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Consumer Analysis Is Storytelling – A Listing Aside


Ever since I used to be a boy, I’ve been fascinated with motion pictures. I cherished the characters and the joy—however most of all of the tales. I needed to be an actor. And I believed that I’d get to do the issues that Indiana Jones did and go on thrilling adventures. I even dreamed up concepts for motion pictures that my buddies and I might make and star in. However they by no means went any additional. I did, nevertheless, find yourself working in person expertise (UX). Now, I notice that there’s a component of theater to UX—I hadn’t actually thought of it earlier than, however person analysis is storytelling. And to get probably the most out of person analysis, you might want to inform a great story the place you convey stakeholders—the product group and determination makers—alongside and get them interested by studying extra.

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Consider your favourite film. Greater than doubtless it follows a three-act construction that’s generally seen in storytelling: the setup, the battle, and the decision. The primary act reveals what exists immediately, and it helps you get to know the characters and the challenges and issues that they face. Act two introduces the battle, the place the motion is. Right here, issues develop or worsen. And the third and last act is the decision. That is the place the problems are resolved and the characters be taught and alter. I consider that this construction can be a good way to consider person analysis, and I feel that it may be particularly useful in explaining person analysis to others.

A detailed graph that shows the narrative structure of The Godfather and The Dark Knight across three acts. The graph is divided into segments labeled “Act 1,” “Act 2,” and “Act 3” for each film. The purple line represents narrative elements, pacing, and rise in tension and excitement within the movies. For The Godfather, in Act 1, the line rises and then dips slightly before entering Act 2. Act 2 sees the line rise, before reaching a crescendo in Act 3. The line then declines steadily until the end of Act 3. For The Dark Knight, in Act 1, the line rises and then dips slightly before entering Act 2. Act 2 the line rises and dips slightly before entering Act 3. The line then rises again and peaks, which is followed by decline until the end of Act 3.
Three-act construction in motion pictures (© 2024 StudioBinder. Picture used with permission from StudioBinder.).

Use storytelling as a construction to do analysis#section2

It’s unhappy to say, however many have come to see analysis as being expendable. If budgets or timelines are tight, analysis tends to be one of many first issues to go. As an alternative of investing in analysis, some product managers depend on designers or—worse—their very own opinion to make the “proper” decisions for customers primarily based on their expertise or accepted finest practices. Which will get groups among the manner, however that method can so simply miss out on fixing customers’ actual issues. To stay user-centered, that is one thing we should always keep away from. Consumer analysis elevates design. It retains it on monitor, pointing to issues and alternatives. Being conscious of the problems together with your product and reacting to them may also help you keep forward of your opponents.

Within the three-act construction, every act corresponds to part of the method, and every half is important to telling the entire story. Let’s have a look at the totally different acts and the way they align with person analysis.

Act one: setup#section3

The setup is all about understanding the background, and that’s the place foundational analysis is available in. Foundational analysis (additionally known as generative, discovery, or preliminary analysis) helps you perceive customers and establish their issues. You’re studying about what exists immediately, the challenges customers have, and the way the challenges have an effect on them—identical to within the motion pictures. To do foundational analysis, you’ll be able to conduct contextual inquiries or diary research (or each!), which may also help you begin to establish issues in addition to alternatives. It doesn’t should be an enormous funding in time or cash.

Erika Corridor writes about minimal viable ethnography, which may be so simple as spending quarter-hour with a person and asking them one factor: “‘Stroll me by your day yesterday.’ That’s it. Current that one request. Shut up and take heed to them for quarter-hour. Do your damndest to maintain your self and your pursuits out of it. Bam, you’re doing ethnography.” In response to Corridor, [This] will in all probability show fairly illuminating. Within the extremely unlikely case that you just didn’t be taught something new or helpful, keep on with enhanced confidence in your course.”  

This makes whole sense to me. And I really like that this makes person analysis so accessible. You don’t want to arrange a number of documentation; you’ll be able to simply recruit members and do it! This will yield a wealth of details about your customers, and it’ll assist you to higher perceive them and what’s occurring of their lives. That’s actually what act one is all about: understanding the place customers are coming from. 

Jared Spool talks concerning the significance of foundational analysis and the way it ought to type the majority of your analysis. Should you can draw from any further person knowledge you could get your fingers on, resembling surveys or analytics, that may complement what you’ve heard within the foundational research and even level to areas that want additional investigation. Collectively, all this knowledge paints a clearer image of the state of issues and all its shortcomings. And that’s the start of a compelling story. It’s the purpose within the plot the place you notice that the primary characters—or the customers on this case—are going through challenges that they should overcome. Like within the motion pictures, that is the place you begin to construct empathy for the characters and root for them to succeed. And hopefully stakeholders at the moment are doing the identical. Their sympathy could also be with their enterprise, which could possibly be shedding cash as a result of customers can’t full sure duties. Or possibly they do empathize with customers’ struggles. Both manner, act one is your preliminary hook to get the stakeholders and invested.

