Authors Posts by Craig Tomlin

Craig Tomlin

I've been improving revenue with online marketing, usability & conversion optimization for start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 500 firms since 1996. I'm a Certified Usability Analyst and multi-award winning marketer. Contact me for website usability testing and audits!

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UX Predictions for 2016 from yours truly and 6 UX gurus

UX Predictions 2016 UsefulUsabilityUX Predictions again? Didn’t we just do this?

Yes, believe it or not a whole year has gone by since the last time we prognosticated on the elusive to see future. And sure enough, it’s that time of year again. Time for the annual UX Predictions from yours truly and from a host of UX gurus. Learn what we think the future has in store for UX and usability.

And importantly, if you agree or disagree or think we missed something be sure to leave YOUR predictions in the comments at the bottom of this article! Enjoy!

Craig’s UX Predictions for 2016:

  1. Further expansion of Central/Eastern Europe UX Entrepreneurs. Lots of coding is outsourced there already and this will increase in 2016. Well attended gatherings like MOBX, World Usability Congress and others are already a sign this is happening and will continue to gain steam.
  2. In-App mobile usability testing will become the norm. Many vendors are already offering it, and DIY models exist (such as As engagement continues to increase on mobile versus desktop devices, UX research of mobile will become the norm.
  3. Assimilation of UX expertise in Product teams will increase. Hiring for UX designers and researchers in large and mid sized firms has been on the increase. More and more businesses understand that including UX as part of an agile approach to product development and product optimization are key.
  4. New UX vendors will be entering the market in increasing numbers, as the cost to develop new online UX research apps and the ability to generate growth and scale number of users increases. Consider some of the more recent entries like UserBob, UserBrain, UXCam, UXGofer, UserSnap and plenty more. In my opinion, this is just the beginning of a much larger wave of customized UX research solutions coming soon to a mobile device or desktop (or wearable!) near you.
  5. Investors will get wise to this expanding UX research tools marketplace and will increase their activity in existing and new UX tools and services. The recent announcement of the UserZoom $34M round of funding is an example that savvy investors see UX tools as a viable business. I’m also betting that M&A activity will slightly increase as the market matures, although M&A may pick up speed in future years once maturity in this space kicks in.

UX Predictions for 2016 from 6 UX Gurus –

RichGuntherColor-125x171-UsefulUsabilityRich Gunther: Former President of the UXPA, Principle and Co-Owner of Ovo Studios

“I think that UX will continue to expand and mature in Latin America.

The same growth pattern that we saw across Asia about 10 years ago is happening again in places like Ecuador, Mexico, and Argentina.

UX has already caught on pretty strongly in Brazil and Venezuela, but it’s now expanding to other countries in South and Central America.

The local presence of UXPA and IxDA chapters, some great regional conferences, and an issue of UX Magazine published entirely in Spanish are all signs of this trend.”

Daniel-Szuc-Photo-171x200-from-UsefulUsabilityDaniel Szuc: Dan is the co-founder of Apogee, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the book “Global UX” and was founder of UX Hong Kong.

“A prediction or perhaps more of a wish, that business will continue to see the importance of sustainable ways of making and this will translate to this idea that time is a valuable resource as are resources in general.

This means that there will be greater care taken on why people and teams are working on products and services to begin with before we decide to inject monies into these ideas or to allocate budgets for the sake of winning budgets the next year or how reward systems need to be readjusted to move away from simply a deliverables mindset.

So perhaps this implies that business will need to get better at understanding the people they design for and to find creative and continuous ways, in the spirit of continuous learning, to get to that deeper understanding of people over time that help uncover assumptions, bias, motivations, behaviors and habits.

This is not about quantified self or machine generated analytics alone. A component of this will be examining how teams work together and the necessary skills to make teams work well as part of answering more questions to help determine value and focus on more of the right things that move us away from consumer mindsets and more to quality of life.So, how do we continue to promote the idea of “being human” and encouraging empathic enquiry.”

Jan-Jursa-Photo-150x175-UsefulUsabilityJan Jursa: Jan is co-founder of the German IA Summit, MOBX Conference, MEDLove Summit and Editor in Chief of “UX Stories.” He tweets voraciously at @IATV.

