On this episode of the Human Tech podcast we talk with our guest Danielle Cooley about the challenges of user testing. What works, what doesn’t, and why.
What it is
Why you can’t skip it
What kind of user research to do
Making the ROI case for user research
If you want to learn more about user research by the way, we have an online video course on the topic.
Should we let go of personas? Should we stop using them?
One of the reasons that personas may be looked down on these days in some design circles is because people are making mistakes in how they create or use them. Below I’ve outlined some of the common mistakes I see around personas when I’m called in for consulting on a client project. And after discussing the mistakes, I offer a suggestion for an alternate tool in your Target Audience Toolbox. First, the mistakes:
Which leads us to the tool you need to have BEFORE you create personas, and might be the tool you use INSTEAD of personas…
When I teach about user research there is a step before I teach personas and that is identifying user groups. A persona is a fictional representation of a user group.
Let’s say that you are designing a banking app. Who is the target audience? You decide that you have three different target audiences. One is people who are already customers of your bank and are used to banking online. Another is people who are already customers of your bank, but are not used to banking online, and the third group is people who are not current customers, but are used to banking online, perhaps with one of your competitors.
The next question to ask is how these groups differ. What are the important criteria that distinguishes one from another? Is it whether or not they are current customers? Is it their familiarity with online banking? Is it something else? Where they live? What their native language is? How old they are? Based on the research you have (hopefully) done, you determine which variables are the important ones that distinguish one group from another.
Let’s say that when you look at your information you decide that whether or not they are a current customer won’t make any difference. That two of the user groups vary only on that one criteria, and your research tells you that criteria is not that big a deal in terms of using your new app. In that case you can combine those two user groups into one.
A persona then is just a representative fictional person that summarizes one user group. And the persona would summarize them only on the variables that you think are important (i.e., no cats in this case).
But this also means that maybe you don’t need a persona. Here’s a secret — after creating a lot of personas throughout my career I’m going to confess that I don’t use them when I’m designing. I’ve created the user groups first and that’s what I work off of. I only create personas if a) the client asks me for them or b) we need to share this information out to others, such as stakeholders, developers, and so on. In my experience personas are more approachable than “User Group Tables” to people who are not used to them.
In summary, go ahead and use personas, but try and avoid making these mistakes. And if the personas are just for you, consider using the prequel — the User Group Table — instead.
Nick Fine says “YES!”. In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we have a spirited conversation with Nick about his crusade to bring Psychology back in a big way to UX. We discuss what that means, why it’s important, and the need for large-scale user research projects.
If, after listening to this episode, you want to get involved, (and you may want to do that after you listen in), here are some ways to reach Nick:
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-wBqOhrpbk&t=5s
Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.
You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.