Personas’ Remote Research

To build a persona can be tricky; you can just look how actors need months to put in the shoes of a their new characters. In UI design, personas’ creation is part of the analysis stage: they will be used to define requirements, to prepare user tests, to support decisions and to establish a meeting points between designers, developers, and stakeholders.

What is a persona?

Personas are fictitious users you create based on your user research. Personas summarize your user research findings and provide a practical approach to understanding the requirements of your target audience and keeping user perspectives in mind when designing products and creating documentation for them.

By Niranjan Jahagirdar and Arun Joseph Martin for UX Matters.

I wanted to include this definition just as an introduction, because what matters to me now is how to perform personas’ research when you cannot access to any focus group, you cannot do direct interviews or observe users.

Beyond the discussion about whether this artifact is useful or not, I think that even for large organizations is a wothwhile investigation which will help to the team to be closer to the real and target user. So, this is basically my suggestions whenever you need to face a persona’s modeling:

  • Identify primary and secondary individuals to give importance to product requirements
  • Identify behavioural variables and patterns by reading blogs, analysing the professional/gender/demographics statistics associated, and understanding the complexity of their tasks beyond the technology
  • Undestand how business rules, and work environment can affect to the performance and frequency of their tasks
  • Learn how subjects like politics can affect to the user daily work (tasks, goals, attitudes and motivations)

Tips from above are not new, you can find more precise ones in the Chapter 5: Modeling Users: Personas and Goals, of the book About Face 3.

Creating persona’s is not an obscure or expensive procedure but a powerful tool wich will help designers to make decisions confidientially. 

Pompitas de Málaga with Drupal

List of modules

Below you can see the list of the main modules used in combination with the Ubercart distribution provided by Drupal.

  • Ad
  • Administration menu
  • Content (CCK)
  • Content Permissions (CCK)
  • Node reference (CCK)
  • Chaos Tools (CTools) 
  • Blog
  • Contact
  • Menu
  • Path
  • Ping
  • Profiles
  • Statistics
  • Taxonomy
  • Upload
  • Date API
  • Devel
  • Facebook social
  • Imagecache
  • Nodewords (Metatags)
  • Open graph meta tags
  • Auto Assign Role
  • BUEditor
  • IMCE
  • JavaScript callback handler
  • Lightbox2
  • loginlogout
  • Poormanscron
  • Pathauto
  • Quick Tabs
  • Taxonomy Manager
  • Twitter Tweet Button
  • CAPTCHA
  • Google Analytics
  • Taxonomy Multi Editor
  • Taxonomy Menu
  • jQuery UI
  • Vertical Tabs
  • Views Accordion
  • Views Slideshow
  • XML sitemap
  • Slider

For a good search of modules I recommend you this website http://drupalmodules.com/, where you can see the user rating and the last version of them.

My users

  • People who know which product they want to get.
  • People who know which ingredient they want to get, but not which product.
  • People who do not know which ingredient or which product they want to get, but know why they want to get it.
  • People who do not know what is ‘natural soap’ or ‘natural cosmetics’ at all, but want to feel good and better after all.

Theming – never from scratch

As a themer, we love to create the cleanest and most efficient markup to get the very best CSS quality. In Drupal there are dozens of themes that are simple, clean and strictly valid for the W3C. You always can reuse them to save your time and to reduce the effort of creating a new theme.

If you’re using Drupal, never start your theme from scratch. You’re building a website based on a CMS which has a powerful theming engine and provides you quick starting templates. You should take advantage of the default CSS, even if you don’t like it, it’s always better to spend some time improving the mark-up rather than fixing all missed mark-up. Remember that the HTML generated by default by the core, is already included an the most of the themes supported by the Drupal community.

The theme used in Pompitas de Málaga is based on Aqua Prosper; one of the sub-themes provided with the Ubercart distribution which is built on top of Fusion.

Keep a good ‘meta’

Customizable meta tags for every page can be done with the meta tags module Nodewords. What is more, a pattern that retrieve a valid meta information directly from the content of your node it’s recommendable for a good semantic. Let Google understand your website. Try the module and see the great advantages for your website.

Related Product

To provide related products in the product page it’s a common pattern in a e-commerce. It’s a way to suggest to our customers different things that can be please them somehow.  

One way to relate products it’s by it’s category (that’s a wide concept, so be careful). Other way can be the “other customers” likes, you know “people who bought this, also bought…”.

However, in a physical world, we shouldn’t forget the intention of the expert suggestion. At Pompitas de Málaga, we’ve started this one in the initial stage of the website life in order to give some time while gathering information about other customer’s preferences.

Enjoy!

Be transparent

What’s behind the honesty of an online store? Your customers are asking you for being transparent, clear, and make them feel confident…but how?

At Pompitas de Málaga, we’ve always tried to be as natural as possible, we speak directly with the customer, we introduced ourselves from the site – check out our spontaneous video 😉 – moreover, we’ve supported every product description with our own knowledge by using our own words.

Besides, we used our own stamp so the customer we can always trust that the product he’s buying has the garantee of our business.

Probably, there are many other ways to enhance the customer relationship, nevertheless we can never forget that the investiment on this is required.

