User Narratives

User narratives have become a popular tool for experience design because they illustrate the relationship between users and products. To capture insights about my potential users, I developed personas, or fictional characters, based on first-hand knowledge of my target audience. I considered details like demographics and lifestyle as I worked through the problems that these personas might want to solve. To spark the process, I started with a simple template: As a (persona) I want to (some goal) so that (some reason). Here are a couple of examples —

As a broke college student, I want to save money on my textbooks so that I can still afford to go out and have a little fun. A student down the hall has the textbook I need, but the book store will only buy it back for twenty bucks. She’s also in the market for a better deal. Lucky for her, I have something she wants, too! I’m investing in a new mini-fridge and my old one needs a home…

Next week I’m hosting a cocktail party for my work colleagues. As someone with little cooking experience, but the deep need to impress, I could use help whipping up tasty little snacks. Dan lives three floors down and he makes mean deviled eggs. I know he’s been dying to see Paddington 2 and I have movie pass

User narratives are powerful because they’re compelling and accessible. People tend to connect to facts embedded within stories more easily. Moreover, these narratives are invaluable when it comes to fast-paced development. Although these narratives aren’t technical in nature, they’re an integral part of the design process.

User Interviews

I’ve been devoting a lot of thought to my idea. After tons of brainstorming, I’m convinced that it will fill an important gap in the industry. At this point, I’m emotionally invested and eager to validate my concepts and designs. But at the end of the day, what matters most is how users respond to my product. Seeing that I may be falling victim to tunnel vision, user interviews are especially essential.

“You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people” Dieter Rams

Even before a product is launched, there is a wealth of information to be collected. Receiving feedback on something you’ve already created might limit the scope of improvement you can make. By asking questions before the final product, you can examine industry topics and pain points that people really care about. This ideation phase should be well structured and unbiased. Successful user interviews make interviewees feel comfortable and willing to share their experiences openly and honestly. As an interviewer, I want to help my interviewees relax and guide the conversation without implanting ideas. This part is hard! I found myself reframing questions to gather more authentic responses. Giving people the space to share unfiltered opinions will strengthen my product’s development down the line. I started by asking myself three simple questions: Who is my target audience? What do I need to know about my users? How will this knowledge improve my product?

I hit the streets and surveyed the scene, keeping an eye out for people with that student vibe. In truth, these interviews were not particularly fruitful. Wrong place, wrong time. I plan on getting out there again, but in the interim I worked on a new approach. Google Forms to the rescue! A simple survey can reach all of my classmates in minutes. I formulated open-ended questions like, “tell me about a time that you bartered. Who, what, when, where, why ?”- and slacked them out to my social and academic circles. As responses roll in, I’m already beginning to iterate in my head.

I’ll explore more personas and thoroughly discuss my user interview findings in a separate post. Stay Tuned!

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