Mar 10, 2011

Personas and their cats and Dogs

Many a time a Persona is created & relegated to the “fairy tale documents” project archive and laid to rest till it crumbles to the nothingness of digital dust. Usually the focus is more about cats and dogs that the persona has, what his or her children do and how much he would like to improve his or her sad life.

A persona should really be used to create empathy about the needs of the actual user of the system. It is a mind set change that is required from all the stakeholders of your project/product. Only when the team/stakeholder's start talking in terms of what “Jill’s” really needs, tasks, and goals are, would your persona make an actual difference.

Ive often noticed this about the "good/apt persona's that we develop:

  • In due course of our discussions with the business folks we find that asking questions on behalf of the persona lead's to a design decision that created a complete paradigm shift in our solution.
  • We come up with solution's that address hitherto neglected business areas and reduces many a redundant step that poor users would otherwise have had to do
  • The focus is really on What is really critical, the user experience Goal

Moral of the story: The next time you are describing how Nadia really loves her dog’s fur and really hates how the dog craps all over the new hardwood floor that she installed, think what needs to be really articulated to make an informed design decision.

Of course, this post is not valid if you are designing a site for pet dogs.

Mar 7, 2011

The need to sell User Experience

Anyone who has been in the field of User experience for a long time realizes the need for being a good salesman. In this post, I have tried to articulate the need for every User Experience professional to be a "salesman" for his domain.

UX, as a discipline sadly suffers from a lot of misconception, Confusion about methodologies, what we do, etc. Even if you are not contributing to RFP's or sales presentation, you still need to sell UX to your Colleagues whether they are business analysts, development folks, or Senior management. Not doing this means that you and your team are relegated to the fringes and are not contributing to the full extent of what you or your team as UX professionals can contribute to the initiative/ project or Program

Some of the scenarios mentioned below describe the situation where a usability professional needs to sell

  • Getting involved at a strategic rather than at a tactical level. ( i.e What should a product
    offer, why is a feature needed..)
  • You get to know about initiatives where a product is being developed without the involvement of a usability team and you try to make a business case as to how usability is essential and can be a differentiator
  • You/ team are called in to Work as the UX team but are limited to mock ups, Wire frames, or visual design options. You know as a usability professional the need to follow the User centered design process and try to educate you clients/ Colleagues of how usability should be inculcated into the project / Program
  • Stakeholders who have some awareness of usability and make assumptions of what is needed from their perspective. You have to make sure that you educate the stakeholders about the correct way in a very diplomatic way. Remember, they are experts most of the time, and most of the time, how you put the point across is equally as important as what is put across