And what next? A case study in how to get the most out of your user research


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In this insightful case study Neil Turner, UX lead at TUI (Europe’s largest tour operator) will take a look at some of the ways that the TUI UX team distil, utilise and communicate user research findings to ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, and that throughout the design process they’re always designing with their target audience in mind.

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  • UX lead at TUI UK & IrelandPart of TUI – Europe’s largest tour operatorAnd one of the world's leading leisure travel companies operating in over 180 countries with more than 30 million customersHave a lot of different brands within the UK
  • Primarily work on the Thomson & First Choice website – two of the biggest travel sites in the UK
  • You’ve done the detective work to find out more about your customers e.g.Interviewed customersCarried out surveysConducted diary studyLooked at analytics and usage statsLooked at general market research dataSpoken to customer facing parts of the organisation
  • And now you’re no doubt drowning in data
  • Write a big fat research report – or let the user researchers write one
  • As anyone that’s had to write one will know, research reports are typically painful to write, and even more painful to read
  • If you can persuade people to actually read it, it’s only likely to get lost in translation anywayPeople will take out of a report what they want to take out of itI apologise for the lack of thought that’s gone in to this slide – I promise it gets better from now on!
  • Somewhat ironic slide! – Death by PowerPoint not ideal asQuickly gets forgottenDoesn’t really support the on-going UX designRequires colleagues to attend a presentationCan be difficult with when an organisation is based all over the place
  • There must be a better way!
  • Take a step back and consider what you’re trying to do here…
  • Within all organisations if you ask who your users and your target audience is, you’ll invariably get lots of different answersWhat you want is to bring this out in to the open and to ultimately get everyone signing from the same hymn sheetYou want to build a shared understanding of who your users are and of your target audience
  • Of course more importantly you want to design great experiences for your usersThe question is, given what you’ve found out, how can you best achieve this?
  • This is where I rip open my shirt to reveal…
  • Hands up who remembers Challenge Anneka?For those that don’t remember the early 90s Anneka Rice used to ride around in a big lorry and dune buggy and be given a challenge, such as renovating a building with a ridiculously small time frame to do it – hard to wonder why the show isn’t still around!I remember one episode when she had to repaint Happisburgh lighthouse in Norfolk – near where I grew up, only for it to be repainted a few years later because they’d done such a bad job!
  • Its important that the user research lays the foundations for a solid UX design because we all know what happens when you build on shoddy foundationsIt does make for some great photo opportunities though…
  • We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words
  • So utilise the power of InfographicsThis is something that we’re starting to use at TUIThis shows some information about different TUI customer market segmentsReally good for creating information that people can easily digest and useCould stick infographics up around the office
  • If a picture is worth a thousand words a good story is surely worth a million
  • You see nothing tells a story like a good storyIt’s the oldest way of passing down informationWe’re hard wired to respond to stories – it’s a very natural way to communicate and take in informationBy the way – I love the fact that this kid seems to have had his Maths homework shaved into his hair!
