The UX Journey - The path of the ‘Empath’

One of the essential traits of any UX designer is to be able to ‘walk a mile in their user’s shoes’ - We call this being an ‘Empath.'

By seeing things as they do, we are more likely to find great solutions to any problems present or future, and we also become more objective when it comes to providing superior solutions for goods and services, or in our case better processes to make our user’s lives easier.

Great design is ‘seamless’, and it flows logically to the point of providing a great and pleasurable experience. To me personally, Apple is an exceptional example of seamless design.

Whom are we empathic to?

We are emphatic not only to our users but to everyone involved; this can include our UX team, web development team, graphic design team, stakeholders, and management.

Our role is to bring everyone together on a great journey or experience, and we can compare it to inviting everyone for a great dinner and make sure everyone leaves full, happy and totally satisfied wanting to come back for more.

I would like to speak specifically about the following:

  • Storyboards,
  • Personas,
  • Journey maps and
  • Mock-ups

I will explain in more detail on a very basic level for non-UX designers so you can understand how each one can help us achieve our goals and objectives, to improve user experience.

Storyboards

Storyboards are a not so rough sketch like in comic books, usually freehand and are an excellent way to ‘illustrate’ a scenario to help find solutions to a problem and it also helps us narrow down to a particular outcome(s) by creating a visual boundary.

The benefit is not only visual, but it helps the UX design team to stay on point and understand their users.

The advantages of using storyboards are countless, but one of the most significant benefits is that they are quick, inexpensive, and if the first storyboard is not entirely accurate, you can change any scene by placing a new one on top of the old one or start from scratch.

It only takes one marker, a sheet of paper and some degree of illustrative skill which most designers have.

Personas

Personas are the (likely) ‘users’ or the people we are trying to help find a solution to their problems.

They are the ‘typical’ users (if there is such thing as typical) who will be using the site, software, hardware, or service.

By developing a persona, a great UX designer will become like an actor and assume the personality of the user in question.

A higher degree of care, empathy and compassion will be invested in the processes because we become fond of our personas.

Journey maps

This is how we ‘map out’ the journey of the user, defining the problems (challenges), processes, recommendations, and outcomes.

It is encouraged to come up with all sorts of ideas no matter how ridiculous they might seem.

Crazy ideas do have a place in UX design because they help us stretch our imagination, and we can think literally outside the box.

Example, If Henry Ford did not think outside the box, we would still have horses pulling our cars.

Combining UX Methods - Helping the Constanza's at Dinner time

I will now connect the storyboard, personas, journey map and mock-up to help you understand how these four help us develop a better experience for our token family, the Constanza's, who are finding it hard to cook healthy food due to their busy lives.

Meet the Constanza's, Joe is a 40-year-old architect married to Mel a 34-year-old events manager-speaker who does a lot of traveling to her business seminars.

 Joe Constanza

Mel Constanza

They have two children, Gracy, 5, the chief child and Max, 4, who is the second in command.

Gracy Constanza

Max Constanza

As a professional Architect, Joe works at a firm in Melbourne’s CBD, Mel (wife) is usually away on business and he has to take care of Gracy and Max while Mel is away.

The biggest challenge Joe faces is ‘meal time’ as his culinary skills are not up to scratch, and that gives his ‘mama’ a lot to think about.

To help the Constanza family I have done the following:

  • I have created a storyboard for the situation (not so rough sketch)
  • A persona describing each one of them and their needs
  • I would identify low, medium and high-stress points (difficulties) using a ‘journey map’ which also includes the description of their challenges and recommendations on how to solve their problem or problems.
  • Draft a list of possible solutions to help them achieve their goals and have a more positive future, and crazy ideas or ‘outside’ the box are highly encouraged.
  • I have come up with a mock-up of one of the strongest solutions; we usually provide a few but for time’s sake I only present one, ‘healthy.food’.

Mock-up – healthy.food Mobile App

The healthy.food app

I came up with an app to order freshly cooked meals for the whole family, and this app is mobile friendly so Joe can order from his phone at any time is convenient for him.

The app is linked to the website so orders can be made on either of them.

The app also has a ‘menu’ planner, and they can plan ahead.

Mel does not have to worry about cooking for them in advance or worry about it when she is home; she can also check, modify or cancel the orders as she has access to the same information as Joe.

The cost is reduced if they are regular customers, and if they refer more people they have a bonus point system giving them discounts to other similar services.

Other things to consider

We also have to consider the ‘commercial appeal’ of the experience we are creating for budget reasons, example:

Differentiator (unique selling point)

There are similar services like ‘Light and Easy’ but our selling point is the app caters for young children, they even have other apps teaching them how to eat healthy with games and activities.

They even have small soft toys for their best customers; they have coloring books which can be delivered with every order or whenever needed.

This app is both on Android or Apple OS, so it is downloadable for free, and no subscription is necessary. All you need are basic details like delivery address and account details for payments.

How do The Constanza's feel after discovering healthy.food?

Mel now has more time to spend with her family doing other things and healthy.food does not cost much more than fresh produce, time and fuel.

Moreover, during her trip, she received a promotion to ‘train the trainer’ which means she will stay in Melbourne working at HQ 3 days and from home for two, she gets a company car and a pay rise and because healthy.food works so well for them she had decided to stay with them.

This is what UX Design is, bettering the lives of our users and showing them things can improve and by providing a great experience we show them how much we care.

This article was written by Louis Salguero.