android which is a nice positive. The free version offers a lot of functionality but it will occasionally prompt and remind you to upgrade to the full package which can be a bit of a pest but really isn’t too invasive considering it’s free!

When taking recordings, you can use the note function to add comments to yourself as well as a one-touch time stamp if you want to simply draw attention to a certain comment when you’re reviewing things later on. You can also take photos (one shot per note in the free version) which will then get attached to your note and recording which is rather helpful. I can see images being useful for a post-cognitive mapping interview or something similar so I can bundle everything together in one place.

Super Note is promoted as a tool for students keeping notes and resources together during their lectures but I think UX researchers could get a lot from this too.

So you load it up:

photoYou get your recording started while taking notes and pictures:

photo 2

And hey presto! Notes, images and recordings are all tied together in a neat little bundle for later unpacking:

photo 1

In conclusion…

I found these apps through looking for new and free ways to do my research. I realise not all of us are fortunate enough to have gadgets and gizmos aplenty, but if you do have a humble smartphone, it can help a huge amount with making UX research life a tiny bit easier.

What apps do you use? Got any good recommendations? Let me know in the comments and enjoy exploring these wonderful UX-friendly apps!

Image credit: Ruben Bos via Flickr
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