As soon as stakeholders start to know the worth of foundational analysis, that may open doorways to extra alternatives that contain customers within the decision-making course of. And that may information product groups towards being extra user-centered. This advantages everybody—customers, the product, and stakeholders. It’s like successful an Oscar in film phrases—it typically results in your product being properly obtained and profitable. And this may be an incentive for stakeholders to repeat this course of with different merchandise. Storytelling is the important thing to this course of, and realizing find out how to inform a great story is the one technique to get stakeholders to actually care about doing extra analysis. 

This brings us to behave two, the place you iteratively consider a design or idea to see whether or not it addresses the problems.

Act two: battle#section4

Act two is all about digging deeper into the issues that you just recognized in act one. This often includes directional analysis, resembling usability checks, the place you assess a possible answer (resembling a design) to see whether or not it addresses the problems that you just discovered. The problems might embrace unmet wants or issues with a circulation or course of that’s tripping customers up. Like act two in a film, extra points will crop up alongside the best way. It’s right here that you just be taught extra concerning the characters as they develop and develop by this act. 

Usability checks ought to usually embrace round 5 members in keeping with Jakob Nielsen, who discovered that that variety of customers can often establish many of the issues: “As you add increasingly customers, you be taught much less and fewer as a result of you’ll preserve seeing the identical issues many times… After the fifth person, you’re losing your time by observing the identical findings repeatedly however not studying a lot new.” 

There are parallels with storytelling right here too; in the event you attempt to inform a narrative with too many characters, the plot could get misplaced. Having fewer members implies that every person’s struggles will likely be extra memorable and simpler to relay to different stakeholders when speaking concerning the analysis. This may also help convey the problems that should be addressed whereas additionally highlighting the worth of doing the analysis within the first place.

Researchers have run usability checks in particular person for many years, however it’s also possible to conduct usability checks remotely utilizing instruments like Microsoft Groups, Zoom, or different teleconferencing software program. This method has turn into more and more well-liked because the starting of the pandemic, and it really works properly. You’ll be able to consider in-person usability checks like going to a play and distant periods as extra like watching a film. There are benefits and drawbacks to every. In-person usability analysis is a a lot richer expertise. Stakeholders can expertise the periods with different stakeholders. You additionally get real-time reactions—together with shock, settlement, disagreement, and discussions about what they’re seeing. Very like going to a play, the place audiences get to absorb the stage, the costumes, the lighting, and the actors’ interactions, in-person analysis permits you to see customers up shut, together with their physique language, how they work together with the moderator, and the way the scene is ready up.

If in-person usability testing is like watching a play—staged and managed—then conducting usability testing within the area is like immersive theater the place any two periods is perhaps very totally different from each other. You’ll be able to take usability testing into the sphere by creating a duplicate of the area the place customers work together with the product after which conduct your analysis there. Or you’ll be able to exit to satisfy customers at their location to do your analysis. With both possibility, you get to see how issues work in context, issues come up that wouldn’t have in a lab surroundings—and conversion can shift in totally totally different instructions. As researchers, you’ve gotten much less management over how these periods go, however this could typically assist you to perceive customers even higher. Assembly customers the place they’re can present clues to the exterior forces that could possibly be affecting how they use your product. In-person usability checks present one other stage of element that’s typically lacking from distant usability checks. 

That’s to not say that the “motion pictures”—distant periods—aren’t a great possibility. Distant periods can attain a wider viewers. They permit much more stakeholders to be concerned within the analysis and to see what’s occurring. They usually open the doorways to a a lot wider geographical pool of customers. However with any distant session there’s the potential of time wasted if members can’t log in or get their microphone working. 

The advantage of usability testing, whether or not distant or in particular person, is that you just get to see actual customers work together with the designs in actual time, and you may ask them questions to know their thought processes and grasp of the answer. This may also help you not solely establish issues but additionally glean why they’re issues within the first place. Moreover, you’ll be able to check hypotheses and gauge whether or not your considering is appropriate. By the top of the periods, you’ll have a a lot clearer image of how usable the designs are and whether or not they work for his or her meant functions. Act two is the center of the story—the place the joy is—however there may be surprises too. That is equally true of usability checks. Usually, members will say surprising issues, which change the best way that you just have a look at issues—and these twists within the story can transfer issues in new instructions. 

Sadly, person analysis is usually seen as expendable. And too typically usability testing is the one analysis course of that some stakeholders assume that they ever want. In truth, if the designs that you just’re evaluating within the usability check aren’t grounded in a strong understanding of your customers (foundational analysis), there’s not a lot to be gained by doing usability testing within the first place. That’s since you’re narrowing the main focus of what you’re getting suggestions on, with out understanding the customers’ wants. In consequence, there’s no manner of realizing whether or not the designs would possibly remedy an issue that customers have. It’s solely suggestions on a specific design within the context of a usability check.  