“As User Experience becomes more and more recognized as a relevant performance metric by the upper management, design professionals gain influence over strategic business decisions.

This creates the opportunity for HCD experts to leapfrog project managers on corporate ladders and become involved in the core process of marketing and innovation, which of course is: understanding user needs.

The ability to deeply understand problems customers face on a daily basis will push the practice of conceptualizing unmet market needs from an idea-based approach to a problem-based approach.”


Ritvij-Guatam-UsefulUsabilityRitvij Gautam: Ritvij is the CEO of TryMyUI, a remote unmoderated usability testing tool that enables recording of tests with actual users of your website or app.

“My big prediction for UX in 2016 is that there will be a move to decentralize the role of the user researcher. I mean to say, while this role will still exist, it will no longer be the only person who interacts with usability testing data and interprets it, they will be a manager who weighs team insights against the UX roadmap.

This will be because of the realization that studying the behavior of your target demographic user on your product does a lot more than help you optimize your user experience. As Dan correctly pointed out, It gives you a window into the proclivities, motivations, biases and desires of your economic buyer.

With the very same usability testing data, a product manager can think up new features for the product, a developer can re-create a certain product bug or notice and rectify inefficient code, a designer can notice and fix pain points.

More importantly, the impact of this data will be relevant to people outside of product. It will be relevant to the VP of Sales, as a convoluted/unusable sales or e-commerce flow will tell him what UX changes can potentially increase his bottom line. Advertisers will make sure that Ads augment, not detract, from the user experience (Facebook’s mobile app install ads are an example of this already happening).

Basically UX will be relevant to a whole team and won’t be viewed as a product only concern.”

Dave-Garr-UsefulUsabilityDave Garr: Co-Founder of UserTesting and the only person that I’m aware of that ever won a Webby award for a marriage proposal.

“A/B testing will be influenced more by user testing:

Websites with a lot of traffic can finish A/B tests in a week. So their biggest limiting factor is identifying — and designing — new variations that will crush the control. Usability testing is one of the best ways to identify the biggest problems on your site (or mobile app). Once you’ve gained that insight, your new variation can fix that problem.

Imagine that you decide to start a restaurant. The good news: 100 people come to your restaurant every day. The bad news: only 3 of them stay and eat. 97 of them walk in, look around, look at the menu, and leave. What would you do? After a few days of this, you’d probably ask some of those who are walking out the door: “Hey, why are you leaving?” And maybe you’d hear similar themes, such as “You don’t have a gluten-free dish.” And, based on what they said, you’d work on fixing that.

Now imagine that you start a website. If your website is like the average ecommerce website, only 3% of the people that come to your website buy anything. But how do you find out why the other 97% are leaving? It’s harder. You can’t grab them and ask, “Hey, why are you leaving?”

But user testing lets you do that. You can intercept actual visitors who are live on your site and you can see and hear them explain where they’re frustrated and why they’d leave your site. Now that you’ve identified a major problem, you can design a variation to fix that problem, and then you can A/B test it to validate that the fix worked.”

Toby-Biddle-UsefulUsabilityToby Biddle: Toby is the CEO of Loop11, a set of UX research tools designed to address the multiple data needs of researchers and designers.

“1. The hamburger won’t go away anytime soon.

There has been a lot of research suggesting that the hamburger menu is unintuitive and confusing, such as in this article and this one. There has even been one article that explained Why It’s Totally Okay to Use a Hamburger Icon. None of this research is conclusive, so I don’t expect this issue to go away anytime soon. What I expect to see is a greater proliferation and acceptance of the hamburger menu across both mobile sites and also desktop sites as people become more and more used to seeing it.

2. Growth of customer experience as a business strategy

Business strategy and customer experience haven’t always been on the same page. In fact, until fairly recently, they weren’t even in the same room. But things are changing. Strategy as a design discipline has taken its rightful place alongside senior executives, making good customer experience a strategic business advantage. While, in some ways, aspects of this trend have been around for many years now, the culmination of (senior) hiring, influence, decision making, acquisitions, market positioning, process adoption, and other fundamental indicators of the importance of CX to a company’s business model and strategy have never been higher. It is a great a time to be in CX.

