Stage 2: Research- Project: Portfolio

Thank you everyone who attended the kick off meeting. I think we have some clear goals and key responsibilities in place. That being said, this forum post is for the research feedback that we all have.

Just a quick summary:

[B]Content and Content strategy[/B]-

  • JC
  • Hawk
  • Lukcha
    ( I think I should take a stab at crafting the content strategy document and posting it for review?)

[B]User Research[/B]
JC - I was thinking of running a survey on some recruiters I know.

[B]User Testing[/B] (This would be needed in the design phase more than this phase but just posting it up)

[B]Personas [/B]- HR, Recruiter, Senior Ux
Natalie Eustace

When time allows, if you are still interested in participating we can use this board to post our findings. I would like to give this phase a good week as I know everyone is busy. So I will say this phase will wrap up on the 10th. If that doesn’t work for anyone just let me know.

In terms of personas, Hawk you said you had some good ones that you have used, would I be able to see those? Also JC do you have specifics around the personas that you would like to do? i.e. do you have a format that you would like to use? There are proto-personas and then there are personas, and there are also different ways of presenting each.

If the first phase is involves creating content and a content strategy, and personas, I’m going to suggest till longer than the 10th, as that doesn’t give very long at all. - assuming you meant the 10th of Feb.

I’ve got some of my workplace HR and UX team that I can interview to help build up personas if needed. :slight_smile:

Natalie, thanks for the feedback. I am aware of personas in the actual sense, and I have not had much experience with proto. Can you explain the difference? Also, would 2 weeks work better? Let me know if you have a suggested time frame.

Did I say that? I must have lied…!

So, just thinking through this… This phase and the next (analyzing) is where I lack experience. Maybe some of the uxmaster community could post up how they would handle this phase as a guideline for me?

I understand what a persona is… and my immediate though would be they are used in a user story?
When do you write a user story? How do you tie everything together (content strategy, user stories, user research, etc?)

In all honesty 2 would suit me better unless you are really on a time crunch, as you want to be able to take a good run at the beginning research etc, and this is generally the time to do it.

The explanation of this I’m taking directly from “User Experience Team of One” by Leah Buley.

"A persona is a composite picture of a collection of users boiled down into one relatable, human profile. A persona is usually presented as an individual person with a name, a face, and a backstory. Personas usually explain that person’s needs, values, goals, frustrations, and desires. Personas are made as human as possible to further enhance the sense that this is a real person with a messy life and quirky ways of coping with very recognizable human situations. A persona is a fictitious composite based on extensive user research that you or someone else has observed firsthand. The trouble is, creating good personas takes time and resources.

Proto-personas are a modified version of personas that stimulate the same type of empathetic and user-oriented thinking, but with less investment in time. They can be created with the help of the cross-functional team, which makes them a quick and inclusive tool for turning on the user experience goggles. In essence, proto-personas are a persona hack that you create using whatever data you have available and with the help of the team. Whereas a classic persona is based on firsthand user research, a proto-persona is based on whatever insights you have, which can include secondhand research, or even the well-informed hunches of a team of people. (Of course, if you have firsthand research to refer to, that’s ideal.) Proto-personas are less scientific and rigorous than traditional personas, but they can be equally effective for helping a team shift into a more empathetic mindset about users’ needs."

I think what you would be looking to create is personas, as we have actual people that we can talk to to at least have a basis for them :).
So I’ve already got 3 Senior UX designers, and 2 HR staff that are happy for me to interview, so I’ll do that next week if I get the go ahead from you. It would be a good exercise too for us to come up with questions to ask them, and validate it as a group too. If we have a common set of questions and a format, then others can also do some face to face interviews if they have willing participants, and that can give others some interview experience.

