Who are our users?

Defining the user story

The concept I’m working on for this module is based on a need that considers a triangulation of stakeholders:

I’ll be focusing on the user journey from the buyer’s perspective, as they will be the key users of the product, they are the design students who I interviewed last week. This student could also become a seller, but according to research their main objective is to buy materials to be used in their creative process.

 

Based on the interview data from last week, I put together a user persona. I created ‘customer profiles’ in previous marketing roles and I’ve always found the process rather cringe-worthy. Building a profile by a distilling the characteristics and tastes of several real people to create a stereotype can feel presumptuous. However, since UX persona’s are more focused on needs, goals and behaviors, the persona is more contextual.

Since my qualitative interviews captured the context-specific issues, I was able to craft a story that was less about stereotypes but more about the problems to be solved.  The goal of a user persona in UX teams is to align the team’s perspective. The aim is to capture the resonant ideas and feelings of our users, building them into the narrative of our work (IDEO 2015). In my first crit I was told that my persona document lacked clarity, so I added the card on the left which distills the user profile. I was also questioned on my use of a photograph, which kept the persona in the realm of the the stereotype. I realised that although I interviewed 4 women for my user research, there was no need to gender the product. Reinforcing stereotypical perceptions can run counter to gender inclusiveness (Hill 2017). I replaced the photo of a woman with a gender neutral illustration, and I plan to interview more people in the next round of testing, this first round was limited by time and reach.

User journey mapping

Using the same data that I used to create the persona, I started crafting a user journey. I found defining the actions tricky as I feel that I haven’t considered in depth the functionality of the app itself. However both user journeys and personas are an iterative, alive documents which should be updated as the project evolves (Harley 2015), so this is just the first round. I believe that completing the user flow – visualizing the complete path that users follow across the whole solution (Thailon 2018) – will help to refine the journey.

Sidenote: I noticed that many user journey maps include ’emotions’, often portrayed in a line graph that goes up and down. Now this is something I personally don’t like. The reduction of emotions to emojis or linear ‘ups and downs’ goes against my understanding of the spectrum and non-duality of the human experience. I see the problematisation of big-tech largely down to this boxed-in, limited understanding of emotional possibilities. However this mindset may limit me as a UX designer, I’m interested to hear what other UX designers think.

Needless to say, my user journey map focuses on actions, thoughts and ‘opportunities’, which are ideas for features at each stage. I think there’s a possibility to expand on the ‘browsing’ and ‘exploring’ areas of the journey as the features of the product become better defined. I look forward to coming back and expanding on both this journey and the persona as the project develops and I gather more data during user testing phases.

 

 

 

References

Harley, A (2015) ‘Personas Make Users Memorable for Product Team Members’ [online], Nielsen Norman Group, 16 February. Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/persona/ (Links to an external site.) [Accessed 19th February 2022]

HILL, Charles G. et al. 2017. ‘Gender-Inclusiveness Personas vs. Stereotyping: Can We Have It Both Ways?’ In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 6658–71.

IDEO. (2015)  ‘The Field Guide to Human Centred Design’. Ideo.org. [online] Available at: ideo.org/tools. [Accessed 10th February 2022]

Thalion (2018) ‘User Journey Maps or User Flows, what to do first?’ [online], Medium, 19 February. Available at: https://medium.com/sketch-app-sources/user-journey-maps-or-user-flows-what-to-do-first-48e825e73aa8 (Links to an external site.) [Accessed 19th February 2022]

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