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  • Cybele Wu, EDD

Using Delphi in UX

I started working on the UX/UI bootcamp in March. As I approach the end of my first Capstone and towards the end of the bootcamp, I have pondered how to connect UX to academic research. During my doctoral studies, I used the Delphi method to find out the efficacy perceptions of using Telepractice with speech language pathology. It is a method that is not overused or understood, except in certain contexts. It was started by the Rand Corporation as a way to forecast and come to a consensus in the military.


In my study, I used three groups: Speech language pathologists, regulatory experts, and university facilitators. The Delphi method uses a series of rounds to disseminate the information gathered. Characteristics of the Delphi method include anonymity, rounds of data collection/analysis, and experts. The method can be conducted using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. I used it qualitatively because I wanted to dig deep into what the experts believed in, agreed upon, and what solutions were possible. The first round included semi-structured individual interviews. The second round used a qualitative survey sent to all participants where they responded and voted on statements from round 1. Round 3 also was survey and adjustments and final voting was conducted.


The Delphi method (or technique as it is often called) has been used in academic settings, as well as medical. Upon researching what the impact is and how it could be used in UX, I have only located articles on Card Sorting. Card Sorting is used to gather insights from users. Open Card Sorting is used where participants sort according to categories that they create themselves, whereas closed uses pre-defined categories. In the Delphi it uses an open card format but with a seed participant. The remaining participants make adjustments and comment on the other participants sorts.


Having come from an academic environment, where there are a number of different methodologies used, UX seems to use a limited number of methodologies. Most designers have never heard of Delphi. Even in academic environments, it is often unknown and misunderstood. I worked with a number of qualitative researchers during my dissertation journey and found that none of them were familiar with it. However, as is the case of doing in depth research, I became an expert in it and not only educated myself, but my dissertation member, and other qualitative researchers. It is my belief that Delphi could answer a number of questions designers have during the research process. Designers, researchers, and developers, depending on the organization often work individually and come together as needed. The Delphi, because of the collaborative nature could bring each of these groups together in the research process, continue through the design, and development stages. I see possibilities for the method during user interviews (which may define personas and what they need more clearly). In usability testing, it could also be used to define what works, what doesn't, what is needed.


How would you use research methodology differently? Would it make it more cohesive? Where do you see using the Delphi method in UX? Please comment below to start a discussion on this.







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