Designing For The Multifaceted User

Designing with users in mind is a tricky thing. Not only does it require of us a sound understanding of who our users are, but the actual act of translating what we know about them into a well-designed product is not always an obvious or easy path.

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Currently, our user experience tools tend to focus on “who” users are. I believe this is a hangover from how we traditionally approached marketing and market research. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a somewhat different method, which has proven useful in a few of my own projects. It has been particularly handy for building value propositions and for clarifying assumptions we make about our users’ behaviours. Most of all, I like how it helps with prioritizing product design decisions.

Further Reading on SmashingMag:

So, first, let me explain where I think our current toolset falls short, and then I’ll walk you through an example that uses this newer technique. By the end of this article, you should be ready to give it a try yourself.

We Are Multifaceted Link

Put yourself in the shoes of a user for a moment. Imagine that a friend has introduced you to a new Facebook group about a subject you both like. If you are the shy sort, like me, you would lurk around for a little while. Once you became more familiar with the group’s dynamics, you might gradually become bold enough to post a comment or share an appropriate link.

Imagine also, then, that you’ve stumbled upon a blog post on a topic that you care strongly about. Someone has posted a comment that you completely disagree with — I’ll wager that, if you’re fired up, you would post almost immediately, rather than take the time to absorb previous posts. You remain the same person, yet your reaction to something will depend on what it is and what is happening at the time. This is normal.

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