That all sounds great. =)

Here it is as a basic process in a bit more detail: [LIST=1]
]As Natalie suggests, shortlist some interview questions as a group, focusing on context and behaviour related to key tasks.
[]Recruit a couple each of recruiters, employers, peers (6-10 interviews max).
]Divvy up the participants amongst those wanting to run the interviews. 3-4 volunteers, perhaps.
[]Conduct the interviews via Skype in in person, recording video and/or audio and taking notes as we go. Use the recordings to double-check notes.
]Uploading the notes here so everyone can see them.
[]Competitive analysis[LIST=1]
]Use the list of portfolio examples in Hawk’s article as an initial pool of reference sites. We probably only need to do half a dozen of the most suitable.
[]Divide the list into whoever would like to participate in doing a competitive analysis. We need 2 or 3 volunteers.
]Use a standard protocol and questions template for capturing data in a consistent format. I can dig up one’s I use unless others have some they’d like to try?
[]Scan and upload the notes here, ready to discuss.
]From this we can work out some qualitative milestones and useful metrics to measure success, plus develop an initial shortist of features.
[]Stakeholder interview[LIST=1]
]Interview JC (noquarter) for the deeper requirements from his perspective as the key stakeholder. Again, we can use a standard set of questions if needed.
[]Upload notes here.
]Regroup and discuss preliminary findings as a group here, and identify any areas where we need to dig deeper.
[/LIST] It’s a pretty rough plan, but it’s objective. Using a couple of volunteers spreads the workload and gives people interview experience. The three techniques are each relatively straightforward and will give us useful feedback. Doing three allows us to triangulate and see patterns a bit easier.

Do we have any Google Analytics stats or similar for the current site? Be useful to take a look at those too.

After the research we can look at building the personas (or perhaps scenarios instead) from the findings, and maturing our goals and strategy for the project once we have some real data about the area we’re dealing with. That’ll move us into stage 3 analysis, and the useful user stories/scenarios, journey maps, etc that come from it.

How does that sound?

Some thoughts:

  • If one of the key user groups is a recruiter, it might be worth JC touching base with a recruiter locally, telling them about the process you’re currently undertaking, getting their thoughts, and reporting that information back here for the project team. It’s all very well to involve any old recruiter that we can drum up, but if your data came from a recruiter who was local to your area and someone who really could be helpful in a job hunt down the track, then that’s a far more qualified user for you. It’s great that we have a diverse international group working on the project, but I think it would be short-sighted to ignore cultural and
    geographically relevant points that will help ensure the end product actually works for JC.

  • I think it’s a little premature to be creating personas or user stories just yet—personas need to be informed by data, and we haven’t done the research to give us that data yet. If we’re following the rough UX process that Luke and I published on (makes sense to do so, I think) then this Research stage is all about doing the research, and during Analysis we’ll wade through it, find patterns and connections that can be represented in a number of ways—personas, scenarios, storyboards, or something else.

  • +1 to seeing some Analytics data from the existing site

  • Getting back to context, it would be useful to know what other channels we should consider for the greater goal of “find a job”. What I mean by this is: should this content be replicated on LinkedIn? If building a profile is key, should the candidate be establishing their Twitter presence as an authority on all things UX? If so, how does that relate to the portfolio? (surely some content reuse opportunities there). Facebook?

More questions than answers in that fourth point. What do you guys think?

I agree Matt, about it being worth JC contacting local recruiters, but I guess it also depends on where JC is looking for jobs? In terms of recruiters or HR, I think there could be a huge variety, as it is also going to depend on the roles/jobs they are hiring for. As one company’s UX role is not going to be the same as another’s. I think in the least it could be helpful to look at what recruiters in other locations are looking for, and see if there is any alignment, so that not just for JC, but the others on this board can get a better idea of areas to focus on.

I will let those I’ve asked know that we aren’t quite ready to interview yet.

For me user stories come a little later in the process, after you know the user journey, or scenarios around what you are trying to achieve (but when I think about user stories, I’m talking about those like what developers work with in an agile environment). But in this case I’m not so sure about these personas. I guess for me, we are really trying to find out more about people who make the decisions in regards to hiring the UX people, and how they come to those decisions.

