Involve users through the design phase

Steps to involve users from the start

I think it might be interesting for you to follow a design project where the focus is on how to involve users to create better usability.

Right now I’m working at an IT-company and I’m also a full-time  student in my second year. I study (as you might have guessed) usability, digital design and user experience design. And during my workdays I’m a project manager handling IT-development projects. Which is a great way to apply my knowledge in real life.

Here I will introduce you to a project from school. We have just started and the goal is to make a user centered design (UCD) process. The users are going to be involved through the whole process.

How do you find the users’ needs? We had to focus on an area where people have an interest or hobby that takes a lot of their time and the goal is to design a mobile application.

My target group is people who are interested in Harry Potter (Potterheads ).

To find out more about what they do, I met some Potterheads and asked them, not what they expected from an app, but what they like to do. They list these activities:

  • Reading and discussing the Harry Potter books
  • Watching the movies
  • Writing their own stories about Harry Potter (fan fiction)
  • Visiting events and places where the movies took place
  • They like games about Harry Potter
  • They try to live a Harry Potter lifestyle

I have also visited a huge number of communities and blogs about Harry Potter to learn more.

I created a mind map that helped me to organize the activities.  As you see, it does not have to be fancy or take a lot of time to create.

From this, I created three “personas.” Personas are representations of your key users. They are suposed to help me focus on the target group through the design process. Read more here.

I ended up with a PACT-analysis, which means describing the People in the target group, the Activities they like to perform, the Contexts where activities take place and what this requires from the Technology.

The last  two thing to do in this start up phase was to:

  1. Describe the purpose: to support Potterheads in their activities and help them get larger communities with a focus on genuineness and the experience
  2. Describe the goal: design a mobile application that encourages interaction and helps Potterheads to meet, discuss and play games.

This is where I am right now in the design process. I will continue my travel and I hope you will be a part of it. Please share you thoughts and tips below.

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