Design/UX

Personas are just an excuse

June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017 by Carmel Hassan

How we make User Research at Ebury

If you have ever worked with a team of UX Designers, I’m sure you have heard about the term Persona. A Persona is simply a semi-fictional character that stereotypes your user. It doesn’t sound that useful, does it? Indeed, personas are fairly irrelevant but we still need to talk about them because they are the perfect excuse to drive effective User Research.

At Ebury we use Personas not just to understand how our current users are, but also to create solutions for the potential customer. This is why we take advantage of the Persona modelling process, as it gives us a better understanding of our customers’ needs.

Ebury's persona model
Ebury’s persona model

What leads your decision: KPIs and Metrics

We always start with a set of questions: what do we think is a sign of progress? How do we know that the user experience of our products is good enough and is it better or worse now than it used to be?

Key Performance Indicators will tell us whether we are going in the right direction or not, but not why. However, they are still valuable in order to know:

  • What the user performance is
  • How many usability issues we find and how severe they are
  • How users perceive our product or service

User performance is a qualitative metric based on the effectiveness and efficiency of users executing specific tasks on specific context of use. Identifying usability issues is more straightforward, given that it is based on expert reviews, while user perception is a metric collected on user reported data. These three elements define a framework in which we can measure the UX of Ebury Online and make continual improvements.

What’s happening now: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is great source of information that allows us to know more about our users and how they are currently interacting  with the product. We measure custom events to know more about how they interact and identify potential optimisation.

What happened when…: User Replay

If something unexpected happens during a user session we can also go back and reproduce it using User Replay. We study the exact behaviour of the user and learn from it.

Customer experience: Intercom

In Ebury, customer experience is the most valuable thing we measure, we always have an open door to direct human to human interaction and we rely on Intercom to make direct contact with our customers as soon as they need it.

Subject matter experts: Interviewing people

Another great source of knowledge is the one based on the experience of our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Everyone in the company who has direct contact with customers has a valuable perspective on what users might require, and how they perceive the value of our products and services. SMEs validate the persona model and give us extra information before closing the process of definition.

Even though you might think that you have gathered enough information, there is always an opportunity to learn more about our customers. Personas are continually updated and reviewed as we discover new insights.

How we put them in action?

It is said that a user story is the promise of a conversation, and our conversations about new features and their value occur within the context of a specific persona. Personas help us to better understand the problem from the moment it appears  in the roadmap. 

A perfect time to put personas to life is during the validation stage. Designers and developers review the proposed solution from the persona perspective in order to assess the usability of the deliverable before it’s released.

The elastic user is avoided thanks to this artefact that helps us to keep the focus on what is important.

Hence, personas are the perfect excuse to drive conversation between team members. Subsequently, enhancing required research, and reducing uncertainty when it comes to developing user-centred design solutions.

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