Month: October 2016

Introducing Amelie – Proto Persona

I have decided to create a photo persona for an ever increasing type of personality in Ireland, driven by the expansion of the technology industry and by Ireland being a really cool place to see and live in for non nationals.

There is huge cultural diversity in Ireland, and even in our company we have a large percentage of cultural diversity, with many having moved here for the positions, from many different countries.

So I created Amelie, who is young, hip and sassy, and is keen to meet new people by doing what she loves – drinking coffee! We will revise this as we go, but below is the proto persona. It will be interesting to see if the questions we ask will determine if this is a persona we should have high on our list!

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 17.25.13.png

Problem Identification 2

So Jacinta and I had our first meeting F2F, and it was great!

We started by tuning up the problem we are hoping to solve – connect customers and coffee houses in an easier and rateable fashion, and to ensure the personality of both are catered for – a sort of a bi directional personalisation app for coffee.

For example, a coffee shop has a personality – it has characteristics or types, such as “eatery”, “takeaway”, “ambience”, “connectivity (wifi)”, “place to read”, “place to chat”, “coffee choice/selection”.

Likewise, users or customers of the coffee shop have characteristics. Whilst there are many types of users, such as students, professionals, artists, mums/dads, techies, etc, they have some things in common – some like cheap coffee, some like fast coffee, some like to sit down and read a book and destress, some like to surf web, some like to chat etc..

Even at this stage, we have decided to whittle down the # of users to just one – professionals. We have lots of them in our company and neighbouring companies, and it would be easy to get lots of user research done quickly.

Depending on how the users respond, and hence some of our questions may be around the following – The app may need to allow users to rate and refer a friend to a shop, and allow users to find similar users so they can trust the best reviews. The users would also need to be able to add coffee shops to the visited, recommended, need to visit, to ensure if our coffee is getting stale, then we can shake it up.

We finished the session by doing an empathy map to try to focus a little. It was a decent exercise, and we profiled a professional called “Jose”, who was an overseas professional starting a new life at a new company. See the below image for the empathy map.

We started grouping some of the post-its together to get a sense of the variation in the empathy sections. Next up now, we will have to continue our user research by starting to get some potential questions together to ask a series of professionals in our organisation. There is nice variety and diversity in the company, so it should be a good sample set.











Problem Identification 1

Normally when at the ideation phase – doing individual brainstorming has pro’s and con’s, and even on our slack channel, Jacinta and I have started to think about potential ideas.

Looking at the project specification outlined by IADT, the problem must be complex enough to need redesign, but no overly so to be outside of the scope of what we are trying to do. Instead of looking at a whole host of areas, I decided to focus my thoughts around areas that I am close to, and get exposed to a lot. A few days after the two days was over, I was sitting in hook n ladder coffee house in Castletroy, Limerick, and I observed the coffee house to see lots of different users – professionals who were networking, professionals who were getting in and out quickly, mums who seemed to be catching up, and also school and college goers. I thought to myself, I wonder are all there needs being met? There is no denying, I know that Hook n Ladder has amazing coffee, but does everyone? Does everyone know it also does food, offers take out coffee, and has a reward scheme? I then questioned to myself, does the store have an idea of the demographic of its users? Does it have a student rate coffee?

On another occasion, I was in bookshop coffee shop in Cork City, and I was surprised by the delay in getting my coffee – we were in a rush so I wasn’t best pleased..!

I started to think that the problem does exist on coffee choice in ones area – where the good places are, if I am a student, which one is cheapest, fastest for takeaway for professionals? There is so much choice these days!

Then via slack, I suggested the initial concept to Jacinta, and she rightly named it Trip Advisor for Coffee houses. “I really like that idea, everyone has an opinion on coffee from coffee haters to coffee snobs. Tripadvisor for coffee or coffee shops or both.” I loved the idea of being able to rate it for any particular service type, and to make it really specific to coffee not restaurants or hotels on trip advisor..

So our idea is that, and it is a similar concept for different types of users, and coffee is something that is becoming more niche and important in peoples lives. We also thought that given where we are and the people even in our building, we would have access to loads of users to survey.

Now before we start looking for ways to solve this problem – we must propose it to Andrew and Sue for approval!



The Team is Live!

So, our first two days on the Fundamentals of UX Design course are now complete. What are great group of people in the room! Such a variety in backgrounds and stories to tell, I feel like Im learning both from Andrew and Sue (our course providers at IADT), and my peers in the class.

