Target audience research & Users research. Part 2

UX designer David Darmanin shared his experience about making a career at DesignTalks and he mentioned an interesting issue - the most important case that you need to pay your attention to is not a testing, not a measurement but user research. (1)

User Research: how to find and not to lose?

Only real user feedback can provide UX designer with information, that will be really useful and available for conversion into profit for your business.  

“We spoke to some of our users, and basically what they said to us was they were completely confused. They were so confused that they didn’t even realize that there were totally different dimensions to the way we price. And what’s interesting that we were equally confused, because we had no idea that this was happening.”

There are a lot of methods of user research. But do not fall down in a hurry-up path to use a modern super-duper delightful and well-designed tools for user research. Your best tools for user research are your legs. Good UX designer is making real-time interviews, he is asking a simple question, he gives an opportunity for the user to use the product and he is observing emotional stages, not only hot button clicks. That is why it is so easy to lose the user while research. Be passionate, be simple, be observant.

Frankenstein monster or Personas creating? (characteristics and patterns)

After segmentation and user research stage, you have some knowledge about your audience. And the next stage is creating personas, which gives you an opportunity to face your user very closely. If audience segmentation was a stage of divide and discovery, - persona creating is a stage of detalization and deeper understanding of the user. Even more - it is a stage to empathize with the user.

But there are a lot of questions still. Who is my persona? How can I know that I am creating really true and very possible pattern of habits? Or how can I know that my persona is not a Frankenstein?

To avoid that risk UX designer uses some rules while launching personas for a better understanding of end-user:

    • Be focused on user goal, current behavior, and pain points
    • Be based on field research and real people
      • Not just tell a nice story but explain why people do what they do
        • To avoid the “elastic user” and self-referential design
          • Use only current info - not a future suggestion
            • Be realistic and do not idealize a customer, situation or user flow

              Remember: persona is the voice of the user. (2) And the goal of User Experience Designer is to make this voice sound good and without distortions.

              Map of empathy or reading thoughts of end-user

              We are going deeper and deeper. Now we will talk about the map of empathy. It is really hard to find a good UX designer because high level of empathy is so rare nowadays.

              But even if you are crying at every TV show it is not a guarantee that you have a high emotional intellect. Professionals are using special tools to discover emotions of the user. For example Map of empathy. For example updated version by XPLANE (3). This is a special well-organized canvas with sectors that should be filled with answers to questions:

                • Who are we empathizing with?
                • What do they need to do?
                  • What do they see?
                    • What do they say?
                      • What do they do?
                        • What do they hear?

                          And in the center there is a space for the main question: What do they think and feel?

                          Of course, all of answers should be filled one by one. This really works if UX designer has some skills of psychology and is interested in cognitive psychology and behaviorism science.

                          How to make a big picture of business with Customer journey map?

                          We love all-in-one stories. We love to observe how interactions are working, we love to know what our customer is thinking about our brand, we wish we could collect all information and use it to make a product or service better. But we can! With a help of Customer Journey map, this task seems very simple. And as you know the most simple things are the best.

                          Customer Journey map is a visualization of a relationship of a user with a brand, product, service. There are different ways to use it but the way of creating is universal. It consists of 9 steps:

                            • Review Goals
                            • Gather Research
                              • Touchpoint and Channel brainstorms
                                • Empathy map
                                  • Brainstorm with lenses
                                    • Affinity diagram
                                      • Sketch the journey
                                        • Refine and digitize
                                          • Share and use

                                            In the end, it looks like a well-planned trip to a product, that contains the schedule of life of persona: lifestyle, emotions, touchpoints and channels where the interactions take place with context of use (website, native app, call center, in-store).

                                            It can be used for any goal that your company wants to achieve - creating a marketing plan, planning to create a new product or to optimize a service. That is why  UX designers are using Customer journey map to look at the full picture - to know the frames of future design. And of course, to plan perfect use cases and scenario, that will really work.

                                            Use case and Scenario - be like Super Mario

                                            If we know how and why our user will come to our site or download our App - we should also know which steps and in what mood he will do next. UX designer is not a Nostradamus, that is why he is planning every step of user flow with an Informational Architecture. It is so complicated to talk about that we will use some metaphor. The use case is what to do and the scenario is how to do. What to do - is enduring purpose or something that your user is going to do. And How to do is options and variable for reaching it. Not always goals are reached, sometimes scenario leads a user to change his mind and even change a Use case. So UX designer should find out when to change a user`s mind or where to build such a flow or scenario that will help user not to change his mind and reach the goal.

                                            It is like a Super Mario game. The hero is trying to get out of path smashing blocks and avoiding monsters. Blocks and monsters are invisible factors that could bore your customer. They even can change his mind to use a product. Oh, if we even could imagine how much users did not reach the products because of heavy user flow and incompetent design. It is really amazing how can UX designer figured out all variants of user flow. Also, good Use cases and scenario that are made with high intelligence are saving weeks of coding and developing.

                                            As you see target audience research and User research lead UX designers and all team to a better understanding of end-user, to save money and time, to intelligent problem solving and creativity. The main message is - do not guess about audience and user, just know it for sure!

                                            Next publication will be about Customer Development process based on Steve G. Blank book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”


                                            1. Margaret Kesley. USER RESEARCH THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR COMPANY.more info here:
                                            2. Eeva Ilama. Creating Personas. more info here:
                                            3. Dave Gray.Updated Empathy Map Canvas. more info here: