User resarch

UserResearchTeaserI help my clients with target groups analysis for all types of interactive services. I use contextual user interviews to and identify the needs and expectations and frequently use personas to present the results.

In order to get an interactive service right you have to know who is going to use it. When you know who your user is you must find out what their needs and expectations are. To discover this you simply have to ask them. Finally, to get the right answers you need to ask the right questions.

The kind of user research I do most is focused on identifying what an interactive system or service should contain in terms of functionality and how it should be designed in order to attract a certain target audience. Because, if there is no attraction, there will be no users. Without users the system cannot add value to the business.

Focus groups or contextual interviews?

I have found focus groups almost useless for gathering appropriate information for guidance though a design process. It turns out that a group of potential users who discuss their requirements do not give an accurate image of their own behavior.

Interactive solutions are mostly a personal experience. Off course the user often uses interactive services to communicate with others, but he experience itself is still done very much as one person per device. When the user uses a service a lot of the interaction is actually done at an instinctive and unconscious level. The user is there for not fully aware of what is going on. This means that there is only limited knowledge to gain from asking a user a bunch of questions.

To get the most useful results I have found that one-on-one interviews in the users own environment gives much better results. This is called contextual user research.  Instead of asking the user a lot of questions I ask them to show me how they work, play or interact today. By watching the subject I get valuable information without them being aware of what I am actually paying attention to. You might say that the old expression “actions speak louder that words” applies brilliantly.

Defining your target groups

If you are considering developing a piece of software or any other interactive service a target group analysis will provide you with very useful information about the people you want to attract as users. A clear image of the target group will lead to better software.

Interestingly enough, traditional target groups used for marketing purposes are not as useful when creating an interactive service. It turns out that gender, religion and socioeconomic context is not as important when it comes down to how the user perceives a particular site or system. It is rather the activities, interests and personal lifestyles that determine the target groups for interactive solutions.

This means that even if your business has a predefined target group used for marketing purposes, it might not be accurate for your interactive channels. It is fairly safe to say that sub groups within your normal target groups are more likely to appreciate an interactive service than others.

Using personas

Persona

A persona is a fictitious person used to represent a target group. The person is described with name and given a personality. The goal is to force the development team to think about the users.

There are several ways of presenting the result of user research. In order to present a target group analysis for an interactive project the most common practice is to use the persona model. In this model you choose one fictitious individual to represent the target group. The person or persons are preferably described thoroughly with enough detail for a development team to create a personal relationship with each persona.

The persona are then refereed to when brainstorming or outlining a solution. Used right, a persona will help the developers to think about the users and adapt their solutions to match the intended users needs, wants and abilities. Before each design decision the team can ask themselves if it’s possible that the persona  “Anne the attendant” would use a certain feature if it was designed this way? Will she be comfortable having to take these steps in order to get to the page we want her to go to?

I help my clients target groups analysis for all types of interactive services. I use contextual user interviews to and identify the needs and expectations and frequently use personas to present the results.

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Words from my clients

Mårten helped us find new ways of doing business!
Pontus Rosin, Partner, Adeptic Technologies AB
 
It’s genius in its simplicity!
 
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Jonas Persson, CEO, Box Experience
 
Mårten is full of energy and great ideas, I would recommend him in a heartbeat!
Jonas Björkman, Art Of Job
 
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Martin Bystedt, Cloud Nine
 
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Mikael Palmér, NetRelations AB
 
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Niclas Giertz, Creuna AB
 
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Mårten Angner | Interaction Design Technology | Fredsborgsgatan 25 117 58 Stockholm | marten@angner.se | +46707770579