Here's the thing - Bolt | Peters was acquired by Facebook. This site will live on.

User Research Friday, Nov. 7th at Mighty!!!

Oct 20th, 2008 No comments yet


Ethnio gets shouted out

Oct 20th, 2008 No comments yet

BayCHI and UX Magazine

Oct 14th, 2008 No comments yet

On Aug. 12th 2008, literally dozens of BayCHI attendees fled the packed PARC conference hall after the sheer exuberance of Nate Bolt’s talk, “in the moment: research about life not just interfaces,” brought down the roof, which was on fire. Nobody was permanently harmed, but nearly half in attendance remain severely rocked. On top of that, User Experience Magazine, which I’m sure you read “just for the articles”, has published our article on client participation in remote research. That is a quick follow up to CHI accepting Tony and Nate’s paper, “Science of Fun: One-to-Many Moderating” that we used for Spore testing. This goes to show that enough talent, hard work, insight, and blackmail will get you published just about anywhere.

Vote for B|P @ SXSW

Oct 14th, 2008 No comments yet

Nate will also be participating on a panel about user research at SXSW this year – if you vote that is. So you know what would super help us out? If you went ahead and voted for the aforementioned panel. You have to make a quick annoying account (sorry), but please remember that not voting for our panel is like voting for some other, more boring panel that nobody wants to sit through.

The Remote Challenge

Oct 14th, 2008 No comments yet

Take the Remote Challenge!
Are you still testing users in a lab? Sign up for your first remote study with B|P, and if you don’t like it better than the lab, we’ll give you your money back – seriously. How serious, you ask? Up to $30k serious. (Some restrictions apply, of course, but it’s on the honor system, so go here to take the challenge.)

Ethnio Goes Multi-platinum

Oct 14th, 2008 No comments yet

Since we made Ethnio free and awesome, there have been over 6 million people who have seen an Ethnio recruiting screener, 250,000 people who have filled one out, and over 20 requests per second to the ol’ Ethnio servers. That is so holy crap. Big thanks to everyone who has used it over the years, and sorry for the down time and time-outs and time-warps. We learned it from Twitter (burn!). With some help from a few local Rails geniuses, we’ll be eliminating the downtime and dishing out more of the raw recruiting vengeance you can’t help but love.
Dig on Ethnio

Spore Research: Oh Snap That Was Us

Oct 14th, 2008 No comments yet

When Will Wright and EA dropped Spore, their newest and most ambitious video game to date, they contacted B|P to study players’ experience and see if they were having fun. So we came up with SNERD, a game research methodology that simulates a native gaming environment, uses touch screens to gather input, broadcasts 18 live video streams, and took the power down for our entire block. On the reals, we researched 59 individual gamers playing 393 hours over 13 months to help the Spore team hone the player experience. That’s a whole lot of players swearing, and it’s all in the outtakes video.
spore research outtakes video

Technology & the Future of Copyright

Oct 11th, 2008 No comments yet

How B|P Researched Spore

Sep 9th, 2008 6 comments

b|p gaming observation room

Some thoughts on The Cloud and ownership

Aug 21st, 2008 No comments yet

Client Project Pages are Moved

Jul 14th, 2008 No comments yet

Your project files and videos have been moved over to now, and should you have any problems whatsoever accessing those files please drop us a line or call 415.282.7839.

Remote is Better, pt. 2: We’re in ur computer

Jun 16th, 2008 1 comment

Stop Bullshit Research in Five Easy Steps

May 22nd, 2008 2 comments

Anyone in the UX field who’s worked for a few companies will recognize a type of moderated research that gives off a reek of inauthenticity. Tell me if this sounds familiar: one moderator and six users sit around a table in a converted meeting room. The moderator tells the users, each of whom have been prescheduled and screened through a recruiting agency, to go to a prototype website and pretend they’re looking for a 20 GB googlydooter, or whatever. The users go into their cubicles, where the prototype is brought up on six identical, factory-default computers. Some of the users finish in five minutes, some don’t finish at all, but everyone gets exactly fifteen minutes to finish their task. (The early finishers drum their fingers in boredom, waiting for the moderator to call time.) Finally, the moderator brings up a projection of the prototype, and asks the users to voice their opinions, one-at-a-time, keeping their responses brief, to give everyone time to speak. The process lasts about 1-2 hours, making everyone kind of tired. The participants are paid their incentives, and the moderator drives home, wiping bitter tears from his eyes as he pulls into his driveway.

How could that possibly have been useful? he thinks to himself. What has my life come to?

Continue Reading

So you wanna be a UX researcher?

May 9th, 2008 1 comment

It’s May! Time for graduations and job hunts, and while B|P isn’t hiring right this minute (we have an awesome team and are busy refining our practices) we will be again, before too long. It seemed like a good time for a post on what I look for when hiring user experience researchers, so here goes, in reverse order of importance:

#4: Education. If you have less than 3 or 4 years of experience, I’m looking for a degree in a related field, and that really can be anything from cognitive science to anthropology to HCI to…well, surprise me, I can be convinced. If it’s from a top school in our field, that’s cool, but it’s no big deal if it’s not. A Master’s is nice for showing a commitment to the field, but doesn’t tell me much about you as a practicing researcher. And whether you do or don’t have a related degree, you’ll definitely grab my attention with interesting people-oriented research projects during your education. (If you have more than 3 or 4 years of experience, I don’t much care where you went to school or what you studied—I’ll be evaluating your professional record exclusively.)

