Chapter 9. Users and User Research

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Users and User Research

Every design project starts with personas. The user hides in the folds of our gray matter. For every product, service, or interface you design, you imagine the user who will use it, and everyone on the team imagines a different user.

Just like with project goals and vision, when everyone on the team imagines the same thing, you collaborate more easily and effectively. Documenting the user makes the user real and lets everyone on the team imagine and design for the same person.

That being said, have you ever noticed personas often look different and capture different information? We’re going to talk about how to model users, so you and your team can collaborate on better designs, and the experience machine will crank out better products and services. In this chapter, we’ll examine the different attributes you can use to document a user model. We’ll also spend some time on how to determine the type of research you need, if any.

The attributes we discuss in this chapter form the foundation for the following collaborative activities on prioritizing users, understanding user needs, and documenting your user models as personas.

Personas vs. Profiles vs. Roles vs. Archetypes

Some people take exception if you suggest you don’t need user research to make a persona. Some teams sieve oceans of quantitative data to craft personas, while others quilt personas together from patches of qualitative research. Though some argue ...

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