3. UX testing budgets surge

Budgets to test interfaces and experiences will continue to grow as companies try to provide one customer experience across multiple screens and devices.”

Conclusion: UX Predictions for 2016 from yours truly and 6 UX gurus

So that’s the list of UX Predictions for 2016 from my and six UX gurus. What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or think something important is missing?

Make sure you leave YOUR predictions in the comments!

PS – Here’s last year’s predictions, so what do you think, how’d we do?

7 More Controversial Usability and UX Predictions for 2015

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons license courtesy @kevinv033

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360 UX Videos from 54 Conferences

36-UX-Videos-UsefulUsability360 UX Videos from 54 UX and Design conferences around the world. Watch these to learn UX design from the masters.

360 UX and Design Videos from 54 design conferences around the world means you can watch a video a day, with a few breaks for the holidays, for an entire year! The fine folks at have put this treasure trove together, so a shout out to them.

Think of the knowledge and skills you would acquire in UX and design in just one year from one source.

If you are a UX designer, researcher, product manager or website owner, these videos are a goldmine of good advice and guidance. Watch talks from experts such as:

  • Jesse James Garrett
  • Peter Merholz
  • Mike Monteiro
  • Don Norman
  • Jared Spool
  • Luke Wroblewski
  • and 354 more!

Why 360 UX Videos Matter

The reason why these 360 UX videos matter is because of the ability it provides you to get into the minds, and hearts, of the UX greats. By hanging out with people who we aspire to be like, we change ourselves and improve on our own abilities. Watching these videos, especially if you commit to one a day is the same as hanging out with these industry luminaries.

Videos, Conferences and Speakers Categories

A nice feature of the site is the ability to sort videos by conferences, speakers or by category. The categories of videos are tagged and include:

  • UX
  • Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Google
  • Government
  • and a host of other tags

Another nice feature is the ability to sort by newest, oldest, top rated or low rating (why low rating? I’m not sure).

A minor annoyance is the stealthy darker gray on lighter gray text the categories and tabs use. This breaks UX Golden Rule #9, “Strong Contrasting Text Colors Help Visitors Read and Engage.” But other than that this is a really nice way to find all the UX videos you could wish for in one handy locale.

Conclusion: 360 UX Videos

Alright, enough reading about the 360 UX videos, let’s go watch a few! View the UX Videos on and let me know which videos are your favorites!

Additional UX Video Resources

10 Must See UX Videos – UsefulUsability

25 UX Videos That are Worth Your Time – SmashingMagazine

UX Week Videos – UX Week

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Why A/B Testing Needs Usability Testing, aka Why Opposites Attract

Why A/B Testing Needs Usability Testing by UsefulUsabilityWhy does A/B testing need usability testing? Because opposites attract, and the benefits received by coupling A/B and Usability testing can go far in improving the UX of a website or app. In fact, it’s better than any other method. Here’s why.

Way back in the dark ages of 2009 I wrote a three part series on A/B Alpha/Beta and Usability testing, asking the question of which one is better.

To summarize the pros and cons of A/B testing and usability testing from the three part series:

A/B Testing positives:

  • Fast (testing can be set up and run in a day)
  • Tests reality, not theory
  • Quantifiable with statistical significance
  • Accurate (winner almost always performs at that level)

A/B Testing negatives:

  • Can hurt results (B version failure can cause reduced conversion)
  • Missing critical “why” data (no data to explain why a version won)
  • Not predictive (data not available to determine what to test nex)
  • Needs traffic (doesn’t work on prototypes or apps with no users)

Usability Testing positives:

  • Doesn’t hurt results (testing does not impact conversion)
  • Provides the “why” data (qualitative data answers why users do what they do)
  • Predictive (results can determine what next to test)
  • Doesn’t need traffic or even a live website or app (testing available from concept through production stages)

Usability Testing negatives:

  • Trained professionals required for unbiased results
  • Won’t reveal all issues
  • Results can vary
  • On-going testing is difficult

How A/B and Usability Testing Compliment Each Other

A/B and usability testing complement each other in several ways.

