Cooper U’s Interaction Design Workshop

September 11, 2014 Journal, Learning 0 Comments

Cooper U’s Interaction Design training course is an inspirational week-long workshop that walks students through the pre-design process. From tips about interview practices to tools used to create a well rounded goal-directed user experience. The biggest takeaway I have from the course is the importance of a goal-directed persona and how it can shape a product into an innovative masterpiece.

Starting from the beginning, interviews are an important part of a successful product. This includes stakeholder interviews, which assists designers in understanding the business goals and narrows their focus on the appropriate target audience. By working in this way, the stakeholders feel like they have an important role in the product and the designers get a clear idea of who they need to target for user interviews.

Using these interviews, tools such as spectrums can help separate a designer’s bias toward a particular user with the raw data. We create clusters of user behaviors, mental models, and goals that we can use to build a persona, or “fake” user that helps direct the design toward an end goal. By focusing on the end goal of the users, we avoid small, costly product iterations based on trends and user behaviors. Instead, we create an innovative design that can last for years, giving us the freedom to work on new features or products that benefit the business in a efficient way.

Once the persona is developed, it’s important to present this to the stakeholders and designers so that everyone is on the same page and clearly understands our target users. It’s important to use this to get any questions or concerns out in the open early on in the design process, helping to avoid delays down the road.

After the persona is polished and everyone’s clear on the target audience’s end goal, we write a scenario walking designers through the persona’s interaction with the product. This is the time to highlight any pain points and how the product would ease them, ending with an accomplishment of the persona’s goal. The scenario helps designers build a framework for the finished product through a storyboard and a series of brainstorming exploration sessions. Once the functional zones of the product are sketched out, they are presented to stakeholders to confirm the direction of the product. After a multitude of iterations, the sketches are slowly polished into a gorgeous wireframe that can then be passed off to the artists to beautify.

The wonderful thing about this process is that the persona’s goals are always in the spotlight. Whenever there is a discussion about the product, the persona’s end goals are brought up as a reminder of WHO we are making the product for. It seems that many times during the design process, designers get wrapped up in their own opinions or the goals of the business, forgetting WHO they are creating the product for. When this happens, the product becomes something that we love internally, but flops the second it hits the market. We then continue iterating in hopes of fixing the problem, only putting a bandaid on the problem.

Let’s all take one step back to discuss and define our persona’s end goal, so that we may take two steps forward to create the best experience for our users and the business.