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Engagement Booth – World Usability Day

27 November 2014 - Nicola Dunlop

We would like to say a heart-felt congratulations to those newly engaged couples, some of which were a little camera shy but most are looking lovely hanging in our Engagement Wall!

The Engagement Wall provided some light-hearted fun around looking at the importance of building real customers into the development of personas.

Engagement Wall

A persona is an archetypal user which represents the needs, goals, values, and behaviours of larger groups of customers.

When used within project development they assure that the final outcome has been designed with the user in mind and is not simply driving a business concept to market.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to dismiss the use of personas (and wider user engagement) within the development phase due to time pressured projects or lack of awareness of their benefits.

This results in a product or service which does not respond to user needs and therefore likely to fail.

The creation of personas comes through direct customer engagement and qualitative research including one-to-one interviews, focus groups, diary studies and customer shadowing.

From this research, clusters around common user behaviours become apparent which feed into their creation, (see person clusters below).

Each persona is then a representation of a similar user base with their own needs, concerns and expectations from the service.

Around three to five personas are a safe number in ensuring the key user needs and expectations are being addressed.

Any more than six and they can become more of a challenge to embed into a project. Fewer personas with condensed yet concise needs are the best method to apply.

Persona Clusters

The generation process takes time (usually 2/3 weeks) and so can often be overlooked, resulting in personas that are based on an idea of a customer without involving the real user.

This is bad practice and extremely problematic as the business vision of a potential user is likely to be very different from who they are in reality.

In turn the product created will based around inaccurate user needs fail on the market.

Therefore it is essential to drop the stereotypes and get to know the true faces before factoring them into the product.

Example of a persona

How to factor them into the project?

Once personas have been generated they should be applied to the design process through customer journey mapping. The persona is taken through a specific customer journey while their experience is matched against their needs. Good questions to ask at each stage are;

  • Is the service working for them?
  • How could it be improved with them in mind?
  • What are they expecting to happen?

Repeating this process with each persona then beings to shape a more robust service designed with the user in mind.

Customer Journey Map Example

Personas can be applied on multiple levels within a project to break down internal silos and building a solid objective.

However the biggest challenge with implementing the methodology is culture. The culture within an organisation must be willing to listen to customers and develop alongside them through time.

Embedding personas into an organisation does take time however has proven to enhance brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and a lead to better user experience.

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