First. Did you happen to notice how the four negatives for A/B testing are actually the four positives for usability testing? That’s right, the issues inherent in A/B testing are actually strengths of usability testing, and vice versa.

Chart of A/B Testing Cons and Usability Testing Pros:

A/B Testing Cons Usability Testing Pros
  • Can hurt results
  • Doesn’t hurt results
  • Missing critical “why” data
  • Provides the “why” data
  • Not predictive
  • Predictive
  • Needs traffic
  • Doesn’t need traffic

Second. A/B testing provides the quantitative side of UX data, and usability testing provides the qualitative side. The quantitative ‘what’ of user experience choices your website and app visitors make is the A/B data is augmented with the ‘why’ for those choices coming from qualitative usability testing data.

Third. A/B Testing coupled with usability testing provides an end-to-end view into the user experience of your website or app. By coupling the data, you have a much clearer picture of the engagement happening in your site or app. You also will have the data to know how to impact and improve on that engagement. Finally, you’ll have the data to evaluate your results and move forward with your next set of testing and optimization.

Why A/B Testing Needs Usability Testing

The benefits of combining A/B testing with usability testing are many and include:

  • Complete quantitative and qualitative data for more informed decision making
  • Comprehensive view into the user experience of your app or website
  • Ability to use data to predict what additional tests can increase engagement
  • A 360 degree view of data to use for continuously optimizing your app or website

By combining A/B testing with usability testing, you’ll find your testing and optimization efforts produce far better results, which is a win for you, your firm and your app or website users.

A/B Testing and Usability Testing Resources:

Three Part Series: Usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta Testing, What’s Better?

Part 1 – Usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta Testing, What’s Better? Part I A/B Testing

Part 2 –  Usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta Testing, What’s Better? Part 2 Alpha/Beta Testing

Part 3 – Usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta Testing, What’s Better? Part 3 Usability Testing Usability Testing Section

WikiPedia Usability Testing

14 Usability Testing Tools


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15 User Experience Details You Missed, with bonus details provided by UX gurus!

15-User-Experience-Details-You-Missed-UsefulUsabilityThese 15 user experience details can be missed by novice and expert web designers alike. Paying attention to these UX details will improve your website, guaranteed!

And as a special bonus, included with these 15 UX details is a special extra section of additional UX details from leading UX gurus including; Daniel Szuc (Founder UX Hong Kong), Jan Jursa (@IATV), Dave Garr (Co-founder UserTesting) and Rich Gunther (Former UXPA President).



1. Don’t bury important stuff below the fold.

Never forget UX golden rule number 1: If your website visitors don’t see it, it’s not there. According to Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile, among millions of sessions evaluated across the web, the average visitor spends ONLY 15 SECONDS on a page! Put your important stuff near the top, above the fold, and for good measure repeat it at the bottom of a page if you have longish pages.


2. Don’t break the back button.

For navigation within your own site, do not use hypertext or other links using “target=_blank” to spawn new tabs. This breaks the back button, which web visitors use when they go the wrong way looking for their content.

Remember UX golden rule 2: Do not break the back button, or you’ll potentially lose your visitors forever.


3. Mobile UX: Use hamburger menus.

The defacto system for mobile main navigation is a hamburger menu. Most mobile visitors know hamburger menus and use them to reveal navigation. Since they are a standard today don’t fight human nature, use hamburger menus in mobile versions of websites.


4. Desktop UX: Don’t use hamburger menus.

Do not use hamburger menus on desktop sites! Remember, mobile hamburger menus HIDE navigation. On desktop screens, you have PLENTY of room to provide your web visitors with the visual navigation they need to be more efficient. Remember, if your website visitors don’t see it, it’s not there. Do NOT use hamburger menus for desktop based websites.


5. Always provide a “home” page link.

Typically, long-tail search queries (meaning search queries with more than 3-4 words, drive the bulk of your website traffic. Those visitors typically visit a deep page in your website first, before they visit your home page. Providing those “deep-link” visitors with a global navigation link to your home page will help you engage with and retain more of your deep-linking website visitors.


Visual Affordance

6. Links should look like links.

Do not hide your all important links, use different colors and/or underlines to visually identify your link. Never forget UX golden rule 6, Content is not King, Engagement is. Content is but a tool to drive engagement, never the other way around.


