After attending Kim Goodwin‘s Using Scenarios to Design Intuitive Experiences workshop at the User Interface 17 Conference (www.uie.com), we have a whole new toolkit of exercises and techniques for making the most of our personas and scenarios.

Designing great experiences is one of the fundamental beliefs that we aim to bring to every project. We use a lot of experience design techniques that we know to be successful, including developing personas and use cases through research and exploration with our clients.

“Requirements aren’t waiting to be gathered,” but personas and scenarios dictate needs and requirements.

We often start a project by developing personas and use cases—stories about users based on research or actual users for an application—but we recognize now the importance of developing personas that have an emotional impact. These aren’t fictional characters; they’re real people with dreams, goals, and feelings. They behave in certain ways because they have a mentality similar to the users we expect to engage with our site or app.

In addition to well-written narratives about our personas (after channeling our inner George R. R. Martin), we also learned about Journey Maps as a way to explain all aspects of the user’s journey (either through a challenge/obstacle or process). By breaking a process into its individual parts step-by-step, we can look at three states for each action: what did the user want or need, what did the user do, and how did the user feel during this stage. This allows us to identify areas of improvement or importance during a process for a range of different journeys, from the most successful to the not-so enjoyable. We can then ask ourselves, “How can we fix or solve areas of frustration, anxiety, or just too much extra work?”

We’re incredibly excited to start using these processes in our upcoming projects—a big thank you to Kim Goodwin for her time and expertise, the organizers of UI17, and the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel in Boston for their gracious hospitality. Read some more great tweets on #UI17 or contact us to learn more.