General Assembly UX design course, week 2: Creating a persona and solving their problem

Whoa, this class is moving along quick! This time last week, I was listening back to the user interviews I did about the process of finding new yoga classes. Now there are colorful sticky notes all over two walls of my office, and I’m starting to see the shape that my final project will take.

When I say “starting to see,” I mean that. I’ve concluded that users are saying that finding yoga classes is easy, but finding classes they’ll like is not, but I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem in a practical way.

In this post, I was going to go through all the work I’ve done and all the steps I’ve taken to get to the short list of features for my final project. But then I realized that that would be boring for you, the user. And I’m no expert yet, but I know that boring the user is probably bad UX. So I’ll just tell you about my favorite part, creating a user persona, if you want to keep reading.

Personas

So my understanding of a persona is that it is an embodiment of who you’re creating a product for. You give them a name, and a story so that they become more real. So you, as the UX designer, avoid creating something for yourself.

The first time I heard about personas was in 2012, during my time working on the sales floor at lululemon. It was a weird time in my life, and not exactly the best job fit for me, but I was intrigued when I was introduced to the company’s ideal (imaginary) customer, a 30-something woman named Ocean. 

She’s 32, she makes $100,000 a year, and has an hour and a half to work out every day. At 26 and making much, much less than $100,000, I found her totally unrelatable and kind of resented her. (Now, at the same age as Ocean — who I assume doesn’t age — I still find her unrelatable.) But I was fascinated by the idea that someone took the time to research and come up with this creature. I wanted to be that person, but I had no idea how to get there.

This past week, I was super excited about getting to create a persona for my own project. Before I tell you about her, I have to tell you a little bit about the process of figuring out who she is.

Affinity mapping

This is the part where I wrote each of the insights I got from my user interviews on a sticky note and grouped them in like categories on my office wall. If this is the first post of mine that you’re reading, during my research, I interviewed five people about the process of finding and choosing which yoga classes to go to.

The categories I ended up with were current practice, class search process, frustration, and would like to know. Here are some common themes that emerged from those categories:

  • Users do a combination of home and studio yoga practice. Most said they’d like to expand their studio practice in some way, such as trying new classes or going to a studio more often.
  • When they search for new classes, they use Google search, Google maps, or Facebook, usually using some combination of location and type of class as search terms, such as “vinyasa yoga Louisville.”
  • They often find class descriptions vague, misleading, or lacking in detail
  • They would like additional information, such as poses they might encounter, if the teacher does hands-on assists or not, and what kind of music, if any, is played.

Based on all this information, I created my persona, who I named Abby.

Persona creation

Persona

I realized after the fact that the name Abby is pretty similar to my own name, which wasn’t intentional. I was just going for a fairly common name for a 30-something woman living in the U.S. Anyway, I created her story based on the common things people mentioned in the interviews, and the demographic information is a composite of the people I interviewed. (The photo is from UI Faces, by the way.)

Abby’s big dilemma with regards to the yoga situation is that she’d like to try more classes, but doesn’t want to waste time and money on a bunch of yoga classes she doesn’t end up enjoying. She needs a better way to gauge whether a the pace of a class will be suitable for her level, and whether there will be enough instruction and assistance for her.

Creating a solution to Abby’s problem

This post is already getting pretty long, isn’t it? I’ll cut it short, and say that I’ve come up with a list of features for the solution, but I’ll talk about that in a future post. Right now, the important thing is that I know what problem I’m solving and I know who I’m solving the problem for. I’ll leave you with one final bit. We were challenged to do a brainstorming activity, and come up with as many bad solutions as we could in five minutes, and as many good solutions as we could in five minutes. Here’s what I came up with to solve Abby’s quest to find good yoga classes. Enjoy!

Project HMW Party 1

Project HMW Party 2

 

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