Capturing user needs in personas and stories
It’s far easier to design a system and build it if you can visualise the people who will use it. It’s also essential that what we build fully addresses the needs of your customers – including the ones you want but don’t yet have.
The personas and user stories that we create at this stage not only influence what we build but also help us prioritise the work we do.
To do this, we create a range of personas, each of whom incorporates aspects of your target audience. Everything we design and build must then align with one or more of those personas.
(This concept is nicely encapsulated in the Government’s digital Service Manual on a page called ‘Learning about users and their needs’. There’s a lot of good stuff in the Service Manual – anyone designing user-centred software should read it.)
Personas are so important that we even encourage clients to decorate their offices with lists showing the personas and their needs! That’s not to say that personas are static, however. Instead, as we do more research, and even as we develop applications and they go live, we continually revisit these personas and tweak them if the evidence indicates that we should.
Given that staff are likely to be among your stakeholders, we may also create personas for them, allied to your organisational goals.
Once everyone knows who your personas are, we create their stories. These are definitions, in simple terms, of what we need to do for them.
Among the ways we do this – in an ideal world and depending on your budget – are running workshops and conducting interviews. Through these, we aim to capture as many interactions as possible with customers and prospects. As an added bonus, the outcomes of this process show your teams the impact that they and other teams have on how you serve customers.
As more information about our personas comes to light during the user story creation process, we’ll enrich them to make sure they are accurate.