Developing Personas

Apr 12, 2011 by     Comments Off on Developing Personas    Posted under: Methodologies

Personas help companies understand their users.  They represent a user archetype that allows development teams to quickly communicate goals to everyone on the team.

Once a company has performed field studies and user interviews, they gather the data together and start looking for patterns.  Again, the focus is understanding the goal of the user. Notes are gathered and grouped based on an affinity.

Ethnographic Research (Field Studies for the rest of us)

Apr 12, 2011 by     Comments Off on Ethnographic Research (Field Studies for the rest of us)    Posted under: Methodologies

I am a firm believer in ethnographic research.

What is it?

Ethnographic Research comes to us from the field of anthropology.  It is the process of observing a culture and reporting on it. It is a qualitative research method that focuses on understanding the perspective and context of those living in a given culture. You may have heard them referred to as contextual inquiries, a process fine tuned by the fine people at InContext.  You also may have heard it referred to as field studies.

Why should my business care?

This can be applied to business by observing the business process and asking these key questions:

  • What problems does the business face?
  • What problems do individuals face?
  • What context can be found?
Once a business has answered these questions, they can start delivering a better user experience to their customer.

The Design Process

Apr 11, 2011 by     Comments Off on The Design Process    Posted under: Methodologies

My design process has evolved over the years.  There are no great revolutions in the way that I look at design.  My skill has improved dramatically, especially on the graphic design side of the equation, but my overall process is remarkably similar to where I started.

Listening to the Customer

A lot of designers will tell you that customers don’t really know what they want, and this is indeed often true. However, it is a little arrogant to think that they know nothing of what they want, and they are certainly willing to tell you what they don’t want.  I like to be sitting with the customer, watching them do their every day tasks, and asking questions when they perform a task I don’t understand.

Contextual Inquiry really means just that.  Finding out what your customers want while being there in their context.  Customers tend to forget less, and not focus on the negative.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to understand their pain points, but you can’t get a truly exciting application by just taking away pain points.

The Genius Designer and the Myth of Innovation?

Recent articles have referenced the Genius Designer.  A prime example is Jonathan Ives at Apple.  Incredibly brilliant, and with a great eye for design.  He does a wonderful job of coming up with designs that are more than a simple evolution of what came before.  Can genius designers forgo checking their design with customers? Maybe.  I choose not to.  Yes, interviewing the user can sometimes lead to just barely incremental designs.  I understand that other people think that you end up with design by committee.  However, a combination of the two will lead to a much better product.  Combine elements of design with elements of user experience techniques and you can achieve fantastic products.

I have included examples of a couple of design documents, and a couple of web sites I have created over the years.

Need to see more? Use the contact page and send me a request.

Example 2: (External Link)

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Example 3 (External Link)

KungFu Wise - Martial arts site for MonkWise martial arts academy

Two martial art sites I created for MonkWise Martial Arts Academy
Example 4 (External Link)
Classical Trombonist Mark Broschinsky
Two more classical performer sites


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