Personas help you specify the context of use by identifying the people who will use your solution, what they will use it for, and under what conditions they will use it. They help you to create a point of view that is based on your target audiences’ needs and insights so you can see your organizations through their eyes.
The first step in this is to Empathize. Learn about the audience for whom you are designing your solution by observing them interacting with their current solution or most similar activity and ask them what they are thinking. Ask them to “think out loud” – to share every thought that they are thinking around their decision making process. Ask them what they like, dislike, what frustrates them and what delights them. For much of this you can observe their facial cues – a grimace or a smile communicates so much more than words.
If what you are designing is completely new and there is nothing like it today, then ask your participants to imagine what a possible solution could be. Remember, this isn’t an exercise to define the solution but to better understand your audience for the solution. Who are they? What matters to them?
Develop Journey Maps to illustrate all the ways your audience interacts with your solution. This could include your social media presence, website, people in organization that they interact with, your process and procedures that they have to follow and any technology they need to understand to achieve their goals. Take special note of the key interaction points – touch points – and what they like, dislike, frustrates them or delights them. Getting these touch points right is the key for you to create experiences that attract, retain, and create loyalty and advocacy for your solutions and overall brand.
Create measures and metrics at these touch points to measure your progress. Your measures may be around attainment – commitment to your solution – or retention – a longer commitment – or advocacy – where they are sharing with others what a great experience (or not) they are having with you.
Once you start measuring your touch points, you will identify opportunities to make your solution even better. Understanding your personas at these touch points in their journey is the key.
Once you understand your target audience and how they interact with your solution then it is time to think through the all the things that happen “behind the scenes” that your customers don’t see that you do to make it all possible. Map these, too, just like you did with your journey maps so you have the full context of the experiences you are creating.
Ideation to Innovation
You will have a much richer context of possibilities with your personas, journey maps and service blueprint driving your ideation. Brainstorm and come up with as many creative solutions as possible. You may rethink the entire journey or just a touch point. You may come up with an entirely new solution and opportunity. Always be mindful of your personas likes, dislikes, frustrations and delights to guide your thinking. Wild ideas are always encouraged! This is where “thinking outside the box” takes place. In the end, specify your solutions’ requirements – your business and persona goals that must be met for your solution to be successful.
Prototype and Test
Build a representation of one or more of your ideas to show to others. Remember: A prototype is just a rough draft! Develop flow diagrams, wireframes, build models – whatever it takes to express your ideas for iterative reviews with your target audience.
Share your prototyped idea with your original target audience for feedback. What worked? What didn’t? Evaluate the design through usability testing with your target persona to ensure that the tasks are effective, efficient, and satisfying.
Create Design Specifications and work with Solution builders
Develop specifications of the experience elements and the audience’s interaction and work with Engineering to review the implementation to ensure the experience specifications are understood and met. You don’t want to make this much investment in understanding your audience and not execute correctly.
This process never fails… but organizations sometimes fail in following this process.