  • I’ll show you how powerful a little story can be with an example from Google
  • As we all know, every story needs characters
  • For your characters you should be using your personasHopefullly everyone here knows what personas are – they’re basically fictional characters based on factSo please don’t go basing your personas on soap opera charactersI’m not going to talk too much about personas as it’s a massive topic in its own right but I will talk a little bit about how we use personas at TUI
  • At TUI we’ve been undertaking a substantial redesign of both the Thomson and First Choice websitesEven though both websites are used by millions of people from all over the UK, we’ve primarily used two personasHelen – a price conscious Mum of 2, and Deborah – a more adventurous and experience driven travellerWe’ve used only 2 personas because this means that everyone only has two personas to remember, to buy into and to considerTo some extent Helen and Deborah are different ends of the spectrum, and this is consciously so
  • The key when it comes to your users and subsequently your personas is behavioural differencesYou might have two users that are quite different demographically, but if their behaviours are very similar it doesn’t make sense to have separate personasWe decided that when it came to the behaviours that we had identified of our customers, we could cover these with two primary personas – Helen & DeborahOf course we have some secondary personas but to be honest these are little used
  • Having identified the key behavioural differences we’ve found it useful to define where we expect our users to fall on a behavioural scale – so that we can better define who we’re designing forFor example, how much assistance will that user require?We’ve made a conscious decision to push users that require a lot of hand holding to the retail shops or call centre
  • Can be useful to have personas towards the ends of the spectrum when it comes to your user behavioursE.g. Helen isn’t much of an explorer – likely to stay at the hotel whilst Deborah will be out and aboutHelen is a real deal finder, whilst Deborah is more concerned with her holiday experienceDeborah is an advice seeker, whilst Helen likes to do all the research herselfIf you can accommodate users like Helen & Deborah that are towards the ends of your user behaviours, you should be able to accommodate all those inbetween
  • We’ll also keep personas to a minimum by reusing them wherever possibleOf course only reuse a persona if they fit the sort of user profile you need to consider, but you don’t want to create a whole new bunch of personas for each new design
  • So you’ve got your characters, now of course you need your storyline
  • At TUI we use personas for our characters and user journey maps, sometimes call experience maps as our storylinesThese outline an end to end experience from a customer’s perspectiveThis is an example from Adaptive Path for Rail EuropeRail Europe sell passes and tickets for European rail travel and this map shows the current customer experience for planning, booking, travelling and then post travel for European rail travel
  • There is no set format for a customer experience map – it’s up to you reallyYou basically take one of your personas and a goal of theirs, such as taking the train in EuropeThen for each stage of the customer’s journey you ask some questions, such as:What does she do?How does she do it?What is her experience like?What challenges does she face?How can we improve things for her?We like to work through the experience map as a team, but you might equally create a customer experience map as a starting point, to then go through with the teamYou’ll often be initially looking at the current process, and then might create new customer experience maps for how the customer journey might be designed
  • The best thing about customer experience maps is that they show the customer’s perspectiveSo often organisations only look at things from a channel, or operations perspective – this is something handled by the website, this is something handled by the call centreCustomer experience maps show the different channels used by customers and outline how customers might switch between different touchpoints
  • Customer experience maps are also great for highlighting problems and issues that customers currently experience
  • But most importantly they can help identify opportunities to make things better… both from a service delivery and UX perspective
  • Customer experience maps are often quite high level – looking at an end to end customer journeyThis is great for bigger picture stuff but sometimes it’s useful to drill into some of the detail so that people in the organisation can see how customers are attempting to undertake a specific task, such as actually booking a Europe rail ticketThis is where scenarios come in…Again hopefully scenarios are familiar with most people – they outline how a user goes about a specific taskThere are a number of ways to communicating stories in the form of scenarios:
  • A scenario map is a bit like task analysis – we have used them on a few projects within TUIA map will show the steps that a customer will take to complete a task, with different colours used for steps, comments and details, questions (to be investigated) and ideasYou could ask customers to map out how they undertake a particular scenario, or create a map based on the user researchIf you google ‘Scenario maps’ you should find some articles about the method
  • You could also use storyboards – something we’ve used a little bit on TUIThese graphically show the steps that a customer goes through, either at the present, or how we’d like them toThey are great for communicating the customers story but can obviously be a little time consuming to create
  • Finally you can let the words do the talking and outline a scenario in the form of a narrativeThis can be a mini-story, although I find it easier to use a table format with the steps, comments, outstanding questions and ideas or required functionality outlinedNarrative scenarios are relatively easy to create but perhaps require a bit more effort (not to mention imagination) from the readerUltimately the way that you choose to communicate your customer’s stories will depend on all sorts of things, such as the time, resources and audienceYou might even use different ways to communicate depending on the audience – but more of that later
  • So you’ve carried out your user research, got some great insights and material to share, but how do you get the word out?
