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Building Contextual Personas through Scenario Planning (PCTO 2016)

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Personas are an integral part of the User Experience (UX) design process. They provide insights on who our users are, their habits, and the goals relative to the product being built.

Although they put a face and a story to multiple users, traditional personas have yet to take the leap from being behaviourally-driven artifacts to one that is sensitive to a product/service's business context/futures as well.

If successful products are the result of a product and market “fit”, can we build personas that deliver both behavioural and business insight? Can strategic foresight methods help? If so, how?

Presented at PodCamp Toronto 2016 (February 20, 2016).

Published in: Design
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Building Contextual Personas through Scenario Planning (PCTO 2016)

  1. 1. Jesse Emmanuel Rosario @jemrosario Building Contextual PersonasThrough Scenario Planning
  2. 2. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  User Experience Specialist, Analy3cal Engine Interac3ve, Inc. (Toronto, ON) About Me @jemrosario #PCTO16
  3. 3. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 F A C T: Personas are great!
  4. 4. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 From Freepik (http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/variety-of-human-avatars_766615.htm) user research Ellen •  45 years old •  Mother of two •  Proud tech adopter •  Pays for her coffee exclusively from her mobile device
  5. 5. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 A Sample Persona (courtesy Nielsen Norman Group)
  6. 6. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #PersonaProblems •  “Too good to be true” syndrome: Clients/stakeholders quibbling about the details (and veracity) of the persona. •  Personas are either so fake (i.e. based on assump3ons or zero user research) or spiked with the wrong data.
  7. 7. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 This is great! So exciting! This app will be the app to end all apps! Acme, Inc. can kiss my hands!
  8. 8. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Four weeks and a persona later… “That’s my target user?” “Amazing Amy really does this?” “Fastidious Frank sounds like a pain!” “I don’t want Meandering Millie near my cool app…. she’ll break it!” “Cool story, bro. Still feels fake to me!”
  9. 9. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 The typical Canadian family! Joe Oliver, PC Former Finance Minister “'Henry and Cathy,' with 'two active kids' are one of the typical Canadian families featured in the Conservative government's messaging around the 2015 federal budget, also known as the Economic Action Plan. (budget.gc.ca)” – CBC News
  10. 10. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 From CBC News (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/typical-family-in-federal-budget-not-so-typical-critics-1.3051011)
  11. 11. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 "If you look at the typical Canadian, the typical family that a Canadian lives in, then $120,000 — that puts you in the upper 15 per cent of Canadian families," says Miles Corak, an economist at the University of OXawa. "The Conserva3ves' imaginary 'typical family' doesn't reflect the reality of Canadian families: they make almost twice as much as the real average Canadian family," - former NDP Finance Cri3c Nathan Cullen.
  12. 12. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 “Are you for real? As in really, real ‘REAL’?!?”! a.k.a. the Credibility QuesGon directed towards tradi3onal personas
  13. 13. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 P R O B L E M Traditional personas lack the product context needed to build digital products that users want and generate business. How do we solve this?
  14. 14. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 SCENARIO PLANNING A strategic foresighting tool
  15. 15. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 STRATEGIC FORESIGHT “A systematic approach to gathering intelligence about possible futures and building shared visions, aimed at guiding and enabling present-day decisions” - GregVan Alstyne Co-Founding Director, Strategic Innovation Lab OCAD University
  16. 16. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 CRITICAL UNCERTAINTY “Drivers of change with high potential impact, which, at the same time are very difficult to call” – 2020 Media Futures Report OCAD University Strategic Innovation Lab
  17. 17. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Let’s take scenario planning for a spin! (a.k.a. Let’s build your first contextual persona)
  18. 18. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Try it! ! You are a newly hiredVP Digital at Canadian Tire and have been tasked to refresh the company’s digital channels for a millennial crowd.
  19. 19. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 “Millennials cool to older brands” Metro News (February 16, 2016) “Old-stock companies aren’t winning the favour of the ‘Net<lix and chill’ generation, according to an Ipsos-Institute of Communication Agencies survey of the most in<luential brands in Canada in 2015. […] Millennials were also much less likely to hold Canadian Tire in high esteem. The company founded in 1922 by the Billes brothers in Toronto was the seventh-most in,luential among boomers, but a distant 51st among millennials.”
  20. 20. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  What’s a cri3cal uncertainty again? Find your Critical Uncertainties What is the most hard- hitting/crucial factor facing the business that could impact their future? What is the most uncertain/ volatile factor facing the business?
