Users behavior before personas

I’ve always had a passion for users, and naturally put them at the heart of decisions I make. Whether in sketching wireframes or designing mockups in photoshop.

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I think this is due to my time at University, studying Human Computer Interaction and User Centred Design, as part of my BSc In Multimedia Computing, way back in 2000 -2004.

Back then we had no knowledge the importance of mobile phones would play in how users consume information. Instead we were creating products like interactive CD / DVD Roms, usually found on Magazine covers and conferences, Interactive Business cards and basic looking websites. All created in flash and Macromedia shockwave.

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As you can see sites were text heavy. Here we can see the BBC do a major revamp, moving away from a vertical navigation to a more familiar horizontal nav bar.
screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-21-35-17I learnt so much writing my dissertation, The Usability of an Educational Tool.
The digital tool, I guess we’d call it a product today, taught users how Gannt charts worked and how to create one. It was created in flash.

Before I started development I researched heavily into usability from the likes of Jakob Nielsen. I also was gripped by the psychology of learning, Human Computer Interaction, and how understanding the psychology of learning could lead to creating a more usable product, and therefore a better user experience.

Classical conditioning, and memory theory played a significant role in my decision making process during planning and development. Memory theory helped think about the layout of the elements of the tool. I learnt that chunking elements into manageable numbers of blocks and by association, led to users finding it easier to learn the layout. This meant the users could learn how to use the site quicker, as elements were easily stored in there short term memory. I even got help from my psychiatrist dad.

All this understanding took place, well before I started considering personas and real users. This global understanding of users has helped me set a solid foundation before adding specific personas behaviours.

Many of these principles I still use today.

Rewarding users in timely manner. Chunking data and giving  context to data where possible, just to name a few.

Users behaviour on desktop hasn’t changed really but with the rise of mobile users and other mediums things are definitely interesting. Attitude and the notion of user testing and investing in that has changed also. Still many agencies design first policy especially when budget is tight.

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