A New Method To Walk Into Your Customers’ Shoes

One of the most important factors that bring success to user experience is to fully and profoundly understand your users. Not only do you want to know who they are, but you want to dive deeper into understanding their motivations, mentality, and behavior. This deals with tailoring or customizing your products to fit the specific needs of a certain group of customers.

Earlier on, people tend to use the “personas” method to approach to the customers and identify their needs. It brings many benefits to the sellers, however customers are of different types, and this method certainly is not the most effective tool to cover it all. After some research, I’ve known about another method to explore our assumptions about users, so-called “the matrix technique“.

The method was discovered when I was under the process of building our Pi – multi-purpose theme and ran into a lecture of Mr. David Rollert, a designer with extensive experience. In his lecture, Davis showed a wide range of user experience tools, including a way to model groups of users, which I especially found interesting. The brainstorming process is well structured and divided into the following steps:
Step 1: Draw Your Matrix
In this case, it would be best if you choose a 3 x 3 grid to start brainstorming, mostly because it provides enough variation without being too detailed – therefore helping you avoid over-analyzing the situation.

UX maxtrix of a theme

Step 2: Identify Important Axes
The next step is to determine how many of categories of our users can exist in the system.Let’s talk about the example of a multi-purpose theme, which normally has a bunch of functions and lots of features that can meet various needs of the customers.The question is, for the potential customers of this theme, can we come up with what kinds of attribute behavioural? In this step, try to think in terms of “opposing” attributes. You might end up with a list looking like this and the corresponding user stories:
img1
• explorative
“I want a new way to experience, I want to check out the latest features.”
• competitive
“I have to create a website which stands out among the competitors.”
• frequent
“I update my website a lot, several times a week to everyday.”
• occasional
“I update my website once a week or less, just for posting information or presenting new product(s).”

Your axes might then look like this:

explorative ↔ competitive
frequent ↔ occasional

Depending on the project you are working on, you may or may not know something about the users you are talking about.
As you go through this exercise, keep in mind what you know about your users and what are assumptions only. From the list above, choose the axes that most interest you or that you think are worth exploring. Choosing might be difficult for beginners in this method; in which case, the best thing to do is to dive in and see what happens. If it doesn’t work or if ideas stuck at some points, change your axes and keep going.

Step 3: Identify Key Questions

Now this is the tricky part: Ask a question! I generally like, “What would these users want to do?” Or, even more simply, “What do they want?” The latter question would cover what users want to know and what they would want to do. You could also ask questions like, “How would they feel when using the theme?” as a kind of emphatic exercise. As you think up questions, keep a list handy. You’ll need it later. In this example, let’s stick with “What can they do?” Or, from a user’s perspective,s “What can I do with this theme?”

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Step 4: Fill It Up
Try your best to fill in the matrix. If you already gathered some insights from research, then make sure to mark the ones you know for sure, as opposed to things you believe to be true but have nothing to confirm it.
Gradually, by the time you finished the first matrix, you’ll have a fairly good idea of what information you already know about your users and what further research might be required.

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This step is particularly important, as thanks to that, you can know what it takes to meet your customers needs. For example, for PI-the latest multi-purpose theme of ThemeLead, the developers have strictly followed the method and the above matrix, and included some awesome features that are suitable for some groups of customers, e.g for the ones whose first priority is homepage interface and effectivity, the theme has included mega menu in the navigation bar, which make it easier to do homepage surfing.
Step 5: Iterate
Once you are done with the first matrix, set that aside, and draw another blank grid.
You can do one of two things:
1. Change one of your axes to something different, but stick to the same question; or
2. Pick another question from your list, e.g “What do these users need from us?”

Start filling in the matrix again from the top. Remember, this is a brainstorming process. Putting down ideas that you can refine later is more important, so try to move rapidly through each iteration.
When you have done as much as you can with this iteration of the matrix, do the dance again: pick another question, or switch another axis. It’s best when your team collectively chooses which questions and spectrums to think about. Rinse and repeat. You’ll likely find that you can generate a lot of matrices in the space of just an hour, even if it may be a slow start at first.

Remember that no study or methodology is perfect or all-encompassing. Many people cross over from one group to another. However you can still have an effective research by analysing the habits and lifestyles of several existing customers with whom you are familiar. Consider which category/axe they fit into and try to fill in their features in the matrix. At the same time, have a friend or family member read this article and then attempt to identify which category you fit into. After finishing the brainstorming process, we have to move on to analysising and studying key insights, which I would present in the next article. Make sure to subcribe to ThemeLead to get updated.

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