I’d be curious (personally) to know whether prevalence on Twitter and that kind of social media is an important factor in getting a job, or whether it may be more helpful for instance if you are looking to be a consultant.

I guess one of the other questions that has popped up for me is, what type of UX does JC actually lean towards, what job role is being aimed at? A general UX Designer, or more specific, rather than just getting a job. As I think this could also impact on the direction - although re-reading Luke’s comment, we can probably find this out in the stakeholder interview.

I may have started out with a bit of a red herring, because it was me that suggested that finding a job was a good indicator of success, but Noquarter has said that success is change within his current environment (I think – perhaps some clarification here would be good).

@Natalie_Eustace Yep, I reckon so. The portfolio’s own UX, plus the role JC’s pitching for can begin with the stakeholder interview. Knowing his personal preferences and style is also going to be a big differentiator in terms of design and content.

Prevalence on Twitter may count as an aspect of building a personal network, depending on how you use it. Building rapport, contributing to others requests and displaying experience and opinions opens the door for a deeper connection and possibly exposure to opportunities. I wouldn’t say people hire directly off Twitter, and simply sending out status tweets won’t work either, so it’s perhaps only a small part, but subjectively there would seem enough potential to target Twitter use as part of the research.

@HAWK One reason I reckon the stakeholder interview will be important for this is because the UX can arguably only really maximise the potential of the raw ingredients, not exceed them. ie if JC had a lack of experience or knowledge in areas important for winning a particular job, then a whizbang online portfolio is only going to make that clearer. That’s still a win for JC as he doesn’t want to win jobs he’s not suited for, plus identifying areas of weakness early on is going to give him a head start in improving, but it does mean we need to choose success metrics with some careful thinking. Landing a [I]suitable[/I] job is still a good one, I think.

+1 for considering the experience beyond just the portfolio itself, ie considering personal branding across LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, etc. Research should show us those channels, or allow us to deduce them, a la journey maps, etc. The six points for developing a UX career mentioned in our article and ebook can also provide some direction for the portfolio and social media content topics, skills to express/demonstrate in the portfolio and elsewhere, methods of engaging your personal networks, etc. That’s all divergent thinking stuff tho. We can do it now to help structure research and/or during analysis to give direction.

So much good stuff here, I am trying to process it all. Matty brings up a great point in the Stage 1 board about defining my objectives better. After reading his post it dawned on me that we may need to revisit the objectives. Since I am the stakeholder, I think the objective needs to be more clear for me. With that being said, I would like to define those better now.

Main objective:
Learn more about the UX process while building a new portfolio site. (this is important, as having the best portfolio in the world wont mean much if I still dont understand the UX process, tools, etc.) The portfolio is just a by-product which happens to kill two birds with one stone.

Secondary objectives:
Help JC to find a mentor. (I think this is important and I have yet to find one)
Build a completed portfolio

With that being said, we also need to change the measurable right? Is there a way that the uxmaster community could quantitatively or qualitatively come to consensus at the end that I have learned a good solid UX process?

Let me know your thoughts.

Also, I have apprehension towards asking anyone to do any particular thing because I know you guys are busy and I don’t want it to seem like I am pushing off the work to everyone else. That being said, I also realize a good UX role needs to put people in the right places to be successful. Does it make sense for me to play a secondary role at least through phase 2 and 3 so that I can watch the experience at work. Kind of a forum mentorship? Or does it make sense for me to try to do it myself and have the community hand hold me? I am open to suggestions.

I would like to remove the deadlines for these next few phases as well. Realizing that doesn’t happen in the real world, but I want to make sure I have time to learn and absorb things, not rush them through.

Lets see what changes need to be made since the objectives changed and then resume phase 2.


I do have some experience creating personas. I dont know how good they are yet as I am trying to implement them at work but I did go to our clients workplace to interview and observe. Here is one of them (front desk attendant at a gym)

Would love some feedback from an expert. Also, thanks for explaining the proto-personas. That is very helpful and might come in handy for me on some smaller upcoming projects.