However, in the event you solely do foundational analysis, whilst you may need got down to remedy the best drawback, you received’t know whether or not the factor that you just’re constructing will truly remedy that. This illustrates the significance of doing each foundational and directional analysis. 

In act two, stakeholders will—hopefully—get to look at the story unfold within the person periods, which creates the battle and stress within the present design by surfacing their highs and lows. And in flip, this may also help inspire stakeholders to deal with the problems that come up.

Act three: decision#section5

Whereas the primary two acts are about understanding the background and the tensions that may propel stakeholders into motion, the third half is about resolving the issues from the primary two acts. Whereas it’s essential to have an viewers for the primary two acts, it’s essential that they stick round for the ultimate act. Meaning the entire product group, together with builders, UX practitioners, enterprise analysts, supply managers, product managers, and another stakeholders which have a say within the subsequent steps. It permits the entire group to listen to customers’ suggestions collectively, ask questions, and talk about what’s potential throughout the challenge’s constraints. And it lets the UX analysis and design groups make clear, recommend alternate options, or give extra context behind their selections. So you will get everybody on the identical web page and get settlement on the best way ahead.

This act is generally instructed in voiceover with some viewers participation. The researcher is the narrator, who paints an image of the problems and what the way forward for the product might appear like given the issues that the group has discovered. They provide the stakeholders their suggestions and their steering on creating this imaginative and prescient.

Nancy Duarte within the Harvard Enterprise Overview affords an method to structuring shows that observe a persuasive story. “The handiest presenters use the identical strategies as nice storytellers: By reminding individuals of the established order after which revealing the trail to a greater manner, they arrange a battle that must be resolved,” writes Duarte. “That stress helps them persuade the viewers to undertake a brand new mindset or behave otherwise.”

A diagram, depicting a persuasive story pattern, segmented into distinct sections that outline a narrative flow. Starting with “Beginning,” followed by “Middle,” and concluding with “End.” The “Beginning” starts with a box labeled “What is.” A line rises up to the box labeled “What could be.” A line goes from this box into “Middle” and back down to “What is” and then back up to “What could be.” This repeats one more time in “Middle,” before a line goes from “What could be” up to a box labeled “Vision of the future” in “End.” “'Call to action” is written below the “Vision of the future” box to signify that the vision is a call to action.
A persuasive story sample.

The sort of construction aligns properly with analysis outcomes, and notably outcomes from usability checks. It gives proof for “what’s”—the issues that you just’ve recognized. And “what could possibly be”—your suggestions on find out how to handle them. And so forth and so forth.

You’ll be able to reinforce your suggestions with examples of issues that opponents are doing that might handle these points or with examples the place opponents are gaining an edge. Or they are often visible, like fast mockups of how a brand new design might look that solves an issue. These may also help generate dialog and momentum. And this continues till the top of the session if you’ve wrapped every little thing up within the conclusion by summarizing the primary points and suggesting a manner ahead. That is the half the place you reiterate the primary themes or issues and what they imply for the product—the denouement of the story. This stage offers stakeholders the subsequent steps and hopefully the momentum to take these steps!

Whereas we’re almost on the finish of this story, let’s replicate on the concept person analysis is storytelling. All the weather of a great story are there within the three-act construction of person analysis: 

  • Act one: You meet the protagonists (the customers) and the antagonists (the issues affecting customers). That is the start of the plot. In act one, researchers would possibly use strategies together with contextual inquiry, ethnography, diary research, surveys, and analytics. The output of those strategies can embrace personas, empathy maps, person journeys, and analytics dashboards.
  • Act two: Subsequent, there’s character improvement. There’s battle and stress because the protagonists encounter issues and challenges, which they have to overcome. In act two, researchers would possibly use strategies together with usability testing, aggressive benchmarking, and heuristics analysis. The output of those can embrace usability findings experiences, UX technique paperwork, usability pointers, and finest practices.
  • Act three: The protagonists triumph and also you see what a greater future appears like. In act three, researchers could use strategies together with presentation decks, storytelling, and digital media. The output of those may be: presentation decks, video clips, audio clips, and footage. 

The researcher has a number of roles: they’re the storyteller, the director, and the producer. The members have a small function, however they’re important characters (within the analysis). And the stakeholders are the viewers. However an important factor is to get the story proper and to make use of storytelling to inform customers’ tales by analysis. By the top, the stakeholders ought to stroll away with a goal and an eagerness to resolve the product’s ills. 

So the subsequent time that you just’re planning analysis with shoppers otherwise you’re talking to stakeholders about analysis that you just’ve finished, take into consideration how one can weave in some storytelling. In the end, person analysis is a win-win for everybody, and also you simply must get stakeholders interested by how the story ends.

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