IADT MSc UX Design Assignment — Personas, Empathy, and Scenarios

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To give user-centric focus to the design work and to avoid design team assumptions about decisions, product usage was researched. A persona of a user and scenarios created. In addition to a literature review, other discovery methods were deployed.

Online surveys of stakeholders were conducted using Surveymonkey.com. 5 questions were asked with 35 responses.

Surveymonkey. Survey questions are available in the Appendix.

Based on industry reviews, application ratings, and user input a competitive analysis plotted user experience against features to determine the relative position of Microsoft Teams compared to Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, Moodle, Slack, Skype, and Zoom.

Competitive Matrix plotting competitive product feature options (vertical axis) against user experience perceptions (horizontal axis).

“Microsoft Teams is ideal for businesses who already use Microsoft 365, or who are looking to reinvent their organization’s digital communication and collaboration workspace.” (French, 2020)

Task analyses of similar tasks between competitor products focussed on jobs such as joining meetings, reacting to notifications, and handing in work.

Mapping out the assignments hand-in activity flow
Hand-in activity flow. This flow includes the pain point of having to confirm if the work was received after the task was “complete”.
Comparative user experiences for a starting a new video meeting (L-r: Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom)

Personas provide ‘humanization’ (Ogle et al, 2014) of the user by including a picture, name, tagline, and quotes from the user; enabling designers to identify what is unique about this person (Spool, 2016) and to communicate its essence.

The intention of this widely-used UX design tool (Babich, 2017) is to build empathy (Gibbons, 2017) with the user, provide a focus to the solution, and communicate their identity and feelings, usage pain points, gains, and wants to other stakeholders from a single document.

“Empathy is our ability to see the world through other people’s eyes, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do.” — Dam & Siang 2020)

For the Microsoft Teams assignment, four personas were offered for consideration: software developer, sales engineer, secondary school transition year (TY) student, and mental health counsellor:

Gaby, mental health counsellor draft persona
Sales engineer draft persona

After deferred judgment (IDEO, 2020) on a range of personas, it was agreed on the TY school student persona as a team focus: Tiffany.

Agreed Persona, Tiffany the Transition Year Student

By asking 6 Transition Year students to explore our persona and to comment, it was iterated by changing the tools details, user values, and gains sections.

  • Feelings, tech expertise, choice of device, the context of usage, and other tools are part of the digital user experience. Peer groups, media, and innovation shape users' views.
  • Add a unique distinguishing aspect for the persona; personalized with quotes, pictures, and name (Adlin et al, 2010).
  • Personas are central to other methodologies, such as customer journey mapping.
  • Ask real users to validate the persona.

Scenarios and Maps

User scenarios were created “to understand users’ motivations, needs, barriers and more in the context of how they would use a design, and to help ideate, iterate, and usability-test optimal solutions” (Interaction Design Foundation, 2020).

Possible scenarios were researched and validated by users.

Task analysis iterations for calendar management notifications for events solutions in Microsoft Teams.

Three scenarios for students were developed; the first scenario for handing in work, and the second and third iterations for calendar management and notifications.

3 Tiffany Scenarios

The hand in assignment scenario was selected:

“Tiffany completes her assignment and goes to Hand In in Teams. Tiffany checks the noisy Activity stream for the details; it’s hard to see what assignments are for her subjects only. After attaching and clicking Hand In, Tiffany is not sure if the files were sent and received by her teacher. Sometimes, Teams hangs without her knowing. Tiffany gets frustrated double-checking in chat and email.”

The problem statement was constructed using an Agile story format of “As a [persona], I [want to], [so that].” (Rehkopf, 2016):

“Tiffany wants to easily deliver assignments so that she can manage her schooling from home.”

To ensure the critical UX dimension of empathy is aligned with the persona, an empathy map was created. This tool illustrates what the user typically says, thinks, feels, and does during the assigned task. The map communicates attitudinal as well as behavioural dimensions of the task enabling design decisions to stay user-focused.

Tiffany Empathy Map

A customer journey map was delivered for storytelling and visualization of the overall UX (Kaplan, 2017). This technique captures the persona, scenario, task steps, and goals, as well as the words of a specific user and plotting their feelings throughout the task (Gibbons, 2017).

Tiffany Customer Journey Map
  • Base scenarios on typical task behaviour, pains, gains, and wants of the persona.
  • Use maps to understand real empathy: how the user speaks, thinks, acts, and feels.
  • Validate the scenario with users.
  • Decide on criteria for selecting a task problem.
  • Create visual narratives or storyboards of the user journey (Interaction Design Foundation, 2020), leveraging digital tools to share and iterate.

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