Knowing your user, their values and their behaviours is no small feat. I recently held a mini workshop on the subject for a group of companies needing to learn how to focus on this. I call this a mini workshop because this is a large topic and the workshop was just 2 hours. We covered the basics of this area to draw some focus on how to start considering your users fully and what processes you can begin to undertake.
Here is my SlideShare from the workshop, with interactive exercises to involve everyone in the processes to learn.
Pointers to Start the User-Centric Process:
- I highly recommend doing all the exercises first with a fake product. It's way easier getting accustomed to the thought processes and flows to consider your user first with a simple 'pretend' product than with your own product that you live and breathe each day. Start simple and get the gist of things! “Time-boxing” this process is how to keep stakeholder buy-in for this approach.
- Use the 4W problem canvas. We only had time to look at the 'Who' in this mini workshop, but I implore you all to spend some time brainstorming all 4Ws. Get your thoughts on post-its. It sounds like cheesy stuff but it is a great starting point to see what you have and have not even considered before about your product's usefulness and value. It will bring to light what you have so far based your beliefs on: Evidence or opinion.
- User personas: Get down on paper who you think the users are and divide them into influencers, early adopters and main stream / mass market. These user personas may not turn out to be totally correct once you start to gather evidence, but you can't know what is right or wrong until you first have some ideas down on paper.
- Now here comes the vital bit: Find ways to gather evidence about are these your users?, what do they value?, are you solving an important problem for them?, How are you answering to their emotional values and rituals as well as their practical needs?
- Lastly, this is not a one-stop-shop. Gathering good evidence of your user base is an essential first step to avoid the echo chamber of your own company or team's beliefs, but your users grow and change with your product and with others. You have to keep evolving with them. Keep measuring, keep testing your next iterations. Don't worry if some features are a total failure, just make sure you find out quickly and make measured changes.
This is a very quick summary to get started. There is a lot of value in taking these first steps as it shows an important change in mindset from "we have an awesome idea, let's do it!' to 'let's see if our idea is awesome in the real world for real people'. There is plenty more to do to consider your users and make good data driven decisions but this is certainly a great and vital starting point.