Week 3: Who are our users

I started this week’s assignment with the question, “Who are our users, and what makes their happy and unhappy paths in UX?” this is something that as an existing web developer, I haven’t really given much thought to in the past, the reason being that I was just building the product and getting feedback about specific issues and frustrations, rather than looking at the beginnings of the design of the product as we are doing this week.

When researching for your UX journey, it’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of your users. To learn more about them, you can use various methods and gain a deeper understanding by leveraging the core principles of psychology in your design. This way, you can influence their behaviour and drive them towards desired outcomes.

This process as Don Norman explains, is called user research, β€œuser research is a systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting qualitative and quantitative data about users and their context, needs, and goals to inform design decisions” Norman, D. A., & Draper, S. W. (1986)

By having a comprehensive knowledge of your users’ needs, motivations, and decision-making processes, you can create designs that resonate with them and encourage them to engage with your product, service, or brand over that of your competitors.

By applying psychological principles in your design, such as persuasion, motivation, and decision-making, you can create experiences tailored to your users’ needs and drive them towards the desired behaviour. Ultimately, this results in increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and a stronger connection between your brand and your users.

  1. User personas

I created a single user persona for this week’s task that profiled an imagined user of my competitor’s products, I added in a competitor analysis as well for the three main competitors in the field.

1.1 Self-reflection I created the above persona and got some feedback on it from my course Tutor, who wrote the following:

I think it’s often worth trying to put the needs and goals into Lydia’s language rather than talk in purely solution terms, as soon as you start talking about GUIs and AI it breaks the illusion of who Lydia is, so Lydia might ‘want to be able to see where her donations are going’ and ‘want some help choosing which organisations to donate to

Using personas in the ideation phase is when we can start to think about what solutions would best meet our user’s needs. I would recommend bringing it back to the core problem and need – Why is it that Lydia needs a visual representation of charitable giving and automation? Using the five whys here would be a good thing to try

1.2 Redesigning my user personas

Considering the above feedback, I revisited my original user persona and edited it into a more visually appealing version with less text and better usability; by creating this, it broke down the visual parts needed for a team to go back to and reference over and over with more ease. I also created an additional user persona so that there was not such a singular point of focus.

Applying the five why’s to what Lydia was after helped me create a clearer user persona profile, these were as follows:

Why: Lydia likes to give to charity

Why: She aims to change her charity activity

Why: Lydia finds it overwhelming to keep track of all her giving

Why: it can be difficult to keep up with each charity’s activity

Why: She is very visual and wants to see her giving activity clearly

1.3 Self criticism

This week I created user personas that were made up of my collated specific user issues (gathered from my user research); these original user personas were not that useful initially, applying the five whys reflective method to these user personas allowed for a clearer mapping tool to be forged from them.

This came from a misunderstanding of what the user personas were to be used for; they are simply a tool that allows for a clearer picture of an imagined user’s overall needs, frustrations and required use cases to be assessed when creating a UX journey. I realised that applying the five whys gave me empathy for the user’s story rather than using a user persona to just micro-focus on issues they face concurrently.

One powerful tool designers can use to create personas of their users, by taking average user data from an understanding of the existing user data you can personify imagined users that help design teams visualise who they are creating for.

Personas are imagined, yet highly detailed representations of the various types of users who are likely to interact with a product, service, website, or brand. They are created through a process of design research, where information about target users is gathered and analyzed. By constructing personas, designers and researchers can effectively encapsulate and synthesize the behaviors, motivations, and characteristics of real people, allowing them to better understand and design for the needs of their target audience.

Personas serve as a valuable tool for designers and researchers, allowing them to bring the users they are designing for to the forefront of their thinking, and to make informed decisions about design, features, and functionality that are grounded in a deep understanding of user needs. By creating personas, designers and researchers can also ensure that they are not designing based solely on their own personal biases and assumptions, and can make objective decisions that are informed by user data and research insights.

