Category: Understanding Users

Following their motivations and knowing where instinct and empathy can get you.

A picture is worth a thousand questions

Choosing the right photos, especially those photos that are meant represent your users themselves, can be powerful tools in a user-centered approach to design. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the questions they raise.

Become your own user

A popular concept in understanding your product experience is “eating your own dogfood” (or “drinking your own champagne,” or any number of other food-or-drink metaphors). But are you really using it the way your users will?

Personas with personality

Personas are stand-ins for real people – abstractions that can be as specific or general as you need them to be. That kind of abstraction may seem unnecessary, but I’ve have come to realize that they are extremely useful for a particular type of project.

Follow the money

How do you learn about the people you’re designing for? You may be overlooking teams that are just as invested as you are in understanding your users–those who sell and train users about your product.

Stories make it stick

Everyone loves a good story. While you may not remember all of the details of a story, you’ll remember enough of the setup and the emotion to recall it at a moment’s notice. Use that same stickiness as a way to keep other points of view in mind.

Play off of supporting characters

Think about the lead characters in a story. They don’t go it alone, and neither do your users. In any story there are always other characters that support or challenge them.

Reasons to march forth

I can’t stand seeing designers hit walls. The nature of designing is creating a reality from the kernel of an idea…but a vision isn’t enough. This is my attempt to explain the techniques that I have seen work.