A new user research and user experience (UX) lab has opened at Bristol’s Harbourside arts centre, the Arnolfini. It has been purpose-built for conducting and observing qualitative research and usability testing by UX and service design specialists Mace & Menter.

Using a lab to observe how people use a digital product or service means companies can base decisions around future strategy and development on evidence rather than guesswork so the product has a higher chance of succeeding.

The space is available for use to Bristol’s growing technology sector. Mace & Menter will also use the space to run its own research – carrying out face-to-face depth interviews and usability tests – exploring a problem or a design concept with the people they are designing for.

The lab consists of an interview room and a large observation room linked with high-quality audio and video streaming. Omnidirectional Shure studio microphones and speakers, as well as 4k cameras, 65” screens, help make up the comfortable and relaxed, researcher-designed environment.

Mace & Menter are specialists in service design and user experience for complex services. The team works with organisations, including the Government Cabinet Office, DCMS, Policy Lab, Scope, and V&A, that want to significantly improve the way people experience their services.

 Sam Menter, Mace & Menter’s Co-founder and Managing Director, says: “Our work is all about the experience of the people we design for, but also of the people we are working with. Experience is about so much more than what we deliver, it’s also about the journey. When we were designing and building the lab, we thought carefully about both the participant and the observer experience.”

He adds: “User research is fundamental to the way we work. We involve the users of a service in discovery and throughout the design process. Running research in a space where a wider group can observe means you get much more out of the work.”

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Geraint Evans