The creation of personas serves several purposes in design and research:

  1. Summarizing design research: Personas are a tool for synthesizing information about the people for whom a product or service is being designed. They help to consolidate and categorize insights gained from user research and analysis.
  2. Targeting specific user groups: By creating personas, designers can ensure that they are designing for a specific group of users, rather than designing for an abstract concept of “everyone” or designing based solely on their own biases and assumptions.
  3. Staying focused on user needs: Personas serve as a reminder of the users for whom the product or service is being designed. This helps to keep the design team focused on meeting the needs and solving the problems of those users throughout the design process.
  4. Problem-solving focus: Personas help to focus design efforts on solving specific problems faced by the target users. By clearly defining and understanding user needs, designers can prioritize and make informed decisions about what features and functionality to include in the product or service.
  5. Objectivity in design decisions: Personas can also help designers make less subjective design decisions. By basing design choices on data and research insights, rather than personal opinions or assumptions, designers can ensure that they are creating products and services that truly meet the needs of their target users.

2. User Flows

User flows, also known as UX flows and flowcharts, are diagrams that detail a user’s journey when using a product. They provide a visual representation of the various steps that a user takes to accomplish a task, and help to map out the complete path from start to finish. This includes everything from the initial point of entry, such as an onboarding screen or homepage, to the final interaction, such as making a purchase or creating an account.

The user flow provides an effective tool for designers to evaluate and optimize the overall user experience. It shows all the possible routes that a user can take, making it easy to identify any bottlenecks or areas for improvement, and ensuring that the product is intuitive and user-friendly. Overall, user flows are an essential component of product design, and help to create an effective, seamless user experience.

UX flows allow designers to map out every turn a user can take when using a product

Key points of User Flows..

✍🏻 User flows are diagrams that detail the journey of a user when using a product.

πŸ‘οΈ They provide a visual representation of the steps a user takes to accomplish a task.

πŸ—ΊοΈ User flows map out the complete path from the initial entry point to the final interaction.

πŸ€” They are used by designers to evaluate and optimise the overall user experience.

πŸ” User flows are an essential component of product design and help to create a seamless user experience.

↕️ User flows are about diagramming actions, not buttons, navigation or site maps

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to create a user flow of an existing product that we had used to date, I chose the Air bnb log in user flow: I liked the simplicity of it and its reductive nature in that assesses the user’s email and depending on whether the user has already signed up for air bnb or if they need to register for the site, the beauty here is that it splits the traditional steps that a user would usually have to take, in half.

Screenshot 2023-02-09 at 20.37.18.png

3. The happy/unhappy path

When users walk through a product’s user path, they can take the happy or unhappy path, depending on the outcome of a user’s journey. Users do not always take the happy path, and if they don’t, then your design perhaps needs revisiting.

How I’d imagine a user to look on the happy path using a well-designed product!

Examples of a happy path may be: πŸ§˜πŸΎβ€β™‚οΈ

πŸ’­ The user creates a new account: This is an example of a happy path scenario, where a user is able to create a new account successfully and without any issues.

πŸ’­ The user signs in with their new credentials: Another example of a happy path scenario, where a user is able to sign in using their newly created account credentials.

πŸ’­ The user retrieves information about their account: This is an example of a happy path scenario where a user is able to retrieve information about their account without any issues.

I’d imagine a cat looking like this if he is experiencing using a badly-designed product.

Examples of an unhappy path may be: 🀬

πŸ’­ The user creates a new account without providing all required inputs: This is an example of an unhappy path scenario, where a user is not able to create a new account due to missing required information.

πŸ’­The user signs in with invalid credentials: Another example of an unhappy path scenario, where a user cannot sign in to their account due to entering incorrect login credentials.

πŸ’­ The user saves a filename with the wrong characters required for a could stored document.

4. Wireflows

Wireframes and flowcharts are essential tools in the User Experience (UX) design process, used by professionals to communicate their design concepts to stakeholders. Wireframes help visually showcase page-level layouts, clearly understanding how the content will be arranged on each page. On the other hand, flowcharts are particularly useful for documenting complex workflows and user tasks, outlining the steps a user will take to accomplish a specific goal.

However, these traditional deliverables can fall short when designing mobile, desktop, or web applications with a limited number of core pages that change dynamically based on user interaction. This can make it challenging to communicate the design and user experience in these situations effectively.

To address these limitations, a new solution called wire flow has emerged in the UX industry. Wireflow provides a more comprehensive approach to illustrating designs by showing the user experience in the context of common tasks. This innovative deliverable offers a more effective way of visualizing the dynamic nature of user interaction, making it easier for designers and stakeholders to understand how the application will work in real-life scenarios.

A wireflow is a valuable addition to the UX design toolkit and offers a more comprehensive approach to documenting designs for dynamic applications.

