In the art that user experience has become, we talk a lot about not letting our client’s personal preferences get in the way of what would be best for the user. Yet no matter how often we remind our clients and teams of this throughout the design process, we still find that users are unpredictable, and some changes need to be made post-launch to reflect how they actually use the product.
There’s no fool-proof way to avoid this problem, but I do think that we can improve our processes to be more user- and goal-based. No, I’m not talking about doing more studies with users, eye-tracking studies, or heat maps; what we need to do is bring the user into decisions we make from the beginning.
This is easier than it sounds, and a simple way to accomplish this is to incorporate personas into our work. In design circles, a persona is an archetypal representation of a user. The idea is as old as marketing, but Alan Cooper solidified the idea into a design philosophy in 1995, and designers have been using it to improve their user experience ever since.