  21. 21. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  What’s a cri3cal uncertainty again (WRT contextual personas)? Find your Critical Uncertainties What is the most hard- hitting/crucial factor about your users that could affect the product/ service’s creation? What is the most uncertain/ volatile factor surrounding your users?
  22. 22. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  How do we do that? – User research (user interviews, primary and secondary research, analy3cs research, surveys, ethnography, contextual inquiry, etc.) – Synthesize the raw data •  Affinity mapping •  The Five Whys (a.k.a. root cause analysis) Find your Critical Uncertainties
  23. 23. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Don’t be that guy (or girl)!
  24. 24. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  Iden3fy the criGcal and the uncertain. Find your Critical Uncertainties CRITICAL: Brand perception (e.g. “How is the Canadian Tire brand perceived among millennials?”) UNCERTAIN: Engagement with brands over digital media (i.e. social media, etc.)
  25. 25. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 HIGH REGARD LOW REGARD DISENGAGED (e.g. apathetic) HIGHLY ENGAGED (e.g. outspoken) CRITICAL: Brand perception (e.g. “How is the Canadian Tire brand perceived among millennials?” UNCERTAIN: Engagement with brands over digital media (i.e. social media, etc.) The Silent Fan The Spokes- person The Pessi- mist The Loud CriGc
  26. 26. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 HIGH REGARD LOW REGARD DISENGAGED (e.g. apathetic) HIGHLY ENGAGED (e.g. outspoken) The Silent Fan The Spokes- person The Pessi- mist The Loud CriGc RESULT: User types •  Personas •  User Story Mapping •  Customer Journey Maps, etc.
  27. 27. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Some common quesGons, concerns, objecGons, etc. (a.k.a. YA RLY…)
  28. 28. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #SameOldLove “How are contextual personas any different from traditional persona development?”! ! •  Principal benefit: Contextual personas situate your product alongside your business’ and your users’ context before delivering the first line of code (or beyond). –  Provide hints on your users’ possible rela3onship with your product/ service, which is key during the Discovery phase. –  Delivers the best of both worlds: Behavioural Insight + Product Context (through cri3cal uncertain3es).
  29. 29. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  CASE STUDY: The Canadian Jewish News Contextual Personas •  Answered: –  Who are our users? –  What kind of content maXers to them? –  What type of rela3onship could they have with the product being built. #SameOldLove “Foot in both worlds” “The Ac3vist” “The Downtown Jew” “Holis3cally Jewish” Younger, Proac3ve Older, Reac3ve Less Religious Highly Religious
  30. 30. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 Critical vs. Uncertain “ ‘Critical’ and ‘Uncertain’ aren’t so clear cut. ! A critical factor may just be as uncertain as the other. How do you solve this?”! ! •  In theory, criGcal and uncertain factors may seem dis3nct. In reality, they’re omen close and so related.
  31. 31. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  Keep calm and open your mind. •  Identify more critical uncertainties, and then pair them. •  It’s okay to miss it. Some pairings may not make sense; try again. •  PRO TIP: Involve your client! The Design Squiggle (by Daniel Newman)
  32. 32. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #StupidUsers Why bother? Users are stupid… Life’s too short to cater to a dimwit, anyway...
  33. 33. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #StupidUsers Ask yourself, “What if you launch your product and nobody buys it?” – ScoX Hurff, Designing Products People Love (O’Reilly, 2015)
  34. 34. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #StupidUsers Ego-First Development: “The core problem with so many businesses is that they’re based on what the business owner wants… They’re fantasizing about being the hero: ‘I’m going to ride in on my white ‘somware’ horse, and save these poor people” – Amy Hoy, “Why It’s Not About You” Episode 52, Product People podcast
  35. 35. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 #StupidUsers “Concoc3ng a product idea is really an act of listening. And without knowing who you’re serving and what they need, building product is simply another form of op3mis3c specula3on.” – ScoX Hurff, Designing Products People Love (O’Reilly, 2015)
  36. 36. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 •  Contextual Personas = Behavioural Insights + Product Context. •  Glimpses poten3al usage scenarios given user goals, mo3va3ons, and product context. •  Driven by user research, this 3me with a view towards the cri3cal and the uncertain. •  Covers much more ground cri3cal to achieving problem-solu3on fit. •  Funnels nicely into agile user stories, user story mapping, customer journey maps, etc. In Conclusion
  37. 37. PodCampToronto 2016 | February 20-21, 2016 R E M E M B E R “Life’s too short ! to build something nobody wants”. ! Build “what’s worth doing” ! so you can deliver digital products that your users love.! ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Ash Maurya (author, Running Lean), Joe Natoli (author, Think First), and Scott Hurff (author, Designing Products People Love) for the quotable quotes!
  38. 38. Jesse Emmanuel Rosario @jemrosario Building Contextual PersonasThrough Scenario Planning Thank you! :-)

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