Main points on Wireflows..

βœ… Wireframes and flowcharts are commonly used in UX industry for design communication

βœ… Wireframes depict page-level layout ideas

βœ… Flowcharts document complex workflows and user tasks

βœ… Wireframes and flowcharts are limited for designs with dynamic content and layout based on user interaction

βœ… Wireflows have emerged as an alternative solution for illustrating designs in the context of common user tasks.

5. Competitor analysis

I looked at three competitors in the online giving space and came up with the below results; the importance of gaining competitor analysis was that now I had my user research I wanted to see what products potentially met the needs of these users currently.

“Competitive analysis is an essential part of the UX design process because it allows designers to understand the current state of the market and identify areas of opportunity. By analyzing their competitors’ products and services, designers can identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as gaps in the market that they can fill with their own product or service. This analysis can help designers create products that are user-centered and meet the needs and expectations of their target audience.” Roto, V., Law, E., Vermeeren, A., & Hoonhout, J. (2011)

Go Fund Me: GoFundMe is a popular online platform that allows individuals to create fundraising campaigns for a variety of causes, including charity donations. Campaigns can be created for personal causes, such as medical expenses or education costs, as well as for charitable organizations and non-profits.

The Go Fund Me website
The Just Giving website

Just Giving: JustGiving is an online charity platform that connects donors with over 25,788 nonprofits. Donors can search for organisations based on their causes of interest and make secure donations directly through the JustGiving website.

Network for Good: Network for Good is a philanthropic platform that helps individuals and organisations support causes they care about. The platform offers various tools, including online donation processing, charity search and evaluation, and fundraising support. Network for Good also provides resources and guidance to help individuals and organisations maximize their impact through charitable giving.

The Network For Good wesbite

I used the five whys method to get to why users may want to use each of the competitors products:

Go Fund Me: Why 1: Users choose GoFundMe because it’s easy to create and share fundraising campaigns. Why 2: Users create their own campaigns to reach more people and get more support. Why 3: The platform’s ease of use encourages users to use it and get support. Why 4: Secure donation processing boosts trust in the platform and the donation process. Why 5: Trust is important because users want to be sure their donation will reach its intended purpose and that their information is protected.

Just Giving: Why 1: Users choose JustGiving because it has a directory of over 25,788 nonprofits. Why 2: The directory makes it easy to research and choose nonprofits. Why 3: Secure donation processing boosts trust in the platform and the donation process. Why 4: Users want to feel confident their donation will reach its intended purpose and that their information is protected. Why 5: The platform provides information and guidance on giving, helping users maximize their impact.

Network for Good: Why 1: Users choose Network for Good because it has a range of tools and resources for supporting causes. Why 2: The tools and resources make it easier to find and support organisations and causes. Why 3: The platform provides information and guidance on giving, helping users maximize their impact. Why 4: Secure donation processing boosts trust in the platform and the donation process.Β Why 5: Why do users need to have trust in the platform and the donation process? Answer: They need to feel confident that their donation will be used for the intended purpose and that their personal information will be protected.

5.1 Feature analysis

I undertook a basic features analysis of the competitor’s offerings; this gave me a visual reference to quickly assess areas where I could design a unique selling point for the UX prototype.


UX Element

JustGiving
GoFundMe

Network for Good

Auction Features
πŸš«βœ…βœ…
Blog
βœ…πŸš«πŸš«
Social Networking Links
βœ…βœ…βœ…
Event Management Features
🚫🚫🚫
Mobile App
βœ…βœ…πŸš«
API Availability
βœ…πŸš«βœ…
Feature analysis of the competitor’s site features

Conclusion

Investing in user research and getting to know your users at a deeper level can help you use psychology in design to influence their behaviour in your favour, ultimately creating a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Understanding what you aim to achieve by using each user research tool is as important as just saying you can use them in your design process. Self-reflection is a powerful way to take stock of what you are doing when you start to use methods such as creating user personas, wireframes and user flows. And making sure that you can assess that you are using them correctly and not just thinking that you are moving in a forward motion with skewed results in order to get to a working prototype.

References

Norman, D. A., & Draper, S. W. (1986). User Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction. CRC Press.

Roto, V., Law, E., Vermeeren, A., & Hoonhout, J. (2011). User experience white paper: Bringing clarity to the concept of user experience. The Hague: UXQB.