This case study showcases a selection of UxD artefacts and methods I most often create or apply throughout the product development lifecycle. These include personas, stakeholder interviews, competitor research, focus groups, sketches, wireframes, prototypes, qualitative and quantitative research.
Traditional personas are usually heavily researched to create validated representations of the company’s target audience which are then packaged up and presented in a tidy report to the company’s leadership. They are time-consuming and expensive to create.
The first example of a persona (seen below) forms part of Uniblue's set of main marketing and product personas. For these personas I worked closely with our Business Intelligence team, basing my work on research results they had recorded in Customer Profiling and Satisfaction Survey Reports.
Proto-personas are a variant of the typical persona, with the important difference that they are not initially the result of user research. Instead, they originate from brainstorming workshops where company participants try to encapsulate the organisation’s beliefs. The second and third are examples of proto-personas.
These interviews are typically conducted as part of the initial research phase in product development. They serve to determine stakeholder needs and identify business requirements. Documenting stakeholder needs involves identifying, understanding, and representing different, and sometimes opposing viewpoints. It is important to collate all viewpoints to form a complete picture.
Competitor analyses involve the auditing or reviewing of competing websites and applications. In addition, we also conduct usability tests on competing products. Results are compiled to summarise the competitive landscape.
A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a idea, product or service. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. We often conduct focus groups with key people from our Sales & Marketing, Customer Support and Business Intelligence teams.
Sketches, wireframes and prototypes
I consider pen and paper a vital part of any UX process. Through a series of rough sketches and wireframes we explore the framework of a product, content, navigation and interactions.
We always start out by sketching on scrap paper, stickies and whiteboards. Other most-often used favourite tools to ideate and share ideas are Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, Paper and Google Docs. The following examples show some sketches on paper and whiteboard; and user flows in a Google Doc format.
Through User Journeys we identify how users flow through our products and identify possible friction points.
Depending on the fidelity needed, I sometimes prototype on paper or using Axure or Protoshare. Earlier in my career - before these prototyping tools became popular - I used to prototype with Flash and Fireworks.
Qualitative and quantitative research
Our quantitative research efforts are usually centered on event-tracking and surveys. The analytics collected through this research help us identify interesting user behavior and highlight further research questions, to be tested in a next iteration.
We regularly conduct both in-person and remote usability testing. This vital form of qualitative research helps us understand what people are doing when using a product or service.
A/B testing is a technique, originally developed by marketers, to gauge which of two (or more) relatively similar concepts achieve a goal more effectively. When applied in the Lean UX framework, A/B testing becomes a powerful tool to determine the validity of hypotheses. The name suggests a limit on the amount of things that can be tested, but in fact you can test as many permutations of your experience as you’d like (this is called A/B/n testing). The trick is to make sure that the changes made are small enough that any change in behaviour can be attributed to them directly. If too many things are changed, any behavioural change cannot be directly attributed to any one hypothesis.