7. Visited links should look like visited links.

It’s important to help your website visitors navigate your pages, to help them quickly find the content they seek. Use different colors for visited versus unvisited links to help them navigate your site more efficiently and let them know where they’ve been.


8. Use buttons that look like buttons.

Flat design has caused some designers to make buttons look like other (non clickable) design elements. Use visual affordance to make your buttons look like buttons and you will have more website visitors clicking them.


9. Use contrasting colors.

Readability and thus usability of content requires strong contrasting colors. Dark text on a light background works best for easy reading. Use of subtle shades of like-colors, or lightly colored text on a light background, often cause usability issues, especially among older readers. Keep your colors strong and contrasting.


10. Calls To Action must have a strong, unique color.

Each page on your website should have a goal, and hopefully that goal aligns with the visitor engaging with your business. Calls To Action stimulate engagement and thus are the most important thing on a page for obtaining that goal. Emphasize CTA importance by using strong unique colors for your CTAs so web visitors can easily find and use them.



11. Use headings and subheads (h1, h2, h3, etc.).

Web visitors scan, they don’t read, at least not until they find the content they are interested in. Use headings and sub-heads to help improve scanning of content.


12. Visually chunk content.

Content chunking is a method of combining and grouping items into smaller pieces or chunks to make them visually easier to scan. As an example, consider two identical phone numbers: 15125551212 and 1 (512) 555 1212. Both are the identical number, but by chunking the numbers into smaller groups it becomes much easier for us to scan and read the content.


13. Use whitespace to improve scanning.

Adding whitespace to visually separate content enables improved scanning.


14. Use photos or videos to help communication.

Using photos and videos, especially for eCommerce websites or for educational content, helps communicate concepts that can be hard to comprehend using text only.


15. Utilize ordered and unordered lists.

Ordered and unordered lists help improve readability and scanning, by visually chunking or clustering information into content chunks and adding icons or bullets to help improve fixation and scannability.


Bonus Section, UX Details You Missed From UX Gurus

I reached out to several UX gurus, and here’s what they had to say about small but important UX details that are often missed.

Daniel Szuc:


Dan is the co-founder of Apogee, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the book “Global UX” and was founder of UX Hong Kong. He’s a frequent speaker, lecturer and expert on usability, User Experience, Customer Experience and how they interrelate with businesses.

User-Centered Design. Understanding the customer’s task flow

Dan reminds us that a small but important detail to UX is to always consider the user’s needs, wants and mental map when designing any experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the need to execute functions and features, especially in an Agile environment. Rather than just producing features to hit a sprint timeline, carefully consider what the user wants in terms of their goals, how they think about a process, and craft the user experience to benefit and augment their task-flow.

Jan Jursa:


Jan is a highly active IA and UX leader and among other things is co-founder of the German IA Summit, MOBX Conference, MEDLove Summit and Editor in Chief of UX Stories. He tweets voraciously at @IATV. Here are Jan’s picks for UX details that often get missed:

Breadcrumb navigation. Gets omitted a lot in mobile web and app context–but is still important and valuable to the user.

Strong Calls To Action. Decide what action you want the user to undertake and present a call to this action that does stand out.

Context-sensitive Social Sharing. Provide social media buttons only on pages that actually have content users might want to like or share in a real world scenario.

Dave Garr:

Dave Garr photo, co-founder of
Dave Garr, co-founder of

As a co-founder of UserTesting way back in the dark days of 2007, Dave and his team have made a major impact for all usability practitioners across the world; a fast, low-cost and useful usability testing service that provides results in a day versus what used to take weeks. Here are Dave’s picks for small UX details that often are missed:

Label Confusing Icons. Use text labels on any icons that could be unclear

Strong Calls to Action.  Choose one primary goal or desired action for each page, and make it obvious.

Real-time Form Validation.  Use real-time validation on form fields (so users immediately know if they made a typo before they click “Submit”).

Improve Readability. Make sure fonts are large enough to be read easily (50-75 characters per line at 16 point font for desktop).

Test with Real Users.  Most importantly, test your new designs with real users before they go live!

