Yesterday, I attended Design Monday’s monthly meetup on the topic of Personas.
Personas is a technique that has been existing since the late 90’s,
way before the term UX was coined. It’s a great tool for all
designers, and I believe it can be used in all fields of design. For
me it’s a way to be sure that we always design for the users, and the
right ones. It’s also a very good medium for communicating ideas, and
It was a great opportunity to learn more about this technique. The speakers had all different experiences which prompted quite some sharing after the talks. I learned a ton that I hope to use within Ambrosio during the upcoming months.
I also did a presentation in which I introduced Ambrosio’s proto-persona and how it influenced some key decisions we had to made for Ambrosio’s prototype. I also shared what we learned with it and how we plan to improve how we use the methodology to develop the next iterations of Ambrosio.
Here you can find the slide deck and below the transcript.
I am working with some friends on a little project called Ambrosio.
Given the topic of today, instead of talking to you about my project, I’d like to explain who Ambrosio was made for.
Ambrosio was made for Claudia Castro, 27 years old and living in Lisbon.
Claudia regularly eats out. By regularly I mean at least once per week. And by eating out I mean, going out for a cup of coffee or going out for lunch/dinner/beer.
Claudia likes to know the city in which she lives. She regularly attends cultural events: film festivals, concerts, art expositions. She subscribes to the lecool weekly newsletter. She also reads Timeout magazine, and buys city guides for locals, like lecool Lisbon, Timeout’s yearly 150 best restaurants guide.
When Claudia goes out to eat, she does not settle for just any place. She wants to go to the most adequate place for the situation at hand: whether that is a fast lunch on the move, a romantic dinner, or a business tea meating.
Often Claudia feels frustrated while choosing a restaurant. It is starting to seem like she spends too much time wondering where to eat next, and she is often going to the same places just to keep it safe with the tried and tested.
In order to ease her in this process, Claudia has tried a couple of applications. She tried Foursquare and to her dismay the experience was very much skewed towards checking into places, and letting know your network where you are. It was not built around helping her discover great places to eat.
Claudia also tried Lifecooler and she realized that there was just too much clutter and too much things besides helping her to eat out. Suddenly she could start booking hostels, or knowing about the happenings in the city, and she just wanted great recommendations regarding eating out.
Claudia wants to know the story behind the places and what makes them special. She also does not wish to browse through endless reviews to learn about the dishes that she should not miss at the place. Unfortunately, Zomato could also not help her with that.
She also tried Yelp in order to search for great places to eat near her place. And she was overwhelmed by the results, which required her to browse through hundreds of places – some of them nice and others not as nice.
Claudia is the persona for whom we designed Ambrosio. Actually, it was more of a proto-persona since we built the prototype based on a set of assumptions. But these assumptions were the main drivers behind key product decisions that we had to make.
We noticed that it was getting harder for Claudia to discover new great places to eat. So, on the first iteration of the prototype we tried to make this easy by sending a weekly newsletter with one recommendation. Already here, we were focusing on making sure that this recommendation would transmit the story of the place by providing great photography as well as a good description of the place.
On the second iteration of our prototype of Ambrosio we created a website. And when we were designing the homepage (which features a list of places) we wanted to make it possible for Claudia to browse through that list and be able to choose a place to eat without even clicking for more details – hence the thumbnails accompanied by a small description of the place. Additionally, there is a single focus of the page – discovering remarkable places to eat.
When Claudia wants to know more she can just get more details about a restaurant, with more pictures, but most importantly learn about what makes a restaurant special. There is a story in short form with a summary of key characteristics as well as a story in long form which tries to transmit the environment of the place (along with the huge pictures).
But the key thing, is that Ambrosio’s opinion is an opinion Claudia can trust when she wants to discover a new remarkable place to eat. This feeling is transmitted through:
- the weekly newsletter in which Ambrosio addresses the subscribers like if he were a person.
- the fact that the content is curated therefore, we only share places that we believe are special.
Somehow we used one proto-persona during our process of creating Ambrosio and it had a positive impact on our project, namely:
Understanding the problem we wanted to solve and trying to develop the right solution for this problem. The main issue I see with the other apps that do a similar thing, is that they are just not solving the problem that Claudia has, they are solving something else, and that is ok. But it was crucial to understand Claudia’s problem in order to avoid going down the same path.
Learning how we can differentiate our product. This space is crowded and we want people to easily notice if this is “their” product or not. By understanding the goals/behaviors that people might have with Ambrosio it was easier to position ourselves and also see what is the best way to communicate the value that we provide.
Relationship with users – users love to use products that solve their problems really well. And we started to realize that the engagement between users and Ambrosio is high due to that. We have users that give us feedback when they try a place that we recommended. They e-mail us telling that they loved a certain place and this is the kind of way we want Ambrosio to impact the people.
When we build the current prototype of Ambrosio we did not follow the strict process documented by Alan Cooper “to the book”. We started by making assumptions (so no research), we had a clear idea of the user we were building it for (Claudia) and we just build a product around that user.
Now that we are planning to rollout more complex features and our team is growing we are looking forward to revisit the process. We wish to make a more thorough research, develop a couple of personas and user stories so that we make sure that we are developing the right features and are on track with our vision.
But the main point I wanted to leave with is just the fact that in the end this is just a process that helps us to clearly convey a certain message. By focusing on the guiding principle – know your user – we are able to use different processes that evolve as our project evolves!
Also, if you know somebody that might like it too, please spread the word!