fffunction User Research - Week 2

Written by: James Dexter On: 2 Oct 2015 In: User experience

For week 2 of my internship I was at the Bristol studio. Being in Bristol was a nice change of pace from being in Penryn, and I was ready to get stuck into to talking with more users.

I was becoming more comfortable with talking to people, and (hopefully) my technique had improved a bit from the prior week. Talking to users face to face is much better, people say a lot more with their body language than they do with their words. Face to face talks give another level of depth and insight into an already insightful conversation. By mid week I had collected a fair amount of research that I could start to turn into personas.

A persona is a fictitious representation of the types of people that might use a site or product that you are designing. They are really useful to refer back to to reaffirm who it is you are designing for later on down the line. I think that even if you aren’t designing a website, or app, or whatever, they are really useful as at the end of the day designers are (usually, but not explicitly) designing for another group of people. They are also useful because to create them you have to spend the time to put yourself into another persons shoes. When you create a persona, you have to consider their journey, what motivates them, what puts them off, scares them, inspires them, what makes them happy and what outright frustrates them. And that takes empathy. I talked about empathising in last weeks post. Empathising with users really is key to designing products and services that benefit them. Ask someone what they want and they will tell you, but you probably won’t find out what they need. That is where empathising comes in.

I’d also started to create some user journeys. For me this was about visualising and bringing their journey to life. In the past I’ve done this by creating animations and storyboards, which are really useful - unfortunately animations are a little bit time consuming. I changed my direction this time, and my thinking behind this was that the users were influenced by different things. It wasn’t just their linear journey. They were being influenced by different factors in their journey to an agency. This might be recommendations, websites they’ve seen or people they’ve worked with. Some of these came as quite a surprise. Then there were different needs on the websites, and different paths and touch points that influence their journeys. One users journey was almost a microclimate of smaller interactions and touch points. Creating a map of this seemed like a far better way of visualising this. It also has the scope to grow and adapt to new paths, which in a sense an animation can’t do. So I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities of a journey map in the future.