In the early discussions of this project with Superfriendly, Dan Mall encouraged that we start this project by doing user research. They wanted to talk with 15-20 people who would be using the end product. While I’ve read lots about the value of research, in the many years I have worked on the web, I’ve never been involved in a project that formalized it as part of the process.
During the time leading up to the launch of the project, I created a list of people within the Adventist church who would use this product, from decision makers, to people adding content to the site. We wanted to include input from a variety of people in different roles around the world.
Over the course the next 4 weeks, Rob Adams and Crystal Vitelli interviewed 25 different people. The list of participants included communication directors, web developers, pastors, volunteers, and more. We talked with people at all levels of the church, from the General Conference office, to divisions, unions, conferences, and local churches.
Throughout the course of the interviews, four distinct personas were developed.
1. Sarah works as a Communication Director for a regional department within the Adventist hierarchy. She spends the most time of anyone on staff on website maintenance, but it’s still a relatively small part of her job. A lot of her pain is around how long it takes to make changes to the site. Sarah isn’t very happy with the current design or her content management system, but fixing it is a daunting, expensive challenge.
3. Jorge is Digital Media Manager, and his role is similar to Sarah’s and many of his goals overlap with hers. However, unlike Sarah, Jorge works for an externally-facing mission that is tasked with outreach to Adventists and non-Adventists alike. Jorge shares many of Sarah’s concerns about the difficulty of making updates, ensuring information is easy to find, etc. Additionally, he has a lot of pain around sharing information within the Adventist Church.
4. Paul is a pastor at a mid-sized local church. He’s familiar enough with technology from a user perspective, but he knows very little about HTML, CSS, and other underlying web technologies. Evelyn is a volunteer who works with Paul, and is no more familiar with web technologies than he is, but is the most tech-savvy of the volunteers.
You can download the complete persona document if you want to read about these people, their goals, pain points and technology needs.
How This Guides Us
The results of the interviews have shaped the goals and objectives of this phase of the product. We have chosen to focus primarily on Sarah and Simon, the two users who will benefit the most at this phase.
And as we move forward and encounter questions, we can ask ourselves “What would Sarah do?” “How would Simon react?” Jorge, Paul and Evelyn will still be considered, but primarily we will work to help Sarah and Simon.
And at the end of the day, remember that the personas aren’t just about some fake names. They are to help us focus on you!
We would love hear from you, so please let us know what you think about what we are doing!