User Research Unit
The UR unit investigates the use of technology in everyday life and supports the development of innovative technologies that fit the envisioned context of use.

Our commitment: Context-sensitive and participatory research and design
The design of new technological solutions begins with a clear understanding of the situation at hand. User research helps expose people’s needs, attitudes experiences, and practices within a given domain.  

The UR group is committed to:
(1) Exploring when, why and how media and digital tools make sense to people as they learn, work, relax and socialize, and
(2) Enabling stakeholders to weigh on decisions in the technological innovation processes that are likely to affect them in the future.

Our methodology: Cutting across disciplines and stages of innovation
Throughout the years, we have combined and advanced research methods from a variety of disciplines, in particular, Communication Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Human-computer interaction design, and Anthropology. Our human-centered methodological toolkit allows us to tackle critical research questions in different stages of technological innovation: From domain analysis and idea generation to short-term and long-term evaluation of research prototypes in controlled and natural environments (cf. Living Lab). For example, the innovation binder (to coordinate iterative prototype development in multi-disciplinary teams) and proxy technology assessment (to gauge future technology usage) were both developed in the UR group.

Our research: A collaborative investigation of living with technology
The scope of our research encompasses different facets of everyday life: Play and learning, care and wellbeing, privacy and trust, urban and mobile living, media consumption and production. We combine fundamental research tracks with applied research. In the past, this has led us to collaborate with industry (e.g. Alcatel-Lucent, BARCO, and Telenet), media companies (e.g. VRT, Medialaan, and SBS), hospitals, local and federal governmental institutions and cities (e.g. Stad Gent) and non-profit organizations (e.g. Wit-Geel Kruis and iDrops). Within SMIT, we link our research with business modeling and policy research activities to create an overall picture.

Your questions: Research output that is relevant to your organization
We welcome requests from organizations involving, but not limited to, the following questions and related research outputs:
  • How can we (re-)engage our audience? – Problem definition, design space, long and short lists of ideas
  • What is known about this practice or domain? – State-of-The Art overview
  • Who is our audience? – User segments, personas and workflows
  • Which opportunities and challenges are ahead? – SWOT
  • Why are people (not) picking up or abandoning this technology? – Socio-technical drivers & barriers
  • How can we match our technology innovation to user practice? – Evidence-based design requirements, guidelines, concepts and scenarios
  • How do people experience our technology? – Quality of Experience measures

Project Events Publication
Sociale media en privacy: vertaling van de EMSOC onderzoeksresultaten naar de praktijk. Een overzicht van tools voor monitoring, beleid, sensibiliserings en educatie. (2014)

EHBO kit voor privacy en sociale media. (2014)

Jongeren en sociale media: input voor sensibiliseringsacties rond privacy geletterdheid (2013)

Facebook ziet alles: Sociale netwerken ontrafeld (2013)

Inleiding (2013)

Roadmap voor sociale mediawijsheid (2013)

Facebook ziet alles: Sociale netwerken ontrafeld (2013)

Understanding Hearing Impaired Children: Involving target users with special communication needs (2010)

School's out for Redesign: Involving Stakeholders in the Creation of a Teleclassroom Environment and Experience (2010)

Finding a role for e-patients in information sharing between healthcare providers. (2010)

SEGA. Self-representation in virtual worlds and games: the creation and experience of avatars (2010)

Share4health WP 7.2: EMR use and data sharing: Experimentation evaluation and exploration of future practices of GPs (2010)

Jan en alleman journalist? Het raadplegen, delen, beoordelen en beargumenteren van gebruikersgegenereerd nieuws. Een kwalitatief gebruikersonderzoek naar tendensen van productief nieuwsgebruik als zelfpublicatie bij gewone Vlaamse nieuwsgebruikers. (2010)

Innovative ICT applications for Hearing Impaired Children: A Participatory Design Approach (2010)

Co-Creation and User-Generated Content - Elderly People's User Requirements (2009)

ICT adoptie en gebruik door KMO's: een sectorspecifieke benadering. Presentation at workshop 'Aannemers en Informatica' by WTCB, Confederatie Bouw and Syntra on informatica in de bouwsector. (2009)

The Place of TV and Other Media in Common Gaming Practices: A Fluent Marriage?. Paper for EuroITV2009 (2009)

Beyond us and them: a mixed method participatory UCD approach to support a virtual scientific interdisciplinary organisation. Paper for CHI 2009. (2009)

IBBT Teleclassing, deliverable D4.3.2: Classroom within a studio setting (2009)

Video Q-sac-main research results (2009)

Targeting Different Audiences in Computer and Videogames: A Qualitative Multimethod approach (2009)

Teleon WP 2.4 Usability, likeability, sociability and playability analysis. (2009)

Share4Health WP 7.1.1. Health records: socio-medical domain analysis from the viewpoint of pharmacists. (2009)

Researching audiences of computer and video games: methodological approaches and thoughts. (2009)

IBBT CoCoNut: WP 1.2: Communication, collaboration and coordination in the IBBT community. Report of an ethnographic fieldstudy in IBBT research groups. (2009)

Explaining the economic digital divide: A multimethod study on ICT adoption in micro-enterprises. Presentation at Digital Divide working group for the IAMCR (International Association for Media and Communication Research) congress ‘Media and global divide (2008)

Digitale Hefbomen voor Innovatie bij Micro-ondernemingen (DIGIMO): studie van het ICT-bezit en -gebruik in Vlaamse micro-ondernemingen - input voor een ICT-stimuleringscampagne bij micro-ondernemingen (2007)

Analysing sector specificity regarding ICT and broadband usage by SMME businesses. (2007)

Understanding sector specificity regarding ICT and broadband usage by SMEs in Belgium. Paper presented at the BroadBand Europe Conference (2006)

ICTs and SMEs – Opportunity or not? (2006)

SMMEs and ICT Survey in Belgium: Methodology and first results. Paper presented at 'LINK-conference (BILA) (2006)

Stimuleringsbeleid voor ICT-gebruik bij KMO's: onderzoeksverslag en input voor sensibiliseringscampagne (2006)