Rich Gunther:

RichGuntherColor-125x171-UsefulUsabilityRich is the former President of the User Experience Professional’s Association and Principal of Ovo Studios, The Usability Team, and Principal Interaction Designer for Oracle.

Use Modality Judiciously. Users don’t like to feel boxed in.  Make sure that you aren’t locking them into a modal flow if it doesn’t have to be modal.

Ensure Accessibility. This isn’t just about alt-tagging your images.  As the web and mobile apps become more and more interactive, it’s imperative to consider how assistive technology can interact with your UI to provide a clean experience for users.

Look at things on Multiple Browsers. This is still a thing, even here in 2015.  Different browsers interpret the DOM (Document Object Model) of the page in different ways, and it can have catastrophic effects on layout, styling, and interaction.

Convey a Sense of Place. Whether it be a breadcrumb, a color scheme that alludes to different functional areas of the UI, or some other affordance, letting the user know where they are in the grand scheme of things reduces frustration.

Use White Space Effectively. Years of designing for desktop applications left us feeling like we need to draw a box around everything.  That isn’t en vogue anymore.  Simply grouping like elements together, and then separating them from other elements by space alone, still conveys the organization of information on the page, without cluttering it with “chrome”.

Conclusion: 15 UX Details You Missed

These 15 UX Details that You Missed, and those provided by our UX gurus, are important as many times experts and novices alike miss some of them. Review your websites to ensure you are maximizing your web visitors user experiences by checking for all 15 of these small UX details. By making sure you are using them, you will improve your UX and your website visitor’s engagement with your business.

Have we missed any? What are YOUR favorite small but important UX details that can get missed? List them in the comments section so we can all grow wiser in the ways of the force UX together!

Additional UX Details Resources:

How to Optimize Conversion with Six Persuasion Principles

Why do Pop-ups work so Damn Well?

Kill Conversion Killing Carousels Now

How One Word Increased Open Rates by 19 Percent

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How to Make a UX Research Persona video, Part 2 of 2

Watch the second part of the two part video series to learn how to make a UX Research Persona for user experience research or usability testing. Part 2 of a 2 part series.

UX Research Personas, we have the contextual inquiry data, now what?

Consolidate data and look for commonalities and patterns

Now that you have all your observations and data we discussed in the How to Create a UX Research Persona part 1 video, how do you synthesize it all into a Persona? Look for common patterns, specifically in terms of how the end-user goes about accomplishing their goal. There are several steps to looking for patterns, which include (PS, more detail in the video):

  • What are consistent work-arounds to existing problems?
  • What does everyone say repeatedly about a goal or desire?
  • What consistent task-flow successes, or failures, are shared among your end-users?

Put your draft Persona together (hint, work backwards)

Now that you’ve identified your common patterns, it’s time to start putting your Persona together. Many practitioners start by rushing off to find a great picture and/or name for their persona. However, there’s a better way to do this, and it’s by working backwards:

1. Start with end goal – What ultimately is the end-user wanting, what’s the desired end state?

2. Identify critical tasks – What are the top 1-3 critical tasks necessary for the end-user to be successful? This identification is necessary for usability testing, but not for general design or product Personas (although why WOULDN’T you find it helpful to know the critical tasks necessary for the end-users success)?

3. Document environment of use – Are there common places, devices or 3rd party tools that consistently are used or needed? If so (and they are important to the completion of the end user’s desired end-state) document them.

4. Define domain expertise – Is there a common domain expertise, meaning familiarity with the systems, terminology or processes? If yes, document them. An example is a claims processor for a large insurance company who has to be trained on the terminology and processes before utilizing an internal claims-entry system.

5. Create a name – Be sure to be culturally sensitive, focus on common names that are easy to remember and that can easily be used by your team. Names are important, don’t scrimp on spending time to find just the right name for your Persona!

6. Find a picture – As humans, we are visual creatures, so a face and name are important to humanize our Persona. I recommend real pictures versus cartoons or clip art, and if possible use pictures showing the end-user in context of use of the system. For example, if creating an app to find a lost dog or cat, a picture of a happy pet owner hugging their pet would be a good choice.