Highlights for me were when we were tasked with designing an app for shopping list, and normally I would start thinking about features, what it did etc.. But I was missing a core first step – the users and how it feels.. We were given paper templates with phone screens, and started to draw based on what users would want features as opposed to ourselves personally. That was a huge learning for me.

Big one for day two was the concept of building surveys online with google forms (never thought it was soon easy), and getting the questions right to ask.. Whilst I have done on site ethnography studies before with solutions, and did some cool processes tying the data from the solution to on site observation, changing the questions to maximise learnings as we went through the trial, it doesn’t really scale as it was largely a pen and paper approach, with such a small set of users.. It also doesn’t work when doing global trials, which is one we are embarking on very soon. My approaches to user research thus far in my career have been limited to google searching and stitching things together. Whilst I say to myself “well done for at least acknowledging the users”, Im really glad that I decided to get a more solid scientific basis.

Im not saying Ill end up as a 40 hours a week UX rockstar, but in my line of work, with the Innovation Garage working on projects that need to get into the customers hands as soon as possible to understand the market demand, and working on all the technical aspects to deliver that, UX was the skill set I was most lacking.

As the two days drew to a close, we were split into teams for our project. Im delighted that Im teamed up with Jacinta Moore, my colleague from Johnson Controls. It does make it a little easier in relation to meeting up etc, but that is bottom of the list in relation to why Im looking forward to working together. Whilst Jacinta works on a different team to me (Jacinta is UX Team Manager), she is a top person and has such a strong background and experience in software and UI development, so our skills will compliment well, and Ill learn a lot from her. Over many coffees, I have always enjoyed hearing Jacinta’s perspective on life and technology, so we should have a blast teaming up!

So stay tuned for the next blog on problem identification. Jacinta and I have already done some initial brainstorming, which you will see soon!






Assignment Outline

Project Context, Background and Aim

The project requires students, working in groups, to conduct a human-centered design project. Students will be required to identify a problem in an existing interface or choose an activity which has not yet been addressed by an app, website, etc. Students will carry out research to gain an understanding of the human and the tasks they need to perform. Based on this, students will design a paper prototype of an application, or part of an application, to better address the problem at hand.
The design process should be iterative, including at least two initial design alternatives and at least two iterations of the research-prototype-evaluate process. The project acts as an introduction to the Human-Centered Design process. This process will be elaborated on in subsequent modules and projects for students on the PgDip programme.

The aim of the project is to choose a problem, conduct research to gain insight and empathy, and
then design and evaluate a paper prototype to solve the problem.
You are required to:
1. Conduct at least one form of user research to gather data about your user group(s). (Future
projects on the PgDip will allow time for more extensive user research.)
2. Develop a persona (or multiple personas) that characterises the users. This must be informed
by the above.
3. Develop two (or more) descriptions of common tasks that one of the personas above would
carry out. Consider how best to represent these task descriptions (e.g. scenarios,
storyboards, etc.).
4. For at least one of the above scenarios, you should develop a paper prototype of how the
application could be (re)designed to provide the desired user experience.
5. Evaluate the prototype you developed above using an appropriate evaluation methodology.
6. Each member of the group must write and submit a number of blog posts summarising the work that they carried out on the project, the methodology followed, the deliverables
produced and a critical analysis of their work and that of their peers. The recommended
platform for this blog is
UX Design Techniques Series
Overview on
Creating Personas tutorial on
Paper Prototyping tutorial on
Foundations of UX: Usability Testing
tutorial on
Olsen, G. (2004, March 30). Persona
Creation and Usage Toolkit.
Retrieved October 2, 2015, from
Key considerations include:
• When choosing a problem to tackle, your group needs to select one that is sufficiently
complex to require enough (re)design, but not so complex as to be beyond the scope of the
project and feasibility of the time allowed. Contact your lecturer to approve your idea before you begin.
• Follow an iterative design process, initially brainstorming possible solutions to the selected problem, refining these solutions into a single prototype and testing that prototype. There should be one or more design iterations following this initial prototype.

You will need to document and critique this design process in your blog. Ensure you include screenshots documenting the evolution of your prototypes and explain the rationale for the changes from one revision to the next.
• Your blog should cover the following topics (each of these may be in an individual blog post or spread across multiple postings).
o Problem identification
o User research
o Personas
o Task description
o Paper prototypes and design iteration
o Evaluation
o Reflection on the project (including an appraisal of your own contribution and that
of your peers). How did the project go? Did the team work well together? What
problems were encountered? What did you contribute to the project?