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GN ReSound User Research

Project Description

My tenure with GN ReSound began in the fall of 2012 when the organization turned over some of the UX staff and reorganized the structure of UX for the remaining staff. I quickly became the senior member of our group in software research and development. Some UX and user research had previously been conducted, but was in dire need of an update.

There were a number of problems we knew of in the fitting software, Aventa. But, the overall perception of the fitting software (both external and internal) was it ranked very low in terms of usability. As the senior member of the team, one of my initial tasks was to map out a UX strategy to both discover usability problems and address known issues. The largest part of this strategy was to simply develop a relationship with our user segments through conducting research.

Project Details

Client GN Resound
Date On Going
Skills Interviewing, Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis, Survey Development, Usability Testing

The Plan

In my initial few months at GN, I mapped out a plan and presented it to stakeholders. Essentially, the plan included the following elements:

Expert Review / Heuristic Analysis

The primary objective here was to begin systematically identifying known usability issues, faulty design patterns and structural problems within the system that could readily and easily be identified by a usability professional, but might not necessarily be discovered through user research. Read more about this project here.

Ethnographic Observations

Ethnographic observations, for our team, were instrumental in helping us gain some familiarity with the domain as audiology is terribly complex. We systematically logged our observations and conducted a qualitative analysis of the results to identify key trends.

Semi-structured Interviews with Users

In the early phases of our plan, I worked closely with our internal audiologists to develop a pool of questions we could use in developing interview scripts and protocols. We, then, began contacting our users in person and via phone to conduct interviews. Once again, we conducted a qualitative analysis of the results and mapped these results to our existing research to identify key trends.

Routine Reporting of Research Results to Stakeholders

I am a staunch advocate of “advocating for UX” and research not reported has little benefit to anyone. I have given countless presentations in my years at GN to bring an awareness not only to our efforts, but also to the struggles and problems audiologists face in using our products each day.

Survey Users

I used our existing research and interview protocols to develop an electronic survey and conducted a national poll of our users’ perception of the fitting software. Read more about this project here.

Routine Usability Testing

This recommendation is one we still struggle with today. However, I believe routine exposure to our users is integral to building better products. We have managed to build routine validation testing into our last two major releases.

Call Center Visits

Early on, I considered our call centers a primary user. They do, after all, help manage the problems we create when designing our software. And they also help users manage their frustration in struggling through complex fitting scenarios. I have made routine visits to our call center in Bloomington over the past three years to understand what problems they are encountering from users who call in. This has resulted in a number of reports and I have actively fed this information into our other research endeavors.


I am happy we have been able to successfully implement many of the recommendations I made nearly four years ago. This has been an important lesson for me as I don’t feel we would have made this much progress with no plan in place. There is something “visionary” about a plan giving your team an objective to work for with clear goals and milestones.

What is even more impressive, however, is the number of problems we have been able to solve for our users through solid research and simply understanding what problems they were struggling with. All of the research above has fed into our latest releases bringing us even closer to a software system audiologists actually enjoy using.

Download A Sample Interview Script

View a sample interview protocol developed to help guide us through the interview process with users