Things that all UX Personas have in common for UX research or usability testing:

There are thousands and thousands of variations of Personas out there, just do a search for “UX Persona” in Google images to see what I mean. However, for UX research and usability testing purposes most Personas should share the same things in common, including:

  • Picture – Important to personalize and humanize our persona, MUST be an accurate visual representation of our Persona. Don’t just use any random picture that sort of looks like a Persona.
  • Critical Tasks – Typically no more than 3
  • Scenario – Specific to the critical task or tasks, what is this Persona trying to accomplish?
  • Background – The background for the scenario, why is this Persona trying to accomplish a critical task?
  • Devices – What device or devices does our Persona typically use, or what 3rd party tools are required? Less important now as most people can and do use multiple devices, however still important especially if we are discussing B2B software or solutions that require specific devices.
  • Domain Expertise – How educated or familiar is the Persona with the subject matter, terminology and existing process flow? Do they have a good understanding of terminology and a solid mental map of how the process and task-flow should work, or not?
  • Environment – Again, less meaningful now that the internet is everywhere via mobile, still, it’s important to consider the context in which the user is engaged with your website or app.

You will see a huge variety in types of Personas, from the very detailed to the very basic. But for UX design and research purposes you can’t go wrong making sure you have the above data clearly defined for your Personas. Watch the video to learn why.

UX Research Persona Resources:

How to Create a UX Research Persona Part 1 – The first video in this two part video series on how to create a UX research Persona for user experience research and usability testing

How to Create a UX Research Persona Part 2 – The second video in this two part video series on how to create a UX research Persona for user experience research and usability testing

Personas – Research and techniques as documented by Forrester

Personas Introduction Video – A brief introduction into Personas, what they are, types of personas, and why Personas are important for you.

7 Signs You May Have a Problem Persona – Good article on how to spot potential issues with your Personas, and how to fix them.


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How to Make a UX Research Persona video, Part 1 of 2

Watch this video to learn how to make a UX Research Persona for user experience research or usability testing. Part 1 of a 2 part series.

UX Research Personas, where does Persona data come from?

Primary source of UX Research Persona Data:

The primary source of data is Contextual Inquiry. What is “contextual inquiry?” It is a user-centered-design ethnographic research method in which the researcher gets out with the people who we’re designing for, observing how they interact with systems in their environment.

How to conduct contextual inquiry research for UX personas:

  • Get out of the office: Go where your end-users are and observe them in their environment.
  • Observe: Just listen and take notes, let your end-user do most if not all the talking.
  • Probe: If someone says, “I like it because it’s easier for me to use,” ask “Why?” Drill down into the motivations and actions that ultimately cause satisfaction, or dissatisfaction.
  • Ask open ended questions: ALWAYS “What, why, how.” A good one is, “Can you tell me more about…?” NEVER ask close-ended questions like; “Would you… Do you… Is this…?”

Secondary sources of UX Research Persona data:

These do NOT replace primary source data (aka contextual inquiry data), they only add additional context to that primary data.

  • Website or App behavioral data: What content is or is not consumed? What click-paths are used to navigate? What search terms are entered in the search tool when people are searching for their solution? For existing websites or apps, there is a lot of behavioral data that can augment the contextual inquiry data.
  • Focus groups and surveys: Far less reliable than the other two data methods, as what people say they do is very often not what they actually do. Still, the data can be helpful as generalized inputs for the UX Research Persona.
  • Feedback and VOC data: This is also less reliable than contextual inquiry and actual behavioral data but still helpful for capturing user input. The issue with feedback and VOC data is typically input from the vocal minority is received, but not the input from the silent majority. Also, this doesn’t help you if you are building a new design or app that nobody has used yet.

Next steps after primary UX research has been gathered:

After gathering the contextual inquiry data, and any secondary data from the other sources, it is time to put it all together into a UX research persona. We will cover that part of the process in our next video.

UX Research Persona Resources:

Personas – Research and techniques as documented by Forrester

Personas Introduction Video – A brief introduction into Personas, what they are, types of personas, and why Personas are important for you.

7 Signs You May Have a Problem Persona – Good article on how to spot potential issues with your Personas, and how to fix them.