  • The first thing to realise is that people won’t generally come to you seeking this stuff out (some might, but most won’t)So you have to get up from behind your desk and make people aware of who your target audience and your users areTo build up that shared understandingThere are a number of ways that we’ve found effective at TUI for doing this
  • A very basic thing is to stuck stuff up in the officeAt TUI we have a white board wall which is always full of sketches, personas and other UXy stuffFor example, you might stick some persona posters or user infographics up in the canteen, or other high footfall areas
  • Something else that we’ve found works well is to hold showcases every quarter or soGet a room, stick a load of stuff up and then invite people to take a lookIt’s a great way of getting people from around the organisation more involved
  • It’s also good to be creativeFor example, you could create persona playing cards that people can take into meetings and use
  • You could create a fictional blog from one or more of your personasNot something we’ve tried out in TUI yetHere’s the queen’s very own blog
  • You could ask people to role play a situation or scenario as one of the personasGood for getting people to step in to their shoes
  • Something that we’ve certainly discovered is that its good to provide differing levels of detailsDetail for those that want it and key points for those that don’tThis is a persona that I created at a previous job – one is very high level, the other shows a lot more detail, including detailed background and a day in the life
  • It’s also important to make it easy for people within the organisation to find information about users and the target audienceUsually this sort of information is scattered all over the place – certainly it is at TUI
  • So it’s a good idea to put all this stuff in one placeCould be on the Intranet or even a Wiki site is a good idea – this is something that we’re looking into at TUIImportant to have one person (or persons) to be responsible for the knowledgebase – for organising and managing the knowledgebase
  • This should all an on going thing – it’s most certainly not a one offMust continually research your users, translate into actionable and usable findings and utilise these for your designYou can then validate your design against your users and continue…
  • Because your users change and their behaviour certainly changesYou only have to look at the changing way in which people access websites and online services, such mobiles, tablets and computers
  • Of course it’s also important to continue to evangelise and drive home the message about this stuffIt’s also a good idea to have a process in place for getting new people up to speed, something we’re looking to put into place in the TUI UX team
  • If you want to find out more about this stuff there is of course loads of stuff available onlineYou should also checkout these two excellent books
  • And what next? A case study in how to get the most out of your user research

    1. 1. And what next? Neil Turner June 2013
    2. 2. UX lead at TUI UK & Ireland
    3. 3. Mostly working on the Thomson & First Choice websites
    4. 4. So you’ve done the detective work…
    5. 5. And have loads of data
    6. 6. What next?
    7. 7. Write a report?
    8. 8. No please, go on… I find your report enthralling…
    9. 9. It’ll only get lost in translation anyway…
    10. 10. Death by PowerPoint?
    11. 11. There must be a better way!
    12. 12. What are you trying to do?
    13. 13. Build a shared understanding
    14. 14. Design great experiences for your users
    15. 15. UX design to the rescue
    16. 16. Colleagues = Users
    17. 17. Challenge = 1. Establish a shared understanding of your target audience 2. Lay the foundations for a great UX design
    18. 18. Because we all know what happens when you build on shoddy foundations!
    19. 19. A picture is worth 1000 words
    20. 20. So use infographics!
    21. 21. A good story is worth 1,000,000 words
    22. 22. Nothing tells a story, like a story!
    23. 23. A little story from View video
    24. 24. All stories need characters
    25. 25. Characters = Personas
    26. 26. The fewer the better
    27. 27. Key is behavioural differences
    28. 28. Who are you designing for? To here (Hand holding) From here How comfortable will your users be online?How much assistance will your users need? LotsLittle (Do it all myself)
    29. 29. Ends of the spectrum
    30. 30. Reuse personas where possible (Don’t reinvent the wheel)
    31. 31. All stories need a storyline
    32. 32. Stories = User journeys
    33. 33. What does she do? How does she do it? What is her experience like? What challenges does she face? How can we improve things for her? At each stage of the user’s journey…
    34. 34. Shows customer’s perspective
    35. 35. Shares their pain…
    36. 36. And identifies opportunities to make things better
    37. 37. Drill into the detail with scenarios
    38. 38. Scenario maps
    39. 39. Storyboards
    40. 40. Narratives
    41. 41. Spreading the word
    42. 42. Make people aware of it
    43. 43. Stick stuff up
    44. 44. Showcase stuff
    45. 45. Be creative
    46. 46. Persona blog
    47. 47. Roleplaying
    48. 48. Provide detail for those that want it
    49. 49. Make this stuff easy to find…
    50. 50. By putting everything in one place
    51. 51. An on-going activity… Research Translate Design
    52. 52. Remember that behaviours change…
    53. 53. Continue to spread the word
    54. 54. Want to find out more?