HackFwd Build 0.8 - Berlin December 2011
Jonathan Briggs, co-founder of Hyper Island, issues a rallying cry: “put users at the heart of your projects.”
In this talk, Jonathan leads us through his years of experience with user modelling, some formal and some less so. What he has learned, and what he is keen to impart, is that too often we don’t think of “users” as real people. He gives the example of the Google image search for “user” in which the first page of results returns an army of featureless icons. These aren’t people, he explains. “This monochromatic view is futile,” he warns. “Designing for everyone is a completely futile exercise. You need to cut out the people you don’t want to design for.”
Jonathan insists that focusing on two or three user types is a far surer path to success than trying to capture everyone. He explains how a closer focus on those few groups can lead to more users in the long run. He gives the example of his own e-commerce site. Not everyone who visits is there to make a purchase. Some come to compare prices, others to try to create a business relationship, still others for information for projects of their own. “Can we discount these visitors?” he asks. “Or can we transform them in some way, can we capture them in their other needs?” The only way to do that, he says, is to turn users back into real people.
In the talk, he explains a powerful technique called “persona modelling.” This technique allows you to better understand a set of needs and desires by creating narratives about a particular type of person: what their hopes are; what their needs are; what their worries are. The persona has a name, an approximate age, a sex, and whatever other demographic data seems appropriate. The persona “should permeate very part of your project,” he says, from the business case to the design to the viral acquisition strategy.
Jonathan also explains why testing, as it is usually carried out, is overrated, and why observation and soliciting feedback are far more effective, and he demonstrates tools for getting information from the real people who use your products. He also explains how personas can transform your way of thinking about analytics, turning them into compelling user stories that have an impact on all of the design and planning process.
Watch Jonathan’s talk to find out why putting real people at the heart of your thinking, rather than trying to design for everyone, will allow you to “delight as many people as possible.”