I’ll repeat I’m not an expert on these, but I can give some constructive feedback from what I’ve learned :).
Please do remember that the format, and what you put on personas differs quite a bit, it really does depend on what way you are looking to use them for.

My feedback:

  • I really like the image, it feels more realistic and I’m glad that you didn’t use a stock photo!
  • Basic and Advanced are really two sides of the Tech level scale, so I’m curious as to why you split them into two? If it was for more rounding out, another you can also use is time in system.
  • The negative influences are self explanatory, but I’m a little confused around the lead character and supporting character with the things that come underneath them. Are these things that she does as part of her job? If so I’m not sure if the titles bring that across.
  • For the goals and motivations there doesn’t seem to be anything on the motivations side of things. What drives her to come to work, what does she enjoy doing, what really motivates her? This one seems to be more around roles and responsibilities. What are her goals? i.e. to make sure that no one waits too long in the line or to give great customer service by efficiently serving customers? What is she trying to achieve.

Two overall comments, are that although these need to read professionally, you also want to write it like how this “person” would explain it, as generally you use these to be able to put yourself and others in the mind set of that particular persona, and the more realistic they read the better. The other comment is that personas work best when they don’t need to be explained too much, you want to be able to bring them to a meeting, and have someone read them for the first time, and really understand that character.

Thanks for the feedback. These personas are not a finished product so this is good stuff. I can tweak them if I need to.

Basic and advanced: What I did was set up 2 sets of questions, both with 7 questions.
Basic Tech questions: 1-10 scale, How confident are you using facebook, itunes, etc. (simple everyday applications)
Adv. Tech questions: 1-10 scale, How confident are you that you could build a website, a pdf, etc (more complex applications).
I then averaged them all. The purpose is to show the developers that the users may perceive themselves as being pretty “tech” oriented but probably not as “tech” oriented when it comes to more complex applications. (of which our software is very complex)

Characters: The thought behind this is that each persona uses 1 or 2 of our modules everyday exclusively. But my research found that they may also wear other hats and go into other modules when for example, a manager isn’t around. So in this case, the Front Desk attendant uses Check-In all the time. This makes them a lead character for design. But they may occasionally use the agreement module to look up someones payment history. It is not often but it happens. So I make them a secondary charterer for that module. (in other words, modules they use, but not often). So when I design the check-in… I design it for the front desk persona but I also take into account that other personas might check people in occasionally)

On motivations, this is a valid point. I guess I really missed this one as I focused on work motivations more than personal motivations. This was my first try at interviewing and creating personas. It looks like I need to define the motivation questions better.

Understood on the ease of reading. Did you not get what this persona did? If not then I need to go back and re-write these while keeping that in mind.

Thanks, that totally makes sense! I will look at revising it a bit with those suggestions.

I do enjoy the research side of it very much! I wish I got to do more of that but its a struggle to get time away from coding to do these types of things. =(

Ok, sorry everyone… Been so busy. I am trying to finish up the uxmastery book (almost done), taking dr. David travis ux course on udemy, juggling 2 side projects and trying to start a blog to document my ux learning process. Whew…

I have one local recruiter that i know will help me out. I also have a local sr. Ux person that i have talked to through linkedin and im sure she would also help. I can probably ask a few others through linked in. I though maybe i can interview one or two members here as well.

Let me see if i can set up dates and times for interviews with those individuals.

So, can we pehaps get a set of questions short listed? I have a few that i can add but i would like to open that up for discussion. Lets nail down the interview questions and ill get them scheduled. My thoughts on the intial interview questions is to try to determine the key tasks that one looking at a ux portolio would need to achieve and then try to apply user stories to those tasks. Does that sound like the right course?

I have updated the document to reflect the new primary and secondary goals. I will fill in the features list as we get further along.

I have sent out a quick web survey to about 25 recruiters to do some research on resumes. In it, I ask if I could interview them for the portfolio project. Hopefully we get a few willing participants.