Getting to Know Your End Users

personasHow well does your development team know their end users?

  • How users interact with your product or services
  • Their technical comfort level
  • Their motivations, needs, attitudes and goals
  • What they might typically say, think or do.
  • What makes them tick…

If the dev-team does not have a strong sense of empathy and rapport with your end users, have you considered building it, not only with user stories, but with user personas as well?

Why use personas?

Personas help put your dev team in the customer’s shoes. Having that kind of understanding allows a gut check during many parts of the development processes – from concepting, to prototyping, to building, testing, writing knowledge base articles, and providing customer support. Personas provide insights into who the audience is, what their expectations and behaviors are likely to be, and help craft an effective user experience. And personas are a great proxy if your dev team can’t go and observe end users easily and directly.

Life-Size-personas-o-Ivar1Pull up an extra chair…

Once you’ve developed your user personas, take a leap of imagination and pull up an extra chair. Invite them to your whiteboard sessions, your agile inception planning, and your demos. Let them be a constant reminder of why the team is building what they are building and how it will ultimately be judged.

Watts, Geoff. Product Mastery: From Good to Great Product Ownership (p. 207). Inspect & Adapt Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Have them “share their insights” and answer the following questions:

Are you building the right features?

  • What are their goals? How will what you build help them reach those goals?
  • What are their expectation, demands, and needs?
  • How will what you deliver eliminate the pains they are facing?
  • How would they interact with your product or perform a certain task?
  • What are they going to look for in a feature?

Where do you sit in comparison with your competition?

  • Is your customers’ experience of what you offer better than the alternatives?
  • Do you deliver on your brand promise in their eyes?

Get to know your customers thru personas – how each user type differs

Once you know them, you’ll know how to build something that will light their fire…

Going negative

Geoff Watts offers a powerful suggestion:

Think of some negative or exclusionary personas. These are people who definitely are not the intended audience for the product. For example, a computer hacker is a negative persona for a software product. Other negative personas include someone who doesn’t have the disposable income required to buy the product or perhaps someone who will never buy the product because of brand loyalty to a competitor. Defining negative personas can help ensure you avoid waste (money marketing to the wrong people or allowing the wrong audience’s design considerations to enter into the product development effort.) It can also help block any malicious actions.

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