Social Commerce

It is a must, your customers are everywhere, and your site should be a common place, a meeting point and a social point of sale.

Rules for marketing 2.0 say that you have to let your users sell your products by you, they will tell the story that you want to tell. Their likes, their opinions and comments, their shares and +1’s, and all that stuff that is just one-click away will beat the challenging communication message: if it’s good for them it will be good for other people.

They are not just customers who consume your products, but they’re being proud and showing off their feelings, which is even more important since it helps to build a strong relationship between them and your products and showing the way to new customers.

Drupal 6 or 7

After few days trying to set up a basic web site in Drupal 7 I have been able to check how many new features are in that release and how promising is the approach followed for future developments. 

However, it is not ready for production sites. It’s not a surprise, drupal develpers know it and they ask for help in bug reporting. So the best I can do for the online soap store Pompitas de Málaga is to conitnue with the previously installed version of Drupal, which is, by the way, full of challenges too.

… you can find Pompitas de Málaga at Facebook and Twitter.

[istartup] links of interest

Collection of links that we assessed to help us in the new store:

Ubercart Point of Sale

It is made with Ubercart by Drupal, thinking about the possibility of an integrated solution? I rejected the idea because I rather having two separate accounts and an non-conected cash register in the physical store.

Registered Cash: Olivetti

It is the most followed option for small stores, but again, for us, we rather to have a software to helps us in the accounting process, so we needed something with more capabilities.

The printer: Brother

Our very best choice, it let’s you print tickets and sticks fully customizable.

Codeka vs PHP POS

We chose PHP Point of Sale, and we customized it as our needs, but I don’t have any special objections agaisnt Codeka. I think that PHP POS it’s quite simple, attractive and usable, and it provides you different graphical reports which are useful to see how sellings are going on.

Packaging

Thanks Cristina, I’m finding a lot of interesting ideas for making our products more special by the packaging. We are closer to elaborate a great “soap experience”…

[istartup] the beginning

Months ago, my couple and me started up a new business in Málaga called Pompitas de Málaga Jabonería, since for us it was the best choice to run far far away from the unemployment evil.

Nowadays, the natural soap store continues its activity online, while I’m still working in my current company. For us, it is being an exciting experience taking into account the big dificulties we have to deal in this days.

Months ago, I also started a blog called “istartup” which I’ll continue from here to share all the progress notes I gathered during the first stage of the project and go on with the activity, that it is not finished yet.

My apologies for those who already read and visited the previous blog, you’ll probably see many similar posts in the following days.

Thanks, enjoy!

The visual interface is now your brand

Let’s go for inspiration…

ckcimagery:

Nick Myers: The Visual Interface is Now Your Brand.

“… about the considerations of visual interface design. First of all, Software isn’t fashion. The goal of visual design is really to support the user experience, primarily, and we also have to think about creating experiences that are timeless.”

[Book] Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things

The Norman’s book Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday things is certainly praised by designers and non-designers.

Truly, it has made me a better person (I would never say that I’m now a better designer since I’ve just read a book). But yes, that’s the positive feeling you can get after reading it. You will feel like an alive and creative animal which understand the emotions through design and technology.

The book is full of examples, (figurative) pictures, experiences, and situations to illustrate why without emotions, your decision-making ability would be impaired.

There’s a kind of anachronistic tone in his view of design. He splits it in three different levels:

  1. Visceral: visceral design is about the initial impact of a product, about appearance, touch, and feel.
  2. Behavioural: is about use, about experience with a product: function, performance, and usability.
  3. Reflecive: is about long-term relations, about feelings of satisfaction produced by owning, displaying, and using a product.

explaining why attractive things really work better: beauty and usefulness are inside everyone’s mind when we look at objects. Even if we would dislike something there’s always a strong emotion behind which affects to the interaction and the perception.

So interesting, so recommended… and ready for the next one.

What do we mean when we talk about men and women?

What do we mean when we talk about men and women? Generalization is easy and risky, even though we are in the middle of a fast pace discussion about anything else and totally unrelated we should be careful for two main reasons: respect (it sounds me so Ali-G) and an effective communication.

So think twice at least once, to not to fall in a fuzzy speech.

Social Design

Has the design a social mission? Personally, I believe that art has nowadays a strong commitment with our society; more than ever an artist cannot afford be a purely contemplative being. Should the design follow the same trend?

Blanksy, an artist that I love by his compromise with the need of denunciation and critic, has an important presence in the Wall of Shame built in Palestine. Apparently, not all palestinians have agreed with Blanksy’s vision of the reality, nevertheless they’ve contributed to express their feelings and to tell the story by using the same tool: the creativeness.

In regards of design, we can see more pieces of popular expressions like the #15M movement – also known as “Real Democracy Now” – which have provoked the contribution of such many different peoplenot only designers – and has used the design among social networks and public demonstrations.

This combination of support, talent, need, and commitment, is rising up as part of the ethic of a designer with his/her own profession.

There are, actually, communities dedicated to provide the designer’s talent to any NGO which need it.

I think that even UX/UI designers should be part of this tendency not forgetting the difference between the private and the public, and bringing back some forgotten concepts such as software libre, creative commons, and responsible consume. Now, when we seem to be safe.