17 Jun 2022

User Persona Driven UX Design for the win

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Written by Gauri Kalurkar

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Have you noticed anything in common with the most frequently used apps on your mobile?

Besides boasting a powerful algorithm that keeps you hooked, I am sure you’ll agree that all these apps have a beautiful user interface and a pleasant user experience as well! The inference is that be it an enterprise solution or a consumer-facing one, having a bad UI/UX design is non-acceptable for today’s user.

Although UX design lies at the intersection of art & science, following some fundamental good practices can make a great difference. One such factor is following user persona-based design & development practices.

User Persona:

In short, a user persona is someone representing your target user base. Conducting a user persona study includes gaining a good understanding of the user’s background, profession, interests, frustrations, needs, aspirations, work environment, and any other detail which helps you know your user better. User persona study is the KYC of the software product development world.

Following user persona-based design & development practices can be a game changer!

Don’t take our word for it, over our years of experience building software solutions we have had our share of experiences to validate this.

Join us as we attempt to explore the role/importance of understanding user persona while designing and building software solutions through our experience.

Experience 1: (Not so) Broken Buttons don’t lie- How we learned from our design mistakes

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We have an ongoing Canadian customer in the Employee Health & Safety (EHS) domain. As their technology partner, we had enhanced a legacy solution and built a mobile app. One fine day, the customer reached out to us with a rather peculiar issue – the buttons in the mobile app we built aren’t working!

We were surprised, as the app was working perfectly fine when we tested! To get to the bottom of this problem, we revisited the basics, and voila! the answer was hiding in plain sight.

The main utility of the app was to enable industrial field workers in North America to record safety-related incidents.A typical user being a North American male, often having a height of approx. 6 ft User environment were mines/other industrial sites, often having low lighting and visibility and bleak network connectivity. Another point to take into consideration was that often the app would be used in harsh/cold weather conditions- meaning that the app will be used with gloves.

And there was the answer—users wearing thick gloves simply couldn’t click the desired buttons on the app easily.

Conducting this user study helped us tweak the app to make the end user’s life easier.

Here’s what we did:

User Interface engagement points were designed considering usage with thick gloves. Most of the small buttons and text were replaced with larger icons and font sizes. Screens were redesigned keeping in mind varied demographics (Ages, Eye sights etc). Major redesigning efforts included opting for an appropriate colour palette, font choice, icon design, and choice of buttons (sliders, simple yes/no buttons, pick lists) Offline sync capability was developed considering the usage of the app in areas of bleak connectivity

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that we initially failed, went back to the basics, and learned from our mistakes. In the hindsight, we realized the moral of the story that lack of understanding of the end-user while building a software solution can decrease the utility of the solution or worse, can render the software useless.

Experience 2: Leveraging user-persona study to put a stop to revenue leakage

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We were approached by a fintech firm serving more than 50% of the Credit Risk assessment market nationwide to revamp their existing web and mobile solutions. Not only were these existing apps inefficient but were also causing significant revenue leakage to the company.

Why were users unhappy with existing solution? User persona study helped understand more about this dimension -A high-school educated field agent who spends a typical workday visiting residences of loan applicants across the city to collect and verify data. The field intensive nature of the user’s job meant that the app should be very simple, procedural in nature. This was supported by interesting finding we uncovered through end user interviews that the users would often report issues with the existing app and reported it as difficult to use.

There were clearly anomalies in the business process which were contributing to the revenue leakage. We aimed to address these anomalies and a clear case of lack of user acceptance while we designed and built a revamped solution.

Considering the findings of the user persona study, here’s how we effectively revamped the solution:

  • Significantly reduced (or in some cases-eliminated) the typing for the field users with easy-to-use features like pick lists, yes/no options, select buttons, keeping the process as simple and objective as possible.
  • The application workflow was redesigned in a way that organized/arranged/streamlined the data collection process in a logical order thereby reducing unnecessary efforts and time wastage for the users (field agents)

The complete revamp of the application workflow helped made the solution a success and helped makes users’ life easier—in short, this overhaul brought in a significant improvement in user acceptance, making all the difference!

Experience 3: No Gain without eliminating the pain

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Competitive sports require professional training. Delivering such world-class fitness training is a challenge when the student and coach are not co-located.
Which is why a renowned coach based out of the US wanted to build a software solution to move to coach online and allow athletes and coaches to track the entire fitness journey seamlessly.

A user-persona-centric approach was adopted to convert the vision into reality. We leveraged techniques like user interviews, user persona building, empathy mapping, journey mapping, and defining an information architecture to know more about the prospective users
This gave us an unparalleled insight into the user/client’s intent & pain points and ultimately allowed us to design, architect, and build a solution addressing the end-to-end needs of online fitness coaching.

Building an all-inclusive training platform has allowed us to eliminate the pain of coaches relying on multiple platforms to disseminate online training, send invitations, and collect fees.
On the other hand, doing a detailed user persona study of students helped understand their pain points of having to travel long distances to attend coaching. The solution also addresses their concern of not being able to communicate often/stay in touch with coaches by building a slack like internal communication interface within the app.
An important lesson learned here is that the purpose of any solution should be to address & eliminate the primary pain areas of users. There could be many pain areas and we should be able to identify the ones that are of prime importance – which if solved gives maximum leverage!

To sum it up

What we have learned from instances like these over the years is that-Without studying a business and end users, their way of working, and their priorities, challenges, and pain areas it is not possible to design a good solution.

We have observed, with such practices, we were able to

  1. Increase User Engagement & Retention
  2. Increase user acceptance
  3. Increase customer satisfaction
  4. Humanize your solution/Add a human touch to your application

At IncubXperts, our endeavour remains to build business intent-driven, user-centric solutions which will attempt to make the end user’s life easier! Backed by an in-house team of UX experts, IncubXperts ensures that we have all the best tools in our arsenal to deliver impeccable user experiences.