31 March - 1 April 2016

Saïd Business School, Oxford, UK

User research with social media

Dave Ellender Evidence Tools

Session type: Hands-On
Session duration: 90 minutes

About this Hands-On

It is premature for organisations to treat social media as nothing more than opportunities for customer service enquiries, help requests and brand advocacy. Social media platforms are a rich source of data about users which often gets ignored in favour of other more controlled research activities like interviews and user testing.

New monitoring software tools make it relatively easy to track a range of keywords and capture a wealth of tweets, posts and mentions on topics of interest. While the data can be messy and overwhelming, it is nothing less than 'research gold' - users speaking in their own language!

Indeed, the data is so easy to capture that temptations to use sentiment analysis features are hard to resist. However, sentiment analysis aims to produce high level insights at the expense of the nuanced details that reside in the data. So, how can we work with social media?

In this 90 minute workshop, we will show you how we did user research with social media for a heavily-used web service at Highways England.

We will present a short case study of our work as we introduce five steps you can follow on any project:

  • defining your keywords
  • using monitoring tools
  • creating a usable data set
  • analysing data
  • creating research insights.

There will be plenty of hands-on group activities where you can work through these steps with a sample data set (which we will provide).

We will end with an opportunity for participants to brainstorm new techniques or applications of user research with social media.

About the Speaker

Dave Ellender is a design researcher with 15 years experience under his belt. He has worked on a range of platforms including web, mobile phones, interactive television, touchscreen kiosks, interactive furniture, trains, interactive robots, intelligent homes and smart clothes... Dave has worked with users of all ages, from over 90 years old to some as young as four.

Dave has led major commercial projects in the UK for eBay, Nokia, the National Trust and British Gas. In the public sector, he has worked at the Government Digital Service, led major projects for the Department for Education and NHS Direct. He has also consulted abroad in France, Germany and India. Currently, he is working as a consultant with Highways England.

He is a co-founder of the popular UXBristol conference and set up the Bristol Usability Group in 2006. Dave has an M.Sc. in Human Communication and Computing from Bath University (2001).


Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of service design techniques. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.

Lightning Talks

Short talks (max 10 minutes) on almost any topic.


The information for this talk hasn't yet been confirmed.