Quiz time!

May 6th, 2008 Comments Off on Quiz time!

What do expectant mothers have to do with Aunt Jean’s plans for her family vacation on a cruise?

HOW-TO Take Time-Stamped Collaborative Notes

Apr 17th, 2008 2 comments

One thing we’ve always wanted to have is a way to allow multiple people watching one of our research sessions to take automatically time-stamped, collaborative notes–everyone working in the same document, live, with entries labeled by author. Then I realized that it’s been under our noses the whole time: IM chat rooms! With a simple piece of free software, you’ve got a time-stamping, notetaking powerhouse at your disposal. And it even supports smileys. All it takes is a little ingenuity!

Bill Buxton’s Bad Ass CHI 2008 Keynote on Being Human in a Digital Age

Apr 10th, 2008 26 comments

Planet CHI

Okay, this photo has nothing to do with Bill Buxton’s keynote, except for that it’s a photo planet I made at CHI this year in Florence. The closing plenary talk was the most inspiring talk I heard at CHI. I wasn’t planning on taking notes, but as soon as he said he’d thrown out the talk that he originally planned to give, i got out my laptop and started typing. If I’ve missed any key points, please let me know! Here goes:

B|P Intern Tells All!

Apr 4th, 2008 No comments yet

The raw, uncut dirt on Bolt|Peters from our intern-for-a-day, UCSD Cog Sci student Jason van Merle. Enjoy! -Tony


So over spring break I decided to skip the margaritas and take my sliver of free time to visit with Bolt | Peters in San Francisco. Last spring, Nate Bolt and Mike Towber had given a presentation to my cognitive engineering class about B|P and the remote usability testing work they do. After spending so much time studying cognitive ethnography, which emphasizes getting your hands dirty and observing users in context, I got curious how one might observe user interaction without being able to actually view the user! They have an impressive client list, and I found their presentation very interesting, so I thought I’d fly up to San Francisco and check them out. They were kind enough to let me intern for the day.

Remote is Better, pt. 1: Getting Clients’ Hands Dirty

Mar 31st, 2008 No comments yet

In this inaugural entry in our B|P continuing series “Remote is Better”, we discuss how separating the moderator and the user eliminates the need for “two-way mirrors”–now you can get your clients into the driver’s seat with you (metaphorically). We show you how!

Lots of people think of remote research as a trade-off or a compromise–a cheap, quick alternative for when you can’t get users in the lab face-to-face. What often gets overlooked are the many, many qualitative benefits of testing remotely: if done properly, remote research can give you all kinds of data and insight that would be impossible to get otherwise. Of course, doing it properly means you need to know what you’re doing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were people around with years of remote research experience, who were nice (or dumb) enough to give away all their best practices on their official blog?

Cheddar UX

Mar 20th, 2008 No comments yet

Call us crazy, but around BP we think that the future of money is a big deal.

Remote Tasting from London

Jan 24th, 2008 No comments yet

We decided to try beaming in our favorite London-based B|P employee, Captain Ethnio (AKA Mike Towber) at our holiday lunch this year. It was awesome, and even the waitress got a kick out of talking with mike. Turns out restaurant people only look at you funny for a minute when you ask to use their booster seat for your laptop.

Whutup Italy

Jan 24th, 2008 No comments yet

We’ll be presenting our crazy “simulated native environment for video games” methodology at the CHI 2008 conference in Florence, Italy. We’re excited to finally have a paper accepted at CHI, even though the cool kids don’t go anymore we are still excited. More video game projects this year will be coming, along with the first remote game experience study, everrrrr.

B|P Parties All the Time

Jan 24th, 2008 No comments yet

B|P Party Invite
Actually, we only party once a year. Usually to celebrate our company anniversary, of which there have now been SIX. So you are formally invited to come celebrate six years of B|P and two years of ethnio this February 21st at our SOMA office. And also come celebrate our five year anniversary since we got really busy last year and spaced out on throwing that party. We know, we know. You can see photos of our space and some previous parties if you’re into that kind of thing, or just RSVP to the official invite below.

Get into My Car

Jan 24th, 2008 No comments yet

Recently, in addition to our always-cool remote web research, we’ve been getting off the web and into peoples’ cars. In November we had a great time riding along with drivers in different parts of California and observing their use of in-car technology. The goal is to help a car manufacturer design cockpit interfaces around the needs of real people driving. And we broadcast the whole thing to our clients live from the cars using EV-DO! Also, we’ve been getting outta people’s dreams. (Oh c’mon you love that song.)

The New Ethnio. It’s Free.

Jan 24th, 2008 No comments yet

Our new live recruiting web app, Ethnio recruits real people for all kinds of research – not just remote usability testing. As we get down with research that is more about people’s lives and less about usability, we want you to be able to make the same transition. So use ethnio for free and do better research! Also, plain old remote usability is soooo 2007. You can now recruit participants for in-person focus groups, ethnography, field research, or good old usability testing (if you have to). Sort and filter potential participants in real-time, keep track of who you’ve contacted, and edit any part of the recruiting screener on the fly. Check out the felt stop-motion movie, which breaks it on down: