Note: Because most of my recent client work is under NDA, I have posted this personal project to showcase my design process for potential clients. This is very similar to the process I use for generating personas for my clients, with key differences noted under "Problems" and "Solutions" below.
* My UX consultancy's existing website is at AmusementUX.com and only does well at showcasing my work in the amusement industry.
* Due to a slow period in getting amusement-industry work and projects available in other industries which have been a better fit for my skills, most of my recent work has been in other industries.
* A site for the amusement industry does not give me a place to share UX-related work or writing related to my side projects - or my photography work, which is a strong personal interest.
* Off-the-shelf personal websites and portfolio sites (such as this one) miss an opportunity for me to showcase my whole process in designing a truly unique site.
* Developing a solution for these other problems has to a) have enough user research data to be meaningful and b) not be on a deadline because it is lower-priority than paid client work.
* Doing direct user interviews with personal friends and professional connections does not solve a) or b) above. It gives me insufficient research data biased toward people who have time and willingness to participate, which may not be what my consultancy ultimately needs. It also makes them think that this is a higher-priority project than it is and that it will be finished soon.
* I am working on a personal website (launch date TBD), which will showcase UX-related content for various audiences and my photography work.
* I am designing this using my full user-centered design process, which uses a process for persona generation based on that of Cooper.
* Because I already know the people in my personal and professional network, in some cases for many years, I chose to go ahead and map them to behavioral variables that would be relevant to their use of this site.
* I enhanced this data by coming up with my best estimates of the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality types of everyone in my Facebook and LinkedIn networks - about 500 people. I was able to provide a full estimate for about 200 (appropriate if you know about Dunbar's number), and they became my data set going forward.
* Using the rest of Cooper's persona generation process, I kept 9 of my persona ideas and was able to determine primary, secondary, and negative personas for the site.
After determining each persona's category, I reordered them in the spreadsheet.
Their categories were as follows:
1. Tom Sharp, an executive or small business owner: He would ultimately have to see how what I want to do as a UX consultant can help him get a good ROI in his business.
2. Jerome Hill, a personal friend interested in both my work and professional networking: He might not do my type of work for a living, but he has connections and might know people who should work with me.
1. Adrienne Fowler-Choi, a director or middle manager: Someone who would make hiring decisions in larger organizations for working with freelancers or consultants. She would need information that is specific to larger organizations and therefore a separate interface.
2. Steven Huff, a personal friend interested in my photography work: He who would need his own interface for looking at my photography, but selling my photography is not a current main goal of my business. However, I have ideas for an interface that would be great for him.
3. Danica Aguirre, a personal friend interested in both my design and my photography work: She would be a potential customer persona if I decided to sell my photos via my website. However, I found that an interface for her would disenfranchise the needs of the persona who was only interested in my photography (Steven). There were also very few data inputs for Danica's persona. This led me to decide that her persona could not be my primary audience.
4. Carlo Sangalang, a personal friend interested in my design work but not in professional networking: He had very different goals from Jerome's (although they weren't necessarily at odds), so he had to remain a separate persona and potentially have a separate interface.
1. Fan Ming-hua (Charles Fan), an individual contributor who is interested in my design work: He is a very smart theoretical thinker who wants to learn more about my ideas and process. However, in his role, he is not in a position to hire a UX practitioner. Because his needs are generally all met by interfaces for other personas, especially Adrienne and Carlo, he is a supplemental persona.
1. Nick Doyle, a software developer: I made him a negative persona because the message of user-centered design is unlikely to resonate with him. He is more interested in content that is specific to programming languages and engineering design patterns. That is not the content that would be on this site. Someone in his role is also not likely to make hiring decisions in working with UX freelancers or consultants.
2. David Parmelee, me: I made myself a negative persona to remind myself that I am not designing my site for myself.
But there is a problem here. I did rounds of ideation for every one of these personas, but there cannot be more than one primary persona for an interface.
So should the site be designed for Tom or Jerome?
I chose Tom for the overall site because the site is fundamentally going to show people who I am professionally and what value I can bring to their businesses. Getting Tom's attention from the beginning is important; he is not going to go deep into a website to find answers that are not readily apparent. The site has to make a strong impression to him to show him that I know what I am talking about - both as a UX practitioner and as a solo business owner.
However, Jerome is still a primary persona for another section of the site. A different area of the site will focus on addressing his needs and engaging his ability to connect me with others. In a future project, I will discuss how I designed the site for not only Tom and Jerome but also each of the secondary personas.
The final personas with narratives are below.
I also fully developed a negative persona for myself, again to serve as a reminder that I am not the target for my own site’s design.
The above personas were generated using the same type of process I use to generate personas for my clients. However, due to non-disclosure agreements, I may not post those personas in my online portfolios. Therefore, I have posted this project as a sample.
I believe that user experience design, done correctly, has its roots in user research techniques, such as the ones I used to develop these personas. The first step of creating an effective digital product that leads to a solid ROI is to understand your audience; then make sure you are solving the root cause of their problems. If this project resonated with you and you are considering having something like it done for your website